A Guide to Classroom Adjustments for Students With Special Needs
Under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), schools are required to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that special needs students are able to participate in ‘rigorous, meaningful and dignified learning.’ This applies to physical, cognitive and learning disabilities.
The obligation of educators to make reasonable adjustments applies across the whole education system, from preschool to university. Reasonable adjustments balance students’ needs with those of educators and other students.
The types of special needs adjustments required are usually determined by the school Learning and Support Team in consultation with teachers, parents and professionals.
Parents play a significant role in this process because they have an in-depth knowledge of their child’s requirements and skills. For this reason, it’s vital that parents have a thorough understanding of the adjustments available so they can ensure their student is receiving the best education possible.
Types of Classroom Adjustments
Teachers have a great deal of flexibility in deciding what methods to use to deliver lessons. There are many options for modifying lessons to meet the needs of all students.
Instructional adjustments include:
- Course materials in braille
- Worksheets and other learning materials in enlarged text or on coloured paper
- Captioned audio-visual materials
- Use of an FM microphone
- Specialised services, such as a notetaker
- Providing lesson materials in advance
- Recorded lessons for students to watch or listen to at home
- Illustrated learning materials
- Simplified texts
- Additional modelling and guided practice
Environmental adjustments refer to modifications made to the physical school environment to assist special needs students. Alterations need to be made in the classroom as well as other commonly used areas such as the library and sporting fields.
Environmental adjustments include:
- Ramps, railings and lifts to assist with mobility
- Specialised lighting
- Lever taps in bathrooms and other wet areas
- Modified computer equipment
- Augmented communication systems
- Relocating classes to more accessible spaces
- Rearrangement of classroom furniture to provide easy access
- Seating arrangements that help with mobility and concentration
Adjustments to assessment tasks are often required to ensure special needs students are provided with equal opportunities to demonstrate their skills and knowledge. The goal is to even the playing field, not provide the student with an unfair advantage.
Assessment task adjustments include:
- Providing a range of options for students to choose from, such as a speech, video presentation or practical demonstration
- Allowing oral instead of written answers in an exam
- Use of speech recognition software, smart pens and other assistive technology for assessments and exams
- Extended deadlines
- Additional reading time
- Alternative step-by-step instructions for assessments and practical tasks
- Provision of a reader and/or writer in exams
- Recorded oral feedback rather than written feedback
How a Tutor Can Help Special Needs Students
A study by the Center of Parent Information and Resources found that one-on-one tutoring has profound benefits for students with special learning needs. A tutor provides tools and personalised attention to help exceptional students succeed.
At Tutor Doctor we ensure that our customised learning plans are aligned with classroom support programmes to give students the best outcomes. Tutors are handpicked to meet the specific needs of each student.
Contact us for a free consultation.