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Lesson 01: Introduction

Lesson 01 | Lesson 02

Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
Distance Learning Course


In this course you will learn strategies for fully including students
with disabilities in academic activities. You will also discuss case
studies and read answers to questions faculty members frequently ask
about accommodating students with disabilities in their
classes. Please select at least one of your existing courses as your
own case to review in light of the issues presented during this
course. For your selected course(s) you will examine access issues for
students with disabilities, explore accommodation strategies, and
consider modifications that would make it more accessible to students
with a variety of disabilities.

The best accommodations for students with disabilities in higher
education are unique to the individual and develop from a cooperative
relationship between the faculty member and the student, with the
assistance of the campus disabled student services office.


This course will consist of fourteen email messages from me, the
course facilitator.

1: Introduction
2: Rights & Responsibilities
3: Universal Design of Instruction
4: Hearing Impairments
5: Visual Impairments
6: Mobility Impairments
7: Health Impairments
8: Learning Disabilities
9: Psychiatric Disabilities
10: Adaptive Technology
11: Distance Learning
12: Resources
13: Conclusions 
14: Course Evaluation

Each lesson will include:
-- designated email SUBJECT heading
-- lesson PURPOSE
-- lesson CONTENT
-- lesson SUMMARY
-- QUESTION for discussion
-- WEB address for further information


This course will be conducted via email. There are no face-to-face
meetings scheduled for this course. I will send one or two email
"lessons" each week to the participants as indicated on the TO: line
of this message.

YOU are expected to read and discuss (via email) issues raised in the
lessons, as well as respond to comments made by other
participants. Please try to send responses to specific email messages
within 24 hours to the group in order to maintain cohesive discussions
within the short time period between lessons.

Netiquette Note: The lessons will contain words in UPPER CASE
LETTERS. In normal email messages, this is considered SHOUTING.
However, for the purposes of this course, I am using upper case for
emphasis only, not for SHOUTING.

To initiate a NEW TOPIC to the participants:
1. Type a short topic title in the "SUBJECT" area of your email message.
2. Write your message.
3. Send your message to the email address(es) in the "TO" line of this
email message.

To REPLY to a message directed to course participants:
1. Use the REPLY command in your electronic mail software, which will
automatically copy the "SUBJECT" title from the original message to
the "SUBJECT" area of your new message to the email address(es) in the
"TO" line of this email message and direct your message to the email
address(es) in the "TO" line of this email message.
2. Write your message.
3. Send your message. 
Depending on the settings of your electronic mail software, the
software may automatically copy the text of the original message into
the message area of the new message. It is useful to have the original
message included in the reply because it lets the participants know
the context of your reply. You may wish to cut out some parts of the
original message to help reduce the total size of the message you are
sending, but be sure to leave intact the essential portions to which
you are replying.

Send a general question to the entire GROUP; another participant may
have the same question, or may have experience dealing with the issue
raised. One of the benefits of this course is developing a network of
people, including me, with whom to share questions and
knowledge. Direct messages that you wish to go to INDIVIDUALS to their
email address only. Send messages to me at my email address on the
"FROM" line of this message.


1. To help keep track of messages for this course, you may wish to
create a separate folder (if your email software allows this). You can
then transfer those messages related to the course from your IN-BOX
(NEW MESSAGES) area to the course folder.

2.  If your email software allows it, you may want to sort the course
messages by SUBJECT after you've read them. This helps you follow the
"thread" of the discussion for that SUBJECT/TITLE, in case you want to
review what has been said about the topic.

