Speech impairments can have many causes: dysfluencies such as stuttering, neurological conditions such as Tourette’s Syndrome, surgical removal of the larynx, stroke, traumatic head injury, and degenerative illness. Students with speech impairments may communicate in various ways. Some students speak with their own voices, but slowly and with some lack of clarity; other students write notes, point to communication boards, use electronic speech-synthesizers, or communicate through assistants who interpret their speech to other people.
Suggested Modifications and Accommodations
- In communicating with students who have speech impairments, resist the temptation to indicate that you have understood when in fact you have not. Students with speech impairments are accustomed to being asked to repeat, so don’t be afraid that you’ll offend them if you ask them to “say it again” or to spell words that you can’t decipher.
- When students have speech impairments, meet with them early in the semester to discuss their communication styles and how they can best function in your classroom. Will they be able to answer if you call on them? Will they be able to ask questions and make comments during class discussions, or do oral presentations? If not, are there other ways the students can demonstrate competency: for example, by completing an extra essay or project
- If a communication assistant accompanies the student to class, address your comments and questions to the student rather than the assistant.