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Make language barrier-free

Language itself can constitute a barrier, for example if the language used is not someone’s first language or if a disability requires a specific use of language. Here too it is difficult to give general advice, since the needs and scope for action can be very different. Some aspects can however be implemented in all lessons:

  • Spoken information should also be visualized, and graphics and images explained orally.
  • Ask students if they can hear you and understand you, and ask them to let you know if you should speak louder or slower.
  • Enable students to show their participation in further ways than spoken contributions. More on this in Didactic Principles.
  • Express your readiness to use FM-systems (transmitter microphone for a hearing aid system) or other technical aids, and invite your students to make an appointment during your office hours if they feel the need to. More information on support at Freie Universität Berlin can be found here.

Academia uses specific field related terminology, and one of the important aims of studying is to learn and assimilate these terms and how to use them correctly. However, especially when speaking, try to avoid unnecessarily long sentences, and remember to repeat important points and to transmit content in simple sentences. Even when explaining organizational points such as registration and examination procedures, this can be very helpful for many students, and will also reduce misunderstandings and questions.

Further reading:

Deutsches Studentenwerk, 2013. Informationen für Studieninteressierte und Studierende mit behinderungen und chronischen Krankheiten.

Die Webseite des Netzwerk Leichte Sprache.

Di³ im Rahmen des Programms „Starker Start ins Studium“ und dem Studien-Service-Center der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Hrsg. 2014: Barrierefreies Studium. Leitfaden für Lehrende der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main.