Health Teaching Strategies & Tips for Persons with Disabilities


We may sometimes encounter clients who have difficulty in speaking, hearing or seeing and health teaching can be a great challenge to the nurse. To help you convey your teachings effectively to these types of clients, here are some tips that can help you.

Teaching Strategies

Physical or Emotional Disability

  • Adapt information to accommodate the person’s cognitive, perceptual, and behavior disabilities. Be into that person’s shoes.
  • Give clear written and oral information.
  • Highlight significant information for easy reference.
  • Avoid medical jargon.

Hearing Impairment

  • Use slow, directed, deliberate speech.
  • Use sign language if appropriate.
  • Position yourself so that the person can see your mouth if lip reading.
  • Use telecommunication devices for the hearing impaired (TDD).
  • Use written materials and visual aids, such as models and diagrams.
  • Use captioned videos and films.
  • Teach on the side of the “good ear” if unilateral deafness is present.

Visual Impairment

  • Use optical devices such as a magnifying lens.
  • Use proper lighting and proper contrast of colors on materials and equipment.
  • Use large-print materials.
  • Use Braille materials if appropriate.
  • Convert information to auditory and tactile formats.
  • Obtain audiotapes and talking books.
  • Explain noises associated with procedures, equipment, and treatments.
  • Arrange materials in clockwise pattern.

Learning Disabilities

Input Disability

If visual perceptual disorder:

  1. Explain information verbally, repeat, and reinforce frequently.
  2. Use audiotapes.
  3. Encourage learner to verbalize information received.

If auditory perceptual disorder:

  1. Speak slowly with as few words as possible, repeat, and reinforce frequently.
  2. Use direct eye contact to focus person on task.
  3. Use demonstration and return demonstration such as modeling, role playing, and hands-on experiences.
  4. Use visual tools, written materials, and computers.
Output disability
  1. Use all senses as appropriate.
  2. Use written, audiotape, and computer information.
  3. Review information and give time to interact and ask questions.
  4. Use hand gestures and motions.
Developmental disability
  1. Base information and teaching on developmental stage, not person’s age.
  2. Use nonverbal cues, gestures, signing, and symbols as needed.
  3. Use simple explanations and concrete examples with repetition.
  4. Encourage active participation.
  5. Demonstrate information and have the person perform return demonstrations.

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