Some of the terms referring to disorders included under the umbrella term specific learning disabilities are: dyslexia (difficulty with reading), dysgraphia (difficulty with writing), dyscalculia (difficulty with mathematics), and ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity Disorder).
Although a learning disability cannot be “cured,” its impact can be lessened through instructional intervention and compensatory strategies. Appropriate academic adjustments made for students with learning disabilities may include some of the following examples of strategies, depending upon individual needs/circumstances:
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The following strategies are suggested in order to enhance the accessibility of course instruction, materials, and activities. They are general strategies designed to support individualized reasonable accommodations.
A major challenge facing university students with visual impairments is the overwhelming mass of printed material that confronts them (syllabi, course packs, books, time schedules, bibliographies, campus newspapers, posters, and tests). The use of films, videotapes, overhead projectors, and closed-circuit television adds to the volume of visual material to which they must have access in some other way. The following are suggestions to consider when working with visually impaired students:
A wide range of conditions may limit mobility and/or energy. Among the most common permanent disorders are such musculoskeletal disabilities as a partial or total paralysis, amputation or severe injury, arthritis, active sickle cell disease, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and Lyme disease. Additionally, respiratory and cardiac diseases, which are debilitating, may affect mobility. Any of these conditions may also impair the strength, speed, endurance, coordination, or dexterity necessary for university life. While the degree of disability varies, it is important to recognize that, for many reasons, some students may have difficulty getting to or from class, performing in-class, taking notes, and managing out-of-class assignments and tests in a timely manner.
Class access is one of the major concerns of the student who uses a wheelchair or crutches. Faculty should be aware that mobility impaired students sometimes encounter unavoidable situations that may cause them to be late for class. Students with mobility impairments require more travel time between classes; they are often dependent on elevators and indirect but accessible travel routes. For all these reasons, occasional tardiness by students with mobility impairments may be unavoidable.
Auditorium and theater-type classrooms may present difficulties unless there is a large enough flat floor space in the front or rear of the room for a wheelchair. There must also be an entrance to and from that level. For students not using wheelchairs, some seats must be easily reached without steps. Classrooms with tables (provided there is an under table clearance of at least 27-1/2 inches) are more accessible to students in wheelchairs than rooms with standard classroom desks. The DDS will handle arrangements for accessible tables and chairs upon a student’s request.
It is difficult to make generalizations about the classroom needs of students who use wheelchairs, because some students may be able to stand for short periods of time, while others will not be able to stand at all. Some will have full use of their hands and arms, while others will have minimal or no use of them.
Students with psychological/psychiatric disabilities may benefit from the following strategies and modifications, many of which would be appropriate for any student with a disability. On a case by case basis, students will determine the accommodations that are reasonable and appropriate for them in consultation with the disability service provider and dependent upon presentation of the required documentation. Academic accommodations require notification to the professor through disclosure letters provided by the Department of Disability Services for Students and delivered by the student.