Tutors often worry about what problems and difficulties disabled people will present and may well underestimate the student's abilities. Yet the reality is that most disabled students can manage well provided a little forethought and understanding is given to one's teaching. Tutors and trainers do not need to be highly trained disability experts in order to achieve positive results. They need only take a common sense approach and know where to go for additional help if necessary.
The disabled person is usually the best person to start with when one is trying to establish what their needs are and what possible solutions exist or might be created. After all, a disabled student who has achieved the entry standard for higher education has the experience of living with their disability and overcoming their problems, they will also know what enables them to learn effectively. The important starting point is not the individual's impairment (or its cause) but what that person needs in order to be able to show and develop their skills to the same extent as others.
Another important point to remember is that people with similar impairments do not necessarily have similar needs. One student with a visual impairment might work well within a lab situation, whilst another might find that situation particularly difficult. Two students with mobility problems could also have very different needs - one might use a wheelchair, another crutches. The specific details of the impairment, personality, age, preferences, experience, motivation and length of time with the disability all have a significant impact on performance.
Disabled people are quite naturally sensitive to the negative connotations of some expressions. Some non-disabled individuals may regard this concern for language as political correctness, however, language conveys powerful messages and can lead to inaccurate labelling that dehumanises or belittles. It is helpful to observe care in one's choice of words and to encourage all students to be sensitive to their use of language too.
The list below is dynamic and changes in response to the suggestions and beliefs of disabled individuals: