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  ACADEMIC ADVISING

FACULTY DISABLILITY RESOURCES


SJR State Advising Office Faculty Resources for Students with Disabilities

Effective communication between faculty, students, and the disability coordinator plays a crucial role in appropriately providing accommodations.

Accommodations at the college level are mandated by Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Section 504 is the law that requires that all federally funded programs, including educational programs such as state universities and colleges, provide accommodations to all "otherwise qualified" persons who self-identify as having any disability that "substantially limits one or more major life activities." ADA is defined in the same terms as Section 504 but expands the mandate to include both public and private education, employment, transportation, and telecommunications. Both Section 504 and ADA are intended to insure that persons with disabilities of any type are not discriminated against in such a way as to exclude them from participating fully in society.

Many of the students registered with the disability coordinator have disabilities that are not apparent to the untrained observer. Therefore, if a student is experiencing unexplained difficulty in class assignments or examinations, faculty are encouraged to refer students to the disability coordinator to assist in determining appropriate support services. However, when students request specific classroom accommodations as a result of a disability, a faculty member is obligated to accommodate them only if the disability coordinator has certified the students’ eligibility for accommodations. The students will provide you with an accommodation letter from the disability coordinator verifying their eligibility.

Accommodation Notification
Faculty & Staff Compliance
Confidentiality
Students with disabilities
Categories of Disabilities
Categories of Accommodations
Office of Interpreter Services
Testing Accommodations
Note-taker Procedures
Faculty and Staff Training and Development
Classroom Modifications
Assistive Technology
Recommended Instructional Techniques



Specific Teaching Strategies for Different Types of Disabilities:

Students with Chronic Illness or Pain
Students Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
Students with Learning Disabilities
Students with attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Students with Limited Manual Dexterity
Teaching Students with Mobility Impairments
Teaching Students with Psychological Disabilities
Students with Speech Impairments
Students with Visual Disabilities



Faculty Rights & Responsibilities
HELPFUL LINKS












Accommodation Notification
It is suggested that all students who have accommodation letters to give to their instructors do so within the first week of classes each semester. Some students elect to have the accommodation letters sent directly from the disability coordinator to the instructor. In either case, when this is done, both the student and the instructor are aware of the necessary accommodations and the process of providing the accommodations is much more efficient.

Upon receipt of the accommodation letter, each faculty member is responsible for reviewing the information in the letter. at any point that faculty members have questions or concerns about the information contained in the letter, they should immediately contact the disability coordinator to discuss those issues. Unless the disability coordinator is contacted, it can only be assumed that there are no questions with any particular student's accommodation package. Most classroom accommodations are easy to arrange and will not take much time to administer. If, however, assistance is needed, contact the disability coordinator. The disability coordinator will make the accommodation process simple and effective for both student and staff.

Palatka - 386-312-4036 - Shyla Joy
Orange Park - 904-276-6842 - Dr. Patrick Arnwine
St. Augustine - 904-808-7418 - Mark Breidenstein

If a student finds that their accommodations are not effective or they need to be modified in order to meet the unique demands of individualized courses, they can contact the disability coordinator and request those revisions. It is essential that the student and the disability coordinator collaboratively develop and modify any accommodations.

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Faculty & Staff Compliance
Consult with disability coordinator before you agree to or refuse any accommodation. Instructors can be held personally liable for refusing to accommodate a student with a disability so be sure to seek assistance from disability coordinator before making any decisions about a request for accommodation that may seem unreasonable to you. accommodations should be fundamentally fair, reasonable, and related to the student's disability. This applies to the traditional classroom, hybrid and online classes.

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Confidentiality
SJR State assures the confidentiality of student educational records in accordance with Florida College System rules, state statutes, and the Family Education Rights and Privacy act of 1974.

