Supporting Learners With Impairments
Teaching should be inclusive at each stage of a person’s education. For those who have or struggle with hearing or visual impairments, education can be difficult. So it’s important that as an Assessor you take all the steps possible to make their learning as effective as possible.
Before you even begin planning new material you should ask your learners if they have any impairments. As well as, whether they require specialist equipment to aid them with the assessment process. There is a legal obligation to ensure that no one is disadvantaged because of a disability. The organisation should make reasonable adjustments to ensure that everyone can access the materials needed.
What Can I Do As An Assessor?
Here’s a potential scenario for you, that you may find yourself in as an Assessor. You are taking on a new learner, and during the initial assessment, they have informed you that they have an impairment. Either visual or hearing. How can you adapt your assessments to give your learner as much help as possible?
Take an observation assessment for example. If the learner has a hearing impairment, they can still do the observation, as in an observation you are observing someone. They may just need extra time, or they could benefit from a scribe. If you’re asking questions to the learner, the scribe can write this down and present it to them.
With a Professional Discussion (PD), if your learner has a hearing impairment they may benefit from having a sign language interpreter with them. If they have a visual impairment, they may need braille/enlarged print, so they know what criteria you will be covering with them and can prepare in advance.
When it comes to projects and assignments, for someone with a hearing impairment you can set most work and projects in a text format, or over online copies. It may not be necessary to adapt the method too much compared to someone with a visual impairment. The projects can be set up in braille or with enlarged text for people with vision impairments. You might consider giving them a digital copy that can be read with text-to-speech technology or that can be zoomed in.
What Else Can You Do?
There are many things you can do to help learners with impairments, you can use visual prompts or pictures to reinforce what you are saying in your assessment methods. You may want to consider simplifying your terms. Try not to make it so complicated that the learner won’t understand. Maybe you can provide glossary summaries for any needed technical terms, if the learner has a visual impairment.
If they have a visual impairment you could use audio in projects. For hearing impairments, any videos that you use in the assignments or projects you set, make sure they have subtitles on them!
Avoid asking if learners can see or hear things, maybe ask them to ‘find’ or ‘identify’ so it doesn’t look like you’re singling them out. Utilise technology, such as text to speech. Some learners will benefit from braille, however the easiest way to enhance their learning is to record sessions that they attend either with their phone or tablet.
Consider Classroom Safety
Try and consider the stronger side of the learners impairment (such as one ear stronger than the other). Think about windows and how that would affect them with the glare, as well as noises, if you are doing assessments face to face.
Keep safety in mind! Before beginning the session your learners need to be familiar with escape routes. Learners with visual impairments should be informed if the layout of the classroom changes.
When it comes to teaching learners with visual and hearing impairments, you should be visible and well lit, try not to stand in front of a window! You need to face them wherever possible and try and speak clearly at all times, allowing learners to lip-read if necessary.
You may already be aware of learners with these impairments before conducting your assessments, like a professional discussion. Try and ask them in advance if they require any additional resources. This could be larger print or easy to read colours on paper. You can provide these things in advance so your learners come prepared.
It goes without saying that the best way to learn about a learners condition is from the learner themselves. Assume nothing. Remember that impairments may fluctuate. Tiredness or health conditions can influence them too. Regardless of how well you may have planned and prepared in advance, be flexible and be ready to think on your feet. Communicate with your learners, so you can provide the most effective and enjoyable learning experience.
We hope these tips have helped. If you have any other questions or queries about learners with impairments, then drop us an email at email@example.com.
Steve is a Chartered Manager and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.
He provides Educational Consultancy to the 19+ sector as well as being an Assessor, IQA, EPA and Digital Marketing Professional. When not doing any of these he finds time, every now and then, to write blogs and articles.