Marika and Mathematics: A Case Study on Accommodations for Visual Impairments

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Background

My name is Marika and I'm a math major in college. I'm visually impaired. I can read large print but have trouble seeing the content on a computer screen, especially when the lighting is poor. For the most part, I am able to read large-print text without any problems.

Access Issues

I need large-print materials for all my courses. I also need access to a computer with enlarged images, a large screen, and reduced glare. In some classes, especially math classes, I sometimes have difficulty seeing blackboard or overhead notes written by the instructor even when I have front-row seating. In math classes, it's especially important for me to get accurate information about what the professor is writing on the board or overhead projector system. Sometimes when I can't see the overhead as the professor is lecturing, writing examples on the whiteboard, or using PowerPoint™, I do not understand all the information being presented.

Solution

The disabled student services office began to make large-print copies of my math and other course textbooks as soon as I purchased them from the bookstore. Also, when instructors gave handouts, the disabled student services office would make large-print copies for me. I talked to all my instructors, and they agreed to send my exams in advance to disabled student services so that the exams could be enlarged. I was then able to take my exams with extended time in the disabled student services office. If an exam was in multiple-choice format with a Scantron answer sheet to complete, an assistant in the office would fill in my answers after I completed the exam because I couldn't see adequately to complete it.

I arrived at class early to be sure that I could sit in the front row to better see the board or overhead. The disabled student services counselor arranged for a note taker, who went to most math classes with me; the note taker sat next to me with oversized paper to write, in large print, any information presented on the board or overhead. In this way I could look over the information as it was being presented and discussed in the class. I also talked with instructors who used any PowerPoint™ presentations and requested that the text be given to me electronically (preferably before class) so that I could use my computer to enlarge the text for me to read.

Conclusion

This case study illustrates the following:

  1. Low-tech accommodations like enlarged print materials can be easily provided by the instructor or the disabled student services office.
  2. Simple, straightforward accommodations such as front-row seating options, note taking, and testing accommodations are effective for many students with low vision.
  3. Students with visual impairments need to access simultaneously or very quickly information presented in classes so that they can learn and participate like other students in the class.
  4. As required under the ADA and Section 504, these accommodations are timely and effective, with priority consideration given to the communication preferences of the student.

Last update or review: January 23, 2013