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Students with disabilities; definition.- For the purposes of this chapter, the term “student with a disability” means a student who is documented as having an intellectual disability; a hearing impairment, including deafness; a speech or language impairment; a visual impairment, including blindness; an emotional or behavioral disability; an orthopedic or other health impairment; an autism spectrum disorder; a traumatic brain injury; or a specific learning disability, including, but not limited to, dyslexia, dyscalculia, or developmental aphasia.” F.S. 1007.02

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Categories of Disabilities
a disability can be any variety of documented challenges that students face that somehow inhibits their academic performance. The disability coordinators serve students who meet the following criteria:

  • Deaf/Hard of Hearing: This is a hearing loss of 30 decibels or greater, pure tone average of 500, 1000, 2000, and 4000 (Hz), unaided, in the better ear. Examples include, but are not limited to, conductive hearing impairment or deafness, sensor neural hearing impairment or deafness, and high or low tone hearing loss or deafness, and acoustic trauma hearing loss or deafness.
  • Visual Impairment: This includes disorders in the structure and function of the eye as manifested by at least one of the following: visual acuity of 20/70 or less in the better eye after the best possible correction, a peripheral field so constricted that it affects one’s ability to function in an educational setting, or a progressive loss of vision which may affect one’s ability to function in an educational setting. Examples include, but are not limited to, cataracts, glaucoma, nystagmus, retinal detachment, retinitis pigmentosa, and strabismus.
  • Specific Learning Disability: This is a disorder of one or more of the basic psychological or neurological processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or written language. Disorders may be manifested in listening, thinking, reading, writing, spelling, or performing arithmetic calculations. Examples include dyslexia, dysgraphia, dysphasia, dyscalculia, and other specific learning disabilities in the basic psychological or neurological processes. Such disorders do not include learning problems which are due primarily to visual, hearing, or motor handicaps, to mental retardation, to emotional disturbance, or to environmental deprivation.
  • Orthopedic Impairment: This is a disorder of the musculoskeletal, connective tissue, and neuromuscular system. Examples include, but are not limited to, cerebral palsy, absence of some body member, clubfoot, nerve damage to the hand and arm, cardiovascular aneurysm (CVA), head injury and spinal cord injury, arthritis and rheumatism, epilepsy, intracranial hemorrhage, embolism, thrombosis (stroke), poliomyelitis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and congenital malformation of brain cellular tissue. also included are physical disorders pertaining to muscles and nerves, usually as a result of disease or birth defect. These include, but are not limited to, muscular dystrophy and congenital muscle disorders.
  • Speech/ Language Impairment: This is a disorder of language, articulation, fluency, or voice which interfere with communication, pre-academic or academic learning, vocational training, or social adjustment. Examples include, but are not limited to, cleft lip and/or palate with speech impairment, stammering, stuttering, laryngectomy, and aphasia.
  • Emotional or Behavioral Disability: This is a mental or psychological disorder including, but not limited to, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, or attention deficit disorders.
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder: These are disorders characterized by an uneven developmental profile and a pattern of qualitative impairments in social interaction, communication, and the presence of restricted repetitive, and/or stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, or activities. These characteristics may manifest in a variety of combinations and range from mild to severe.
  • Traumatic Brain Injury: This is an injury of the brain, not of a degenerative or congenital nature but caused by an external force. The injury may produce a diminished or altered state of consciousness, which results in impairment of cognitive ability and/or physical functioning.
  • Other Health Impairment: This includes any disability not identified above except those students who have been documented as having an intellectual disability, deemed by a disability professional to make completion of the requirement impossible.
  • Intellectual Disability: An intellectual disability is defined as significantly below average general intellectual and adaptive functioning manifested during the developmental period, with significant delays in academic skills. Developmental period refers to birth to eighteen (18) years of age.


The disability coordinator encourages students who are unsure if they qualify for services to call or visit the Academic Advising office to speak to the disability coordinator. Some disabilities do not cause difficulties for students until they reach college. The disability coordinators are willing to provide guidance for students that have questions about a possible disability.

While these descriptions and suggestions can be helpful when a student with a disability is in your classroom, it is important to remember that each student is an individual, and that different disabilities create different circumstances. Even among those with the same disability, an accommodation that makes a difference to one student may have little value to another. There is no “one size fits all” accommodation.

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Categories of Accommodations - Accommodations apply to traditional classroom, hybrid and online classes.

