14 Student With Limited Abilities or with Disablities

Teaching The Gospel A CES Resource for Teaching Improvement, (2000), 50

Principle to Emphasize

Teachers will more effectively provide religious education to students with limited abilities when they are sensitive to them and “tailor the religious education experience to their needs and abilities” (Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook, 15).

Suggested Training Activities (30 minutes)

Role Play

Assign each teacher a disability (such as visual, cognitive, auditory, reading, emotional, or mobility). Explain that during the meeting teachers must try to function as if they actually had their assigned limitation.

Scripture Activity

Read 3 Nephi 17:19–22 and discuss how the Savior blessed and prayed for the children “one by one.”


Read together the following statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles about helping those who are disabled strive for improvement.

Striving for Improvement

“Now, in all of this there must be balance, for the handicapped have responsibility to work out their own salvation. The nearer the normal patterns of conduct and discipline apply to the handicapped, the happier they will be.

“Every quarter of an inch of physical and mental improvement is worth striving for. The Prophet Joseph Smith said that ‘all the minds and spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938], p. 354).

“. . . To know just how far to press the handicapped when physical and emotional pain are involved may be the most difficult part for those who serve them. Nevertheless, as the Prophet Joseph Smith said, ‘There must be decision of character, aside from sympathy’ (History of the Church, 4:570)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1991, 8–9; or Ensign, May 1991, 9).


  1. What is involved in providing the “balance” Elder Boyd K. Packer mentioned?

  2. How can you tailor religious education to your students “one by one” while still honoring their individual need to work out their own salvation?

  3. How should learner readiness, participation, and application factor into these efforts?

  4. How (and through whom) could you more successfully assess the needs and abilities of your students? (see handbook, 25).

  5. As strengths and abilities are identified, how could they be capitalized upon?

Discuss the impact of the disabilities assigned at the beginning of this in-service meeting on teachers’ learning experience.

Writing Exercise

Invite teachers to write a plan of how they will try to better assess the needs and abilities of their students and then appropriately tailor their religious education experience.