This email-based course provides an overview of accommodations for
students with disabilities in postsecondary education. For
comprehensive information consult The Faculty Room website at


In a recent study, the number of postsecondary undergraduate students
identified as having disabilities in the United States was 428,280,
representing 6% of the nation's total student body. The types of
disabilities reported by these students were:
     45.7% Learning disabilities
     13.9% Mobility or orthopedic impairments
     11.6% Health impairments
      7.8% Mental illness or emotional disturbance
      5.6% Hearing impairments
      4.4% Blindness and visual impairments
      0.9% Speech or language impairments
      9.1% Other impairments
(Source: An Institutional Perspective on Students with Disabilities in
Postsecondary Education, National Center for Educational Statistics,
Postsecondary Education Quick Information System, August 1999).

In this course we will discuss issues and strategies related to
students with the following disabilities:

LEARNING DISABILITIES are documented disabilities that may affect
reading, processing information, remembering, calculating, and spatial

MOBILITY IMPAIRMENTS may make walking, sitting, bending, carrying, or
using fingers, hands or arms difficult or impossible. Mobility
impairments result from many causes, including amputation, Polio,
clubfoot, Scoliosis, spinal cord injury, and Cerebral Palsy.

HEALTH IMPAIRMENTS affect daily living and involve the lungs, kidneys,
heart, muscles, liver, intestines, immune systems, and/or other body
parts (e.g., cancer, kidney failure, AIDS).

MENTAL ILLNESS includes mental health and psychiatric disorders that
affect daily living.

HEARING IMPAIRMENTS make it difficult or impossible to hear lecturers,
access multimedia materials, and participate in discussions.

BLINDNESS refers to the disability of students who cannot read printed
text, even when enlarged. LOW VISION refers to students who have some
usable vision, but cannot read standard-size text, have field deficits
(for example, cannot see peripherally or centrally but can see well in
other ranges), or other visual impairments.

A disability may or may not AFFECT the participation of a student in
your class. In postsecondary settings, students are the best source of
information regarding their special needs. They are responsible for
disclosing their disabilities and requesting accommodations. To create
a welcome environment, include a statement on your class syllabus
inviting students who require accommodations to meet with you. For
example, "If you have a documented disability and wish to discuss
academic accommodations, please contact me as soon as possible."

Flexibility and effective communication between student and instructor
are key in approaching accommodations. Although students with similar
disabilities may require different accommodations, it is useful for
you to be aware of typical strategies for working with students who
have various types of impairments. With this basic knowledge you will
be better prepared to ask students to clarify their needs and to
discuss accommodation requests.

Throughout this course, you will be asked to consider access issues
and accommodation strategies presented in this course, in relation to
modifications you might make in your own course. You are not alone in
this venture; you are part of the team.


1. Students with mobility impairments form the largest group of
undergraduates with disabilities.  (T/F)

2. More undergraduate students report having a hearing impairment than
having blindness or a visual impairment. (T/F)

3. Almost one-half of the students who report having a disability have
a learning disability.  (T/F)

Note: The answers to these exercises are: 1. F, 2. T, 3. T.


Please send an email message to the group, sharing the name and a
brief description of the COURSE you will use as your case study during
this distance learning course. In addition, give a short BIOGRAPHY
about yourself including your name, college, department and (optional)
experience in working with students with disabilities.

Your email SUBJECT line should read: Accommodations 1: INTRODUCTION.


This course was created as part of the DO-IT (Disabilities,
Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology) Prof Model
Demonstration Project. DO-IT Prof applies lessons learned by DO-IT and
other programs and researchers nationwide to implement a comprehensive
professional development program for college faculty and
administrators. It is funded by a three-year grant from the
U.S. Department of Education (grant #P33A990042). Any opinions or
recommendations expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the
U.S. Department of Education.


To be placed on the DO-IT mailing list, or to request materials in an
alternative format, contact:

University of Washington
Box 354842
Seattle, WA 98195-4842
206-685-DOIT (3648) -- voice/TTY
888-972-DOIT (3648) -- voice/TTY
206-221-4171 (FAX)
509-328-9331 -- voice/TTY, Spokane office
Director: Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D.

(c) 2001 DO-IT. Permission is granted to copy material in this email
for educational, non-commercial purposes provided the source is