  • Extra time on quizzes, tests, or exams. (no more than double time, depending on circumstances)
  • Quiet and separate testing environment.
  • Test scribe or reader.
  • Assistive technology for tests.
  • Permission to audiotape lectures.
  • Note taker.
  • Interpreter services.
  • Educational assistant.
  • Advance access to copies of printed materials for PowerPoint and overhead presentations.
  • Course material in large print.
  • Books on tape.
  • Brailling services.
  • Use of FM device.
  • Use of a spell check device.
  • Use of a non-programmable/non-graphing calculator.
  • Assistive technology services.
  • Priority registration.
  • Reduced course load equaling full-time status.
  • Flexible attendance policy including additional course drops with fee waiver for third attempts.
  • Preferential time of day tests.
  • Course substitutions.

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Office of Interpreter Services
The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind has partnered with SJR State to establish the Office of Interpreter Services. The office is located on the St. Augustine Campus; however, services are available on all campuses. Services include: interpreters in the classroom, interpreters for advisors, and video phones.

CONTACT:
Allyson Steele
SJR State Coordinator of Interpreters
(904) 808-7457 - office
(904) 808-7457 - Voice/video phone

Relay service for the hearing and vision impaired:
(TDD) 1-800-955-8771 or
(VOICE) 1-800-955-8770

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Testing accommodations
Students with disabilities that interfere with their performance on examinations may benefit from accommodations directly related to their examination issues. If this is the case, students can request accommodated testing as an accommodation supported by the disability coordinator. If examination accommodations are appropriate, the student simply follows this procedure:

  • Assure examination accommodations are identified in the accommodation memorandum presented to each instructor early in the semester.
  • Contact the disability coordinator at least 5 business days prior to the examination date to confirm testing arrangements.
  • Arrive to the appropriate testing site at least fifteen minutes before the start of the examination.


It is the responsibility of the instructor to both deliver and pick up tests that are being proctored by the disability coordinator.

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Note-taker Procedures
If a student needs a note taker, you will be informed by disability coordinator through a faculty letter memorandum and asked to make an anonymous announcement in class asking for a note taker. The disability coordinator will arrange to pay note takers for their services. Please include this information as part of the anonymous announcement because it often helps in the recruiting of note takers. Encourage students seeking to become note takers to visit the disability coordinator as soon as possible after being notified.

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Faculty and Staff Training and Development
The Academic Advisings offices are committed to sharing general information about students with disabilities with the SJR State community. This includes individual consultations or group training sessions designed to provide opportunities for faculty and staff to engage in dialogue about providing accommodations to students with disabilities and have their questions answered. If you are interested in arranging a departmental training session or an individual meeting, please call Karen Thomas, Director of Academic Advising at extension 4037 or the disability coordinator on your campus.

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Classroom Modifications
If your class is assigned to an inaccessible location or a student needs modified furniture, such as an accessible desk or an orthopedic chair notify the disability coordinator immediately so that the classroom location can be changed and/or any modified furniture can be moved into the classroom as soon as possible.

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Assistive Technology
Some examples of Adaptive equipment include but are not limited to:

  • Accessible desks;
  • Spell checkers;
  • Tape recorders;
  • JAWS for Windows screen reader;
  • ZoomText screen enlarger and Text-to-Speech software;
  • Natural Reader Text-to-Speech software;
  • Campus network/Internet access in disability coordinator and/or computer labs;
  • Screen magnifiers; and
  • Magnification devices.


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Recommended Instructional Techniques

  • Provide a detailed syllabus and lecture outline/written overview.
  • Use good quality visual media (i.e. board, overhead projector, or handouts) to highlight key concepts when lecturing.
  • Supply a list of technical terminology and unfamiliar words or terms.
  • Post notice of class cancellations, assignments, etc., in writing to ensure understanding.
  • Announce reading assignments well in advance.
  • Provide all assignments in oral and written format and be available for further clarification.
  • Provide a study guide for text and encourage study groups, peer tutoring, and study labs; prepare study questions for review sessions.
  • Encourage use of accommodations recommended by the disability coordinator such as note takers and extra time for exams.
  • Use textbooks that are available in PDF., e-book, CD, braille and other alternative and accessible formats.


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Students with Chronic Illness or Pain
Some students have medical conditions that are "non-apparent" (not easy to see), but cause serious problems in an educational setting. Students can be disabled by chronic illnesses such as asthma, arthritis, diabetes, cardiopulmonary disease, cancer, chronic fatigue, immune deficiency syndrome, and seizure disorders. They can also be disabled by medical conditions that cause intense and continual pain: for example, repetitive stress injury, post-surgery, and back problems.

Symptoms of all these conditions can be unpredictable and fluctuating. Students with chronic illness or pain may have limited energy and difficulty walking, standing, or sitting for a long time. Their pain, or the side-effects of medications, may cause them to become dizzy or confused, making it hard for them to pay attention in classes, complete out-of-class assignments, do library research, and stay focused during exams.

The following suggestions may help you to work effectively with students who have disabling medical conditions.

  • Medical conditions, including medication side-effects, can cause problems with fatigue and stamina which adversely affect attention and concentration. For these reasons, students with medical conditions may need extended time on exams and assignments.
  • Students with some medical conditions may become dizzy and disoriented, or may lack physical stamina. Thus they may be unable to quickly get from one location on campus to another. For these reasons, a student may be late getting to class. Please be patient when this happens.
  • Preferential seating may be necessary to meet student needs. In a few situations, students may be unable to use the type of chair provided in a particular classroom. If they are forced to stand during class, students may need podiums on which to rest open books and write.
  • Instructors in courses requiring field trips or internships need to work with their students and the disability coordinator to be sure the students' needs are met. For example, the students may need assistance with transportation, special seating, or frequent rest-breaks.
  • Some students experience recurrence of a chronic condition requiring bed rest and/or hospitalization. In most situations students are able to make up the incomplete work, but they may need extra time.


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Students Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
For obvious reasons, students who are deaf or hard of hearing face enormous obstacles in an academic setting. It is essential that instructors maintain effective communication with these students, though instructors may sometimes feel awkward working with sign language interpreters or resorting to visual communication techniques (body language, gestures, and facial expressions).

Students who are deaf or hard of hearing are not all alike. Some are extremely adept at reading lips and others are not; some communicate orally and others use sign language, gestures, writing, or a combination of these methods. In class, students who are deaf may have sign language interpreters, or they may rely on real-time captioners (people who immediately type whatever is said so that the spoken utterance can be read on a computer screen). Students who have some usable hearing may use a device to amplify sounds: in class they may rely on hearing aids alone, or they may use an "assistive listening device." When students are using assistive listening devices, instructors may be asked to wear cordless lapel micro transmitters.

Following are suggestions for improving the academic situation of students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

  • Always speak directly to the student, not to the student's sign language interpreter.
  • During class discussions, ensure that no more than one person speaks at a time. When a class member asks a question, repeat the question before answering
  • Loss of visual contact may mean loss of information for some students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Unless the students are using sign-language interpreters or real-time captioners, be sure that the students have visual contact with you before you begin lecturing. avoid giving information while handing out papers or writing on a chalkboard.
  • Provide seats near the front of the class so students with hearing impairments can get as much from visual and auditory clues as possible.
  • Use captioned videos whenever possible. When showing uncaptioned videos, slides, or movies provide an outline or summary in advance. If the classroom must be darkened, be sure that the student's interpreter is clearly visible.
  • When reading directly from text, provide an advance copy and pause slightly when interjecting information not in the text.
  • When working with the chalkboard or an overhead projection system, pause briefly so that the student may look first at the board/screen, and then at the interpreter, to see what is being said.


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Students with Learning Disabilities
Students with learning disabilities are as intelligent as other students. However, they also have severe "information-processing deficits" that make them perform significantly worse in one or more academic areas (reading, writing, math) than might be expected, given their intelligence and performance in other academic areas. Though all learning disabilities are different, students with learning disabilities report some common problems including: slow and inefficient reading; slow essay-writing with problems in organization and the mechanics of writing; and frequent errors in math calculation.

The following suggestions may be helpful in working with students who have learning disabilities, and also those who have head injuries.

  • Students with learning disabilities may take longer to complete exams and may need extended time.
  • Students with learning disabilities may also take longer to complete assignments, so it is particularly important to provide a detailed syllabus at the beginning of the class. The syllabus should list all assignments and due-dates.
  • If possible, provide frequent opportunities for feedback including: weekly quizzes on assigned reading, instructor review of early drafts of essays and error-analysis of tests. If a student's written exams seem far inferior to the student's classwork, the two of you can meet during your office hours for a discussion of the exam questions. This discussion will give you a better idea of what the student really knows and how you can help the student produce better exams or other written work.
  • Encourage students to contact you in order to clarify assignments. You might suggest that students re-phrase the assignment and send the re-phrased version to you via e-mail. You can then reply via e-mail, confirming that the student has understood the assignment or correcting misunderstandings.
  • In addition to having your booklist in the Bookstore, post course materials on your website and send them to the disability coordinator. Some students with learning disabilities will need to order their textbooks from Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic or from the publisher, and ordering and receiving the books can take anywhere from two weeks to eight months.
  • Be sensitive to students who, for disability-related reasons, may be unable to read aloud or answer questions when called on. If students make you aware of these difficulties, you and the students can discuss other ways they can meaningfully participate in class sessions.
  • Compose exams in a way that makes them accessible for students with learning disabilities.
  • Make sure that exams are clearly written or typed, in large black letters or numbers, with spaces between lines and with double or triple spaces between items. To avoid visual confusion, avoid cramming too many questions or math problems onto one page. Print questions on only one side of the paper.
  • Group similar types of questions together: for example, all true/false, all multiple-choice, all short-answers. Leave several spaces between multiple-choice items.
  • Permit students to circle answers in the test booklet rather than darkening circles on a Scantron sheet.
  • allow students to use extra paper in preparing answers to essay questions. (Encourage the students to turn in preliminary outlines or scrawled notes with the completed exam bluebooks.)
  • Suggest that math students use graph paper (or lined paper turned sideways) to ensure neatness and avoid confusion when performing math calculations.


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Students with attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is characterized by a persistent pattern of frequent and severe inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsiveness. People with ADHD have many problems in academic settings. Some of these problems are similar to the problems of people with learning disabilities: slow and inefficient reading, slow essay-writing, and frequent errors in math calculation and the mechanics of writing. Other problems that are especially characteristic of ADHD include: time-management, task-completion, organization, and memory.

For suggestions on working effectively with students who have ADHD, please review our section on learning disabilities (above), as well as the following.

  • Students with ADHD generally perform better if given a syllabus with clear explanations of tasks and specific due-dates. It is helpful to keep reminding students of impending deadlines. "Remember, the problem sets are due on Friday."
  • Whenever possible, start each lecture with a summary of material to be covered, or provide a written outline. If you use broad margins and triple-space, students will be able to take notes directly onto the outline: an aid to organization. at the conclusion of each lecture, review major points.
  • Students with ADHD may tend to "drift" mentally during class, especially during long lectures. They are better able to stay tuned-in when the class material is stimulating and the format varied (for example, lecture alternating with presentations and class discussion). If the class goes on for several hours, be sure to permit several breaks.
  • Students with ADHD are often distractible, so you should invite them to sit near the front of the class, away from possible sources of distraction such as doors, windows, and noisy heaters.
  • Avoid making assignments orally, since ADHD students may miss them. always write assignments on the chalkboard, or (even better) pass them out in written form.
  • Provide test-sites that are relatively distraction-free. When students are taking tests with extended test-time, do not ask them to move from one test-site to another.
  • For large projects or long papers, help the student break down the task into its component parts. Set deadlines for each part. For example, there might be deadlines for the proposal of an essay topic, for a research plan, for the completion of research, for pre-writing to find the essay's thesis, for a writing-plan or outline, for a first-draft, and for a final edited manuscript.


