Institute for Academic Development
Institute for Academic Development


Physical learning spaces, attendance, and sensitivity.

Physical learning spaces

What makes a physical learning space accessible?

  • Would a student using a wheelchair be able to access the teaching space and safely move about in it?
  • Does the building have a lift? If so, is it in full working order?
  • If a lift or access area requires someone to “ring for assistance” is there always someone to answer the ring?
  • Does the building have an accessible toilet? If so, is it in working order?
  • Are there benches or tables at the required height for wheelchair users?
  • If space for wheelchair users is restricted is the student still able to see and hear the lecture easily?
  • Are there electric sockets for students’ use of essential equipment?
  • Are you wearing a microphone which works?
  • Is there an operational loop system for students who may use a hearing aid?
  • Do you read out any PowerPoint presentation to ensure that students who have visual impairments are fully aware of the content?
  • Can lighting intensity be adjusted?

Of course it may not be ‘reasonable’ to provide these adjustments in all learning environments but these should be considered in all new builds and refurbishments.

If it is not possible to provide for students’ needs in a particular area, can the teaching space be moved elsewhere?

To find out more about the University’s physical accessibility and guides to specific buildings on campus, please see:

Guides to building accessibility

Example: "One of our students who has a physical impairment was unable to see the high screen used in lectures and so a low portable screen was installed that could be wheeled into position for the student to see." (School of Biomedical Sciences)


Some students will know that 100% attendance will be unlikely due to, for example, childcare arrangements, periodic illness, or scheduled medical appointments. If there is compulsory or performance monitored attendance then this should be made clear pre-application.

It is important that none of our students miss out in unforeseeable circumstances, therefore some departments have taken the decision to use lecture capture. For more information about how you can pilot this in your school, please see:

Lecture capture service

Alternatively, you could upload detailed lecture notes to your course’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) after classes to ensure all students are able to keep up with the course.

For more information on recording lectures please see:

Personal recording of lectures


It is extremely important to remember that all members of the University community have a right to privacy. It is a violation of the law to fail to respect this, as well as damaging to our commitment to equality and diversity, and our students’ experience, to do so.

If in a particular, rare circumstance you feel it important to disclose a student’s protected characteristic to others in a learning environment it is essential to obtain the student’s consent beforehand. You must also ensure that your treatment of disclosure and discussions with individual students is sensitive and respectful at all times.