For Teachers: Accessibility in Adult Education

To make your work in the classroom accessible and effective for as many students as possible, use planning and classroom time for the following four steps (A-D). These are proven effective steps that you take for ALL students. They fit within a larger set of 5 program steps for making adult education accessible to all (see illustration at bottom).

A) Developing Activities using Universal Design and Planning for Accommodations

Plan 5 activities to repeat with your students that will engage many different kinds of learners. The following two tools will help you do this. They contain the same information in two formats. Try the spreadsheet (xls) file first. In some cases a student with a disability will ask the program for specific accommodations in the classroom. The program should pass information about the students’ needs to you for use in planning before class starts.

AE CCRS Class Planning Tool 2017

Class Planning Tool as Plain Document

also useful for reference in class planning for the reading, writing, speaking and listening : Adult Ed CCRS Quick Reference List

If a student has disclosed a disability, and you are researching accommodations for their specific circumstance, both of the following sites offer strategies based on specific disabilities:

try: LD (Learning Disabilities) Online  which is K-12 oriented

or: JAN (the Job Accommodations Network) which is oriented to the workplace and is searchable by disability.

Another resource for working with a student to identify accommodations that might work is the “Procedural Guide to Accommodating Adults with Disabilities” published by the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning Division of Adult Studies.

If you would like to read more about how to prepare materials that meet federal accessibility standards for education:

National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standards: Best Practices for Educators

National Instructional Materials Access Center Many large publishers prepare digital versions of their text books that are ready to reformat for a students’ specific needs. If you need to provide an accessible version of a text book (for ex: large print, braille or text-to-speech), search this data base to find an adaptable version.

Dyslexia Resource:  NPR Series: “Unlocking Dyselxia”

Autism Resource: Autism Spectrum Disorders Fact Sheet by Laurie Ackles

B) Orient your students to the classroom and help them identify if they can see materials and hear and communicate with you and other students

image of part of self check sheet

image of part of self check sheet


Student Communication Self-Check




C) A few weeks into class: look over notes on student participation and evaluate their progress (the spreadsheet tool above includes a page for these notes).

Formative assessments are class activities that provide evidence of student understanding; use them to gather evidence to review and discuss with your students. Empower them to check and evaluate their own work as well!

If a student is struggling, this is a good time to check in with the student or support staff about possible barriers and strategies to overcome them.


D) A week (or two) before the end of class work with the student to review their progress.

Some programs have these discussions worked into their process. Consult with your program to understand how they document student progress and what feedback you can discuss with the student to help them understand.

This link leads to a 2 page pdf file that combines the steps above with the diagram below:

5 Steps That Make Adult Ed Accessible to Students with LD

Diagram of steps programs and teachers can take to make adult education accessible to students with disabilities.

Diagram of steps programs and teachers can take to make adult education accessible to students with disabilities.