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Students with Limited Manual Dexterity
Students may have limited manual dexterity as a result of illness or injury. In this age of the computers, increasing numbers of students are developing carpal tunnel syndrome, which causes them to suffer severe pain when they take notes or write exams. Following are some suggestions on working with students who have limited manual dexterity.

  • Whether they handwrite, use computers, or dictate to scribes, students with limited manual dexterity generally need extended time for examinations.
  • Students with limited manual dexterity need frequent rest breaks during exams, since handwriting and typing are slow and painful, and dictating to a scribe is difficult and mentally fatiguing.
  • During lab sessions, students with limited manual dexterity often need assistance to manipulate equipment, make notes, and complete lab reports.


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Teaching Students with Mobility Impairments
Mobility impairments can have many causes: for example, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and spinal cord injury. Students with mobility impairments have varying physical limitations and deal with their limitations in different ways. They may use crutches, braces, or a wheelchair.

Below are some suggestions on working with students who have mobility impairments.

  • Students who have upper body limitations may need note takers, extended exam time, and audiotape recorders or scribes to record exam answers. The disability coordinators provide note takers and scribes. You'll need to provide exam rooms in which students can dictate into audiotape recorders or confer with scribes without disturbing other exam-takers.
  • Students with upper body weakness may not be able to raise their hands to participate in class discussion. Establish eye contact with the students and call on them when they indicate that they wish to contribute.
  • A wheelchair is part of a student's "personal space." No one should lean on a chair, touch it, or push it unless asked. Whenever you are talking one-to-one with a student in a wheelchair, you yourself should be seated so the student does not have to peer upward at you.
  • Please understand that for reasons beyond their control, students with severe mobility impairments may be late to class. Some are unable to quickly move from one location to another due to architectural barriers, inadequate public transportation, or hilly terrain on campus.
  • Special seating arrangements may be necessary to meet student needs. Students may require special chairs, lowered tables on which to write, or spaces for wheelchairs. In laboratory courses, students who use wheelchairs may need lower lab tables to accommodate their chairs and allow for the manipulation of tools or other equipment.
  • Instructors in courses requiring field trips or internships need to work with students and the disability coordinator to be sure the students' needs are met. For example, students may need assistance with transportation, special seating, or frequent rest-breaks.
  • Not all mobility impairments are constant and unchanging. Some students experience exacerbations or relapses requiring bed rest or hospitalization. In most cases, students are able to make up the incomplete work, but they may need extra time.


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Teaching Students with Psychological Disabilities
Some students have psychological disabilities such as depression, bipolar disorder, or severe anxiety. Psychological disabilities complicate many areas of life, including education. Every case is different, but there are some commonalties in the academic experiences of students with psychological disabilities. These students report difficulties with focusing, concentrating, and completing work in a timely fashion. Reading, writing, and math may require extra effort and more time. ability to function effectively may vary from day to day. In response to stress, students may experience an increase in symptoms. Medications help with some symptoms of psychological disability, but medication side-effects (drowsiness or headaches) can contribute to a student's academic problems.

We suggest that you review our suggestions (above) about learning disabilities and attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. a number of these suggestions will also be appropriate for students with psychological disabilities. Following are some suggestions specifically addressed to the needs of students who have psychological disabilities.

  • Psychological disabilities are not well understood and accepted in our society, and many students with psychological disabilities have good reason to fear the reactions of others. Please make every effort to make students feel comfortable if they disclose their psychological disabilities to you. Don't press students to explain their disabilities if they do not wish to do so. With the consent of the student, disability coordinator can provide you with further information.
  • Understand that for disability-related reasons, these students may sometimes have to miss class, or even leave the room in the middle of a class. The students will be responsible for the content of any lectures missed, but they will appreciate your helping them to fill in the gaps.


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Students with Speech Impairments
Speech impairments can have many causes: dysfluencies such as stuttering, neurological conditions such as Tourette's Syndrome, surgical removal of the larynx, stroke, traumatic head injury, and degenerative illness. Students with speech impairments may communicate in various ways. Some students speak with their own voices, but slowly and with some lack of clarity. Other students write notes, point to communication boards, use electronic speech-synthesizers, or communicate through assistants who interpret their speech to other people. Following are some suggestions on working with students who have speech impairments.

