Lesson 13: Conclusion

Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
Distance Learning Course
SUBJECT: Accommodations 13: CONCLUSION

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PURPOSE

The purpose of this lesson is to summarize briefly the main points presented in this course, and to gain awareness of the changes you have considered making to your existing course selected at the beginning of the course.

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Questions to REFLECT upon while reading the CONTENT

1. What have you learned from this course?

2. Have you learned strategies for making your course more accessible to students with disabilities?

3. Are you familiar with resources available to assist you in accommodating students with disabilities in your courses?

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CONTENT

The law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities and mandates the provision of reasonable accommodations to ensure access to programs and services. Accommodating students with disabilities in higher education is a shared responsibility. The best accommodations 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. Accommodations can be simple, creative alternatives to traditional ways of doing things.

In post-secondary settings, students are the best source of information regarding their special needs. They are responsible for disclosing their disabilities and requesting accommodations. You (the faculty) and the disabled student services office should always remember that disability-related information is confidential and is not to be disclosed without permission from the student.

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.

UNIVERSAL DESIGN
Employing universal design principles when initially designing a course using instructional strategies for inclusiveness, physical access, delivery methods, web pages, interaction, feedback, and demonstration of knowledge creates an accessible environment, minimizing the need to alter it later for individuals with special needs.

HEARING IMPAIRMENTS
The term "hearing impairment" refers to functional hearing loss that ranges from mild to profound. This hearing loss makes it difficult or impossible to hear lecturers, access multi-media materials, and participate in discussions. Writing assignments may also present a challenge. A student who is using an interpreter, who is lip reading, or who is reading real-time captioning will have difficulty looking at another resource at the same time. There are also ways you can adjust your speaking style and the pace of the classroom to make information more accessible to a student with a hearing impairment.

Examples of GENERAL ACCOMMODATIONS are:
* Interpreters
* Assistive Listening Devices (ALD's), sound amplification systems
* Note takers
* Preferential seating for optimal listening or lip reading
* Real-time captioning
* Electronic mail for faculty-student meetings and class discussions, and as an alternative to teleconferencing
* Visual warning systems for lab emergencies
* Changing computer auditory signals to flashes or contrast changes.

VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS
Students with LOW VISION have some usable vision. Those with BLINDNESS are unable to read printed text, even when enlarged.

Typical accommodations for LOW VISION include:
* Seating near front of class
* Audiotaped class sessions
* Verbal descriptions of visual aids and graphics
* Large print handouts, lab signs, and equipment labels
* TV monitor connected to microscope to enlarge images
* Class assignments made available in electronic format
* Computer equipped to enlarge screen characters and images

Typical accommodations for BLINDNESS include:
* Audiotaped, Brailled, or electronic-formatted lecture notes, handouts, and texts
* Verbal descriptions of visual aids and graphics
* Raised-line drawings and tactile models of graphic materials
* Braille lab signs and equipment labels, auditory lab warning signals
* Adaptive lab equipment (e.g., talking thermometers and calculators, light probes, and tactile timers)
* Computer with optical character reader, speech output, Braille screen display and printer output

Consult the disabled student services office on your campus to coordinate production of materials using BRAILLE, AUDIOTAPE, TACTILE MODELS, and RAISED-LINE DRAWINGS.

MOBILITY IMPAIRMENTS
Mobility impairments may make walking, sitting, bending, carrying, or using fingers, hands, or arms difficult or impossible. Mobility impairments may be permanent or temporary, resulting from many causes, including amputation, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, and Cerebral Palsy.

General accommodations for students with mobility impairments include:
* Note taker, lab assistant, group lab assignments
* Classrooms, labs, and field trips in accessible locations
* Adjustable tables, lab equipment located within reach
* Class assignments made available in electronic format
* Computer equipped with special input device (e.g., voice input, Morse code, alternative keyboard)

HEALTH IMPAIRMENTS
Health impairments affect daily living and can have a temporary or chronic impact on a student's academic performance.

Typical accommodations for students who have health impairments include:
* Note takers and note taking services
* Audio or video taped class sessions
* Flexible attendance requirements
* Extended exam time or alternative testing arrangements
* Assignments available in electronic format
* The use of electronic mail for faculty-student meetings and discussion groups for class discussions
* Web page or electronic mail distribution of course materials and lecture notes
* An environment which minimizes fatigue and injury
* An ergonomic workstation and adaptive technology
* Computer-based instruction, distance learning

LEARNING DISABILITIES
Learning disabilities are documented disabilities that may affect reading, processing information, remembering, calculating, and spatial abilities. Students with learning disabilities 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.

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

PSYCHIATRIC DISABILITIES
The broad range of psychiatric or mental health impairments and the "invisible" nature of the disabilities complicate making accommodations for students with various psychiatric or mental health conditions. They may have difficulty attending class regularly; they may fatigue easily or have difficulty taking notes. Medication side effects may impact endurance, memory, and attention. Students may have particular problems receiving, processing, and recalling information during times of stress.

TECHNOLOGY IMPLICATIONS
In order to help your students, it is important for you to be aware of the many computer access issues facing students with disabilities and the hardware and software solutions for providing access to computers and electronic resources. Incorporating universal design principles into a new course during the initial planning reduces the need for accommodations later. In addressing COMPUTER ACCESS ISSUES, the disabled student services office can also help coordinate with computing services staff.

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SUMMARY

This course has presented examples of accommodations for a variety of situations involving students with disabilities. The Faculty Room Web site (URL: http://www.washington.edu/doit/Faculty/) provides a comprehensive resource for further study and future reference.

By reflecting on YOUR own course while reading the CONTENT in each lesson, you were guided to consider possible modifications to your course. By considering and discussing your own course, the courses of other participants, and the ACCESS ISSUES in case study readings, you were encouraged to develop an awareness of additional strategies and accommodations. Incorporating some of these strategies into a new course based on universal design principles reduces the need for accommodations later.

When accommodations are needed, the best accommodations are unique to the individual student and result from the coordinated efforts of you, the student, and the disabled student services staff. You now have additional resources to assist you in developing accommodations that can be simple, creative alternatives to traditional ways of doing things. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or problems. Also consider keeping in touch with other participants in this group. One of the benefits of this course is developing a network of people with whom to share our questions and our knowledge.

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TOPIC FOR DISCUSSION

In your email to the group, state one thing that you have learned in this course that will help you make your selected course more accessible to students with disabilities.

Your email SUBJECT line should read: Accommodations 13: CONCLUSION.

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FURTHER INFORMATION

For additional information consult The Faculty Room Web site: http://www.washington.edu/doit/Faculty

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