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Lesson 08: Learning Disabilities

Lesson 07 | Lesson 08 | Lesson 09

Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
Distance Learning Course
Subject: Accommodations 8: LEARNING DISABILITIES

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PURPOSE

The purpose of this lesson is to increase your awareness of the issues
and strategies related specifically to accommodating students with
LEARNING DISABILITIES.

By reflecting on YOUR own course while reading the CONTENT, you will
be guided to consider possible modifications to your course
SPECIFICALLY related to LEARNING DISABILITIES. By sharing and
discussing course modifications with other participants, you will
develop an awareness of additional strategies and applications of the
issues related to accommodations for students with LEARNING
DISABILITIES.

Questions to REFLECT upon while reading the CONTENT

What challenges might students with LEARNING DISABILITIES face in your
selected course?  And what accommodations might they require?

==========
CONTENT

We are now concentrating on accommodations for students with specific
disabilities or impairments. This lesson presents issues and
suggestions related to accommodations for students with LEARNING
DISABILITIES.

Students with specific learning disabilities generally have average to
above average intelligence but may have DIFFICULTIES ACQUIRING and
DEMONSTRATING knowledge and understanding. This results in a lack of
achievement for age and ability level, and a severe DISCREPANCY
between their achievement and intellectual abilities.

According to the National Joint Committee for Learning Disabilities,
LEARNING DISABILITIES are a heterogeneous group of disorders
manifested by significant difficulties in the ACQUISITION and USE of
listening, speaking, writing, reasoning, or mathematical
abilities. The specific causes of learning disabilities are not
clearly understood; however, these disorders are presumably related to
central nervous system dysfunction. The EFFECTS of a learning
disability are manifested differently for each individual and can
range from mild to severe. LEARNING disabilities may also be present
with other disabilities such as MOBILITY or SENSORY impairments and
Attention Deficit Disorder.

Specific TYPES of LEARNING DISABILITIES include:

DYSGRAPHIA
An individual with DYSGRAPHIA has a difficult time with the PHYSICAL
TASK of forming letters and words using a pen and paper and has
difficulty producing legible handwriting.

DYSCALCULA
A person with DYSCALCULA has difficulty understanding and using MATH
CONCEPTS and SYMBOLS.

DYSLEXIA
An individual with DYSLEXIA may MIX UP LETTERS within words and
sentences while reading. He may have difficulty spelling words
correctly while writing. Letter reversals are common. Some individuals
with dyslexia have a difficult time with navigating and route-finding
tasks as they are easily confused by directions and spatial
information such as left and right.

DYSPRAXIA
A person with DYSPRAXIA may mix up words and sentences while
talking. There is often a DISCREPANCY between language COMPREHENSION
and language PRODUCTION.

NON-VERBAL LEARNING DISORDER
Poor motor COORDINATION, visual-spatial ORGANIZATION, and/or a lack of
SOCIAL SKILLS may characterize non-verbal learning disorders.

For a student with a learning disability, AUDITORY, VISUAL, or TACTILE
INFORMATION can become JUMBLED at any point during transmission,
receipt, processing, and/or re-transmission. For example, it may TAKE
LONGER for some students who have learning disabilities to PROCESS
written information. Lengthy reading or writing assignments and tests
may therefore, be difficult to complete in a standard amount of
time. This may be due to difficulty discriminating numerals or letters
because they appear jumbled or reversed. Inconsistencies between
knowledge and test scores are also common.

Some students who have learning disabilities may be ABLE to organize
and communicate their thoughts in a ONE-TO-ONE conversation but find
it DIFFICULT to articulate the same ideas in a NOISY CLASSROOM. Other
students may experience difficulties with SPECIFIC PROCESSES or
subject areas such as calculating mathematics problems, reading, or
understanding language. People with learning disabilities may have
difficulty spelling and subsequently have difficulty creating or
editing text or otherwise communicating in writing. Difficulties with
ATTENTION, ORGANIZATION, TIME MANAGEMENT, and PRIORITIZING TASKS are
also common.

Examples of TYPICAL ACCOMMODATIONS for students who have learning
disabilities include:
* Note takers, use of computers in class for note taking
* Audiotaped or videotaped class sessions
* Extended exam time and a quiet testing location
* Visual, aural, and tactile demonstrations incorporated into instruction
* Concise course and lecture outlines
* Books on tape
* Alternative evaluation methods (e.g., portfolio, oral or video
presentations)
* Use of electronic discussions via email or the Web
* Providing projects or detailed instructions on audiotapes or
print copies
* Reinforcing directions verbally
* Breaking large amounts of information or instructions into
smaller segments.

COMPUTERS can be adapted to assist students with learning
disabilities. A student with learning disabilities might find these
accommodations useful:

* Computers equipped with speech output, which highlights and reads
(via screen reading software and a speech synthesizer) text on the
computer screen.
* Word processing software that includes electronic spelling and
grammar checkers, software with highlighting capabilities, and word
prediction software.
* Software to enlarge screen images.

For MATH and SCIENCE classes, examples of SPECIFIC ACCOMMODATIONS that
are useful for students with learning disabilities include:

* The use of scratch paper to work out math problems during exams
* Talking calculators
* Fractional, decimal, and statistical scientific calculators
* Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) software for math
* Computer Assisted Design (CAD) software for engineering
* Large display screens for calculators and adding machines.

==========
SUMMARY

LEARNING DISABILITIES are documented disabilities that may affect
reading, processing information, remembering, calculating, and spatial
abilities. Some typical accommodations for students with learning
disabilities include:

* Note takers and/or audiotaped class sessions, captioned films Extra
* exam time, alternative testing, and/or assignment arrangements
* Visual, aural, and tactile instructional demonstrations
* Equipment with adaptive technology

When considering accommodations, remember that students with learning
disabilities generally have average to above average intelligence but
may have difficulties acquiring and demonstrating knowledge and
understanding. By working together, YOU, the STUDENT, and the DISABLED
STUDENT SERVICES STAFF help create an environment to lessen the
discrepancy between achievement and intellectual abilities, and
thereby encourage success in the student's academic endeavors.

==========
QUESTION FOR DISCUSSION

While reading the CONTENT, you considered ways in which YOUR SELECTED
COURSE might accommodate a student with a LEARNING DISABILITY.

Send an email message to the group, stating 2 or 3 accommodations you
might make in your selected course for a student with DYSLEXIA in
relation to your ASSIGNMENTS.

Your email SUBJECT line should read: Accommodations 8: LEARNING DISABILITIES.

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FURTHER INFORMATION

You can read answers to frequently asked questions, explore case
studies, or access additional resources at:
http://www.washington.edu/doit/Faculty/Strategies/Disability/LD/

==========
(c) 2001 DO-IT. Permission is granted to copy material in this email
for educational, non-commercial purposes provided the source is
acknowledged. Contact DO-IT at: 1-206-685-3648, or
doit@u.washington.edu