  • In communicating with students who have speech impairments, resist the temptation to indicate that you have understood when in fact you have not. Students with speech impairments are accustomed to being asked to repeat, so don't be afraid that you'll offend them if you ask them to "say it again" or to spell words that you can't decipher.
  • When students have speech impairments, meet with them early in the semester to discuss their communication styles and how they can best function in your classroom. Will they be able to answer if you call on them? Will they be able to ask questions and make comments during class discussion or do oral presentations? If not, brainstorm other ways the student can demonstrate competency.
  • If a communication assistant accompanies the student to class, address your comments and questions to the student rather than the assistant.


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Students with Visual Disabilities
Like students who are deaf or hard of hearing, students with visual disabilities are at a great disadvantage academically. Though they can hear lectures and discussions, students with visual disabilities are often frustrated by class syllabi, textbooks, chalkboard diagrams, overhead projections, films, maps, videos, printed exams, Scantron answer sheets, laboratory demonstrations, and Internet websites designed to be navigated by clicking on images.

Students with visual disabilities vary considerably. Some have no vision, others are able to see large shapes, and still others can read standard print if magnified. Depending on their disabilities, they use a variety of accommodations, equipment, and compensatory strategies. For example, many students with visual disabilities need extra time for exams and projects, and many use readers or scribes for exams.

Most students with visual disabilities take advantage of assistive technology. Computers can enlarge print; materials can be converted to Braille. Screen readers and book scanners and enlargers can be used. Some students also use audiotape recorders, portable note-taking devices, or talking calculators.

Following are some suggestions on instructing students with visual disabilities.

  • Students with visual disabilities may need preferential seating. Your student should be seated near the front of the class to hear clearly what is being presented and to see as much as possible.
  • Well before the beginning of your class, leave a list of required and recommended texts at your department office, and tell the office staff that students with disabilities should be permitted to make copies of the list. Put the book-list on your course website; send the list to the disability coordinator. Some students with visual disabilities will need to order their textbooks from Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic or from the publisher, and receiving accessible books takes time.
  • When using an overhead projector with transparencies, use a large print-size: at least 18 points. Provide additional time for students with visual disabilities to copy the material on the transparencies, or provide them with printed copies.
  • Whenever possible, modify the presentation of material to make it accessible.
  • Allow the student to audiotape lectures or use a note taker.
  • Pace the presentation of material. If referring to a textbook or handout, allow time for students with visual disabilities to find the information.
  • When lecturing, avoid making statements that cannot be understood by people without sight. "This diagram sums up what I am saying about statistics." Don't worry about using words and phrases that refer to sight. "See you later!" Such expressions are commonly used, and most people with visual disabilities don't find them offensive.
  • Read aloud everything that you write on the chalkboard. Verbally describe objects and processes whenever possible.
  • In making comparisons and analogies, use familiar objects that don't depend on prior visual knowledge. Foods and objects found around the house are good choices. You might say, for example, that a particular dance movement requires a lot of weaving and turning, "like getting from one side of the living room to the other on moving day."


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Faculty and staff have the right to:

  • Require students with disabilities to provide proof of registration with the disability coordinator.
  • Expect that students with disabilities will communicate their requests for accommodations in a timely manner.
  • Uphold standards for courses and expect that, with or without accommodations, students with disabilities will complete the same or equal course requirements.

Faculty and staff have the responsibility to:

  • Ensure that reasonable accommodations are arranged, provided, or allowed.
  • Provide information and materials in alternative formats upon request.
  • Treat all students with the same fundamental fairness.
  • Follow the confidentiality guidelines and laws outlined in this document.
  • Make students with disabilities aware of procedures for securing accommodations by including a statement in their syllabi such as:

    “Students with disabilities who require a note taker or other accommodations should notify their instructor as soon as possible so those accommodations can be coordinated with the appropriate office. Students who would like to be a note taker should notify their instructor as well.”


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HELPFUL LINKS

ADA & Disability Info


Disability Information


Blind and Visually Impaired


Deaf and Hard of Hearing


The Laws


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