Inclusive lectures

Who are your students?

  • Do your students include speakers of English as a second language? They may take time to adapt to your lecture delivery.
  • Remember that students come from varied cultural and educational backgrounds.
  • Some students may find it particularly difficult to receive information presented orally. This includes not only students with a hearing impairment, but also those whose first language is not English, those on medication and those with short term memory problems.

How can you engage your students?

  • All students find it difficult to look, listen, think and make notes at the same time. Would it be easier for them to annotate a paper copy of a handout?
  • Would all your students benefit from advice on study skills eg notetaking, use of mind maps, etc.?
  • Do you need to do anything differently to help students with particular access needs?
  • Consider presenting detailed learning outcomes at the start of the lecture.
  • Break up the lecture with short interactive activities.

Your language

  • Will you use plain language, avoiding jargon and colloquialisms?
  • Avoid blasphemy and language that might offend.
  • Beware of humour that is based on discrimination.
  • Remember that your audience are unlikely to all share your own culture and beliefs. Avoid derogatory comments about other cultures.
  • Will you provide a glossary of specialist terminology?
  • Can you get key points across in different ways?

Your content

  • Do you have a clear structure, which you share with your audience?
  • Are you building on existing student knowledge?
  • Do your examples (including any graphics) reflect the broad range of society in a positive way, avoiding stereotyping and bias?
  • Are your examples/illustrations/language universally understood or are they dependent on knowledge of university/British culture?
  • What are areas of potential difficulty? eg new terminology, complex ideas
  • Will you summarise key points?
  • Consider the total content carefully if your lecture is being interpreted into sign language, which will affect the speed of delivery.


  • Avoid launching straight into your main point in the first couple of minutes, to allow for latecomers. Don’t leave main points till the very end either!
  • Be aware that students may need to arrive late/leave early eg for reasons related to their disability, medical condition, religious beliefs, or caring responsibilities.
  • Be aware of the time of year and day when the lecture is held eg is it Ramadan (when students may be fasting all day), Eid, Diwali, Chinese New Year, the Jewish Sabbath, time for Muslim Friday prayer?
  • Take things slowly at the start of the year. Students who speak English as a second language may take a little while to get used to your delivery.
  • Pace your delivery to allow notetaking.
  • Allow short intermissions for review of material, personal reflection or questions.
  • Pause to allow notetakers or sign-language interpreters to catch up.
  • Aim to finish within your time slot, so students can get to their next class.

Check on visibility and audibility

  • Can everyone see you at all times? eg Deaf students will not be able to lipread if you turn your back and continue speaking while writing on the board. If you darken the room to show a video, can students still take notes?
  • Check whether everyone can hear you, especially in an unfamiliar room.
  • Use available technology eg microphones, extra lighting, whiteboards.


  • Check understanding when you invite questions. Try “There are probably one or two things you will want to clarify. Any questions?”
  • Repeat questions so that all can hear.
  • Always respond positively to questions eg “Good question. I’ll go over that again…” If one person asks, others are probably also confused.

Checking understanding

  • How do you refresh memories of the previous lecture? eg use an initial worked problem or mini quiz to check understanding of the previous lecture, before introducing new material.
  • Consider using brief exercises/activities at key points of the lecture to check understanding or apply knowledge, possibly using gapped handouts.
  • How do you check understanding at the end? eg put a few questions on an OHP, to which students respond on a piece of paper 1 = Yes, 2 = don’t know/not sure, 3 = No. Follow it up next session, if there are a lot of Nos, or invite a small number to see you as a group.

Making material accessible

  • Consider how you will provide all resources in advance in accessible format. This may include texts, on-line resources, WebCT, visual material, audio material.
  • Consider what additional technology may be needed for students to access material during the lecture eg pc with specialist assistive software.
  • See Making handouts and OHPs accessible
  • Write down, and spell aloud, new terminology
  • Are any further resources to which you direct students accessible?

Inclusive in-session announcements

  • Provide any spoken information in written/electronic format eg room changes, details of assignments.


  • Ask for student evaluation/feedback
  • Post course material on the web. Check that the pages are accessible off-campus.
  • How will students who missed the lecture catch up?
  • How will you consolidate understanding? eg small group activities

Further information