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Best Practice Standards 3.8


3.8 Teaching and Learning

All academic programmes are accessible to students with impairments and staff design and implement appropriate teaching and learning strategies.

Best Practice Standards

  1. Programme specifications are designed so there are no unnecessary barriers to access, participation and achievement for students with impairments.
  2. Academic and technical staff have the support and training necessary to enable them to meet the requirements of students with impairments.
  3. Teaching staff plan and employ teaching and learning strategies and reasonable accommodations to make course delivery as inclusive as possible for students with impairments, without compromising essential programme standards or components.
  4. Effective support services for students with impairments exist for open learning, distance education or other flexible delivery modes such as e-learning.
  5. Where possible, students with impairments have the same access to academic and vocational placements including field trips, work placements and study abroad, as other students.
  6. Students with impairments are offered the support and guidance necessary to secure access to research programmes and successfully complete this research.
  7. Specific transition strategies to assist students with impairments to move successfully to higher studies or employment are implemented.

Understanding these Best Practice Standards
Training for staff

  • Council and Senior Management endorse training for teaching staff so they can:
    • Offer a flexible curriculum taking into account different ways of learning and demonstrating competence.
    • Recognise the learning implications for students with impairments.
    • Make adaptations to delivery appropriate for students with different impairments.
    • Offer appropriate and effective academic support and guidance for these students.
    • Advise students about barriers or inaccessible parts of a course prior to starting and develop solutions.

Flexible teaching practices

  • The principles of 'universal instructional design' are used in the development of courses so all students are able to fulfil course requirements with minimal support. They include:
    • Using instructional materials and activities that are accessible and fair, provide flexibility in use and presentation, are easy to understand and clearly presented.
    • Providing a supportive learning environment that minimises unnecessary physical effort or requirements and accommodates both the students and instructional methods.
  • The University of Guelph provides more detailed discussion about these points on its website - University of Guelph's Statement of Universal Instructional Design Principles. The Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) also includes some valuable teaching and learning resources - ADCET website
  • Inclusive teaching and learning strategies include:
    • Institution-wide policies and procedures to develop a flexible teaching and assessment environment, that encourages the use of inclusive practices as a standard part of course design and teaching.
    • Anticipating teaching and learning requirements to prevent discrimination.
    • Adapting teaching to take into account the different ways that students learn.
    • Rest-breaks in class to accommodate students and support staff (e.g. interpreters, note takers).
    • Information in alternative formats - electronic, enlarged, easy-to-read (Plain English), pictorial, Braille and audio taped versions of print material, video captioning, transcription of videos, tactile diagrams.
    • Electronic handouts that can be easily converted into large print or put into other alternative formats.
    • Access to electronic information sources that are easier for some students with impairments to access (e.g. library catalogue, CD ROM, Internet).
    • Arranging material in advance for students and their support staff to prepare for the class (e.g. providing the outline of the class and key terms used to a sign language interpreter).
    • Flexible modes of delivery and assessment (e.g. using radio microphones).
    • Encouraging students to ask for support - staff show a willingness to discuss support, invite students to approach them privately and contact students when performance may be affected by impairments.
    • Staff seeking advice to help to develop effective support.
    • Co-operative links with other institutions and community agencies to share equipment and support staff.
    • Specific career guidance, vacation employment or work experience for students with impairments.
    • Seeking accessible academic and vocational placements for students with impairments, including re-locating field trips to alternative sites or offering alternative experiences if this is not possible.
    • Training focusing on inclusive teaching and learning strategies, that teaching staff must attend.
  • Programme specifications include procedures to:
    • Identify essential components, learning outcomes and their implications for students with impairments.
    • Identify and remove barriers to participation and achievement for students with impairments.
    • Account for impairments in course delivery, including individual requirements and learning styles.
    • Ensure course approval includes informed consideration of impairments (e.g. involving disability services staff).
    • Provide sufficient information to enable students and their support networks to make informed decisions.

Students' learning style and individual preferences

  • Students' personal preferences for how they receive information and express their learning is accommodated and staff check their perceptions with the students involved.
    Personal preferences vary from individual to individual and include:
    • Listening, looking, reading, writing, speaking and handling.
    • Large or small groups, individual study, classes, library, workshops, field trips.
    • Different environmental conditions and times (e.g. noisy, quiet, bright or low light, morning, afternoon or evening, the pace at which they study).
  • Staff should not make assumptions about a student's requirements. Instead ask students with impairments about what might help or what the real effects on their learning and assessment might be. They may have useful suggestions. "Nothing about us without us!"
  • Consult with students with impairments before talking with other staff about them and remember your obligations under the Privacy Act.