Lesson Introduction

Ensuring Equal Access for All Students

Accessibility Strategies

Instructional Strategies for Special Populations

Local policies, based on state and federal laws, define the instructional strategies and arrangements used within a given school, including those for members of special populations. Most campuses have specialists who can assist with selecting and implementing classroom strategies for working with students with special needs.

WBL activities that take place in workplace settings must comply with the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) administered through the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and state labor laws.

Individualized Education Plans (IEP)

The Texas Administrative Code (TAC §75.1023) requires students with disabilities to have an individualized education program (IEP) in the least restrictive environment (LRE), as determined by the Admissions, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) committee. If a student is unable to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in a regular CTE program using supplementary aids and services, the student may be served in separate programs designed to address the student's occupational/training needs, such as CTE for students with disabilities (CTED) programs.

Participation in ARD Meetings

WBL instructors who have special populations students in their courses need to attend and participate in ARD meetings to better understand the curriculum requirements for students in their classes. According to TAC §75.1023 (d) (1), "the ARD committee must include a representative from CTE, preferably the teacher, when considering initial or continued placement of a student in a CTE program." Teachers should be notified by the Special Education Department of these meetings so arrangements can be made to be in attendance.

Individual Education Program

The IEP developed in the ARD meeting for a special education student participating in a career preparation or practicum course should include learning objectives and an outline of appropriate work activities for the student, as well as any required accommodations and/or modifications.

Accommodations Modifications
Accommodations are simply supports to get the student to the same goal (license, credential, dual credit, practicum, etc.) without changing the content or conceptual difficulty of the CTE curriculum. Modifications are changes in content, process, and/or learning outcomes for students with an IEP so students are able to get to some of the same success levels (may exclude the license, credential, dual credit, practicum, etc.).



When completing the IEP, address the learning objectives in the least restrictive environment. During the school year, teachers, training sponsors, and students are responsible for following the IEP, including any specific requirements or provisions identified for the student on the work site.

The LEA is responsible for providing supplementary services that each student with a disability needs to successfully complete a CTE program, such as curriculum modification, equipment modification, classroom modification, supportive personnel, and instructional aids and devices. School districts are also required to monitor whether the instruction being provided students with disabilities in CTE classes is consistent with the IEP developed for a student.

Additional Resources

Two of the best resources for materials, information, rules, and regulations available for teachers of special populations students are

  • the campus or school district's Special Education Department; and
  • the Career and Technical Special Populations (CTSP) instructional videos.

Take a moment to bookmark the Accommodations and Modifications instructional videos on the Texas CTE Resource Center website. 

Training Plans for Special Populations

Female student in a wheelchair
The IEP does not replace the need for an individualized training plan for students who have a disability and are enrolled in a career preparation or practicum course.

IEPs and individualized training plans serve different purposes. Also, CTE WBL programs should not be confused with Vocational Adjustment Class (VAC) programs. VAC instruction occurs in a special education setting and is aligned to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) defined by the student's IEP. Career preparation and CTE practicum courses are general education courses open to all students.

All students enrolled in a career preparation or CTE practicum course, including those from special populations, are expected to meet the same mastery criteria based on the TEKS of the course and the student's individualized training plan.

Creating a comprehensive training plan is a best practice for all students participating in a WBL experience. Instructors can best support students with special needs by

  • allowing students to decide when and how much to tell others about their disability;
  • helping them understand how their disability affects their capacity to learn and/or perform effectively; and
  • empowering them to determine what environmental adjustments, supports, and services they need to access, participate, and excel in school, at work, and in the community.

Take a moment to download 411 on Disability Disclosure: A Workbook for Youth with Disabilities.

This may be an appropriate individual study assignment for a student's training plan. It is designed to help students think through and make their own decisions about when and how to disclose their disabilities. It includes a chapter on disclosing a disability on the job to receive reasonable accommodations.

The workbook also is an excellent way for instructors to gain a better understanding of what a student may be feeling and the resources available to help students with disabilities receive the accommodations they need.

Quick Check #1

Quick Check #2

Lesson Review

Lesson Conclusion