Special needs, also known as special education needs (SEN), refers to the individual requirements and circumstances of students with hearing impairment, visual impairment, speech impairment, or other physical or mental disabilities, where such circumstances may influence either those students' participation or the running of classroom activities.
While levelling the playing field as much as possible in the classroom for students with special needs, aspects EFL/ESL teachers should take into consideration include the need to avoid teacher talk and make sure they use authentic language.
Classroom activities and adapted materials
Teachers teaching students with special needs have to take into account other, non-English language related aspects, especially as regards material preparation (handouts, etc.), boardwork, drilling, listening exercises, writing exercises, seating arrangements, testing and assessment, etc.
Handouts may need to be in large print for people with visual impairment. Computer-generated work shown on a projection screen or large-screen TV may need to be in contrast, etc. and the duration of such activities may also need to be considered, as some visually-impaired people cannot concentrate too long on certain objects, intensities, etc.
Seating arrangements, lighting and assistive technologies
Classroom seating needs to be taken into consideration so that students who are hard of hearing or visually impaired are able to sit nearer the teacher and/or the board. Wheelchair users might not be able to fit their wheelchairs under the desk and such situations need to be considered for writing activities or pairwork.
Lighting, whether artificial or sunlight entering through a window, is particularly important. If students bring their own assistive technologies, such as laptops, Braille displays, etc. to the classroom they may need access to the teacher's computer, a power source, and so on.