Inclusive Learning and Teaching of Students with Impairments Guidelines


All staff members and students. The majority of the guidelines will always apply while others will be relevant in particular contexts.


To outline a framework of institutional expectations of staff members and students with respect to the inclusion in the learning environment of the University of students with impairments.


The University is committed to providing equal opportunities to all who have the potential and ability to succeed in higher education. It seeks to create an inclusive learning environment by eliminating barriers or avoiding creating barriers to the progress of all students.

While the focus of these guidelines is to enhance the teaching and learning environment of student with impairments, nearly all the strategies advocated in this document are central to good teaching and learning practice and will benefit all students.


All staff and students

  • All staff members and students should contribute to building an atmosphere in all University environments (including teaching spaces) where diversity is respected
  • Support for staff members and students is available from Student Disability Services

Students with impairments

  • Students with impairments should disclose any impairment-related requirements to the University’s Equity Office (Student Disability Services) if they need support such as accommodations for tests and examinations, assistance with note-taking, assistance in laboratories or workshops, accommodations when on placements or work experience or assistance with academic study due to learning impairments such as dyslexia
  • Students with impairments should make their requirements known well in advance, so appropriate support can be arranged
  • Where possible, students with impairments share responsibility for negotiating and developing solutions with teaching and administration staff
  • Students should advise the University (Equity Office, Student Disability Services; Departments; Course Co-ordinators, Faculty Disability Liaison staff) of difficulties they encounter
  • All students should take responsibility for their own performance and work closely with the University to ensure they achieve to the best of their ability and to make the most of the learning environment (Ministry of Education, Tertiary Education Strategy 2014-2019)

Teaching staff

Teaching staff should:

Before class

  • include a statement in all course outlines and state in the first lecture of every course that:
    ’Students are urged to discuss privately any impairment-related requirements face-to-face and/or in written form with the course convenor/lecturer and/or tutor.’
  • provide up-to-date resource lists that are prioritised at the beginning of semester that include library resources where possible
  • provide lecture outlines online; and in advance to New Zealand sign language interpreters and deaf students, where applicable
  • provide all course materials in accessible formats for those students unable to access standard print formats, where applicable
  • identify hazards and work with others to develop solutions for particular students where necessary

In class

  • ensure effective classroom dynamics in which only one person speaks at a time, where applicable
  • deliver material at a speed that allows for sign language translation, where applicable
  • present information using a variety of media: text, graphics, audio and/or video
  • use tools such as a microphone, PowerPoint, etc in class to ensure that information is communicated effectively
  • use the Lecture Theatre Recording system where appropriate to provide online access to lectures for revision and supplemental note taking
  • provide rest breaks in class to accommodate students and support staff e.g. note takers and interpreters
  • where possible, in small classes, use circular seating arrangements during discussion to allow students to see one another's faces

Curriculum and assessment design and professional development

  • develop interactive environments using teaching and learning technologies appropriate to the context and learning outcomes
  • use, where applicable, online options to enhance students’ out of class learning such as additional exercises and quizzes, including through the online learning management system
  • consider providing choice in assignment topics and formats where appropriate to provide different but equivalent assessment options
  • undertake professional development for responding to diversity in teaching and learning.

Faculties and academic units

Faculties and academic units should:

  • provide specific information about course requirements and modes of delivery and, where relevant, career requirements so that students can make a fully informed decision about whether or not to apply for a particular course or programme
  • work with service divisions to facilitate approved accommodations or special conditions for tests
  • where possible, ensure all students have the same access to academic and vocational placements including field trips, internships and study abroad
  • ensure opportunities for staff to undertake professional development in relation to the teaching and learning implications of a range of student impairments
  • ensure allocated learning spaces are accessible and supportive of multi-modal teaching and learning
  • provide relevant support and space in potentially dangerous teaching locations eg, science laboratories
  • review the implementation of these guidelines by teaching staff

Service divisions

Service divisions should:

  • test new technology resources for usability for all students
  • work with faculties to facilitate approved accommodations or special conditions for tests
  • identify and mitigate hazards for students with impairments in all University environments
  • provide space for wheelchairs, particularly in learning spaces (computer laboratories as well as classrooms)
  • liaise with Equity Office (Student Disabilities Office) when planning routine plant and access maintenance on campus which may impact on students with disabilities
  • liaise with Examinations Office to support the use of word processors in particular cases for examinations


The following definitions apply to this document:

Disability:  Waipapa Taumata Rau defines disability as any physical, psychological, cognitive, or sensory impairment which, in interaction with social and systemic barriers, restricts a person's full and effective participation in university life on an equal basis with others.

An inclusive learning environment is one which identifies and removes barriers in all areas of academic and campus life.

Staff members refers to individuals employed by the University of a full or part time basis.

Students include those with and without disability or impairments.

University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.

Key relevant documents

Document management and control

Owner: Provost
Content manager: Director, Teaching and Learning
Approved by: Provost
Approval date: January 2018
Review date: January 2021