Caryn and Visual Arts: A Case Study in Accommodating a Learning Disability

Date Updated


My name is Caryn. I am an 18-year-old freshman entering a small private university. I am studying the visual arts and eventually plan to attend graduate school for a masters in fine arts.

Access Issues

Although I'm an art major, I have to take two English courses and four semesters of a second language that are required by the university. I have a language-learning disability which makes it difficult for me to understand and organize large amounts of verbal information. Writing was my most challenging academic area in high school. I was worried that I would not be able to keep up with the course workloads and failing a course my first semester was not an option.


Initially, I did not want to disclose my learning disability. However, I was very worried about these course requirements, especially since it was my first semester of college. I contacted my advisor in the art department and mentioned my concerns. After an appointment with the disabled student services counselor where I presented documentation of my disability, we decided on the following. I was able to substitute the foreign language course requirement for two courses in the social sciences. I also learned about the freshman writing lab. I set up a series of weekly private appointments with a writing tutor to review my English coursework. I borrowed a computer from the disabled student services department equipped with a speech-to-text option to use during the academic year. With this assistive technology, I could speak into the computer and my speech is translated into text. Without this accommodation, my thoughts and writing could become disorganized or jumbled.


This case study illustrates that assistance from the campus disabled student services department can help a student with a disability:

  1. Obtain program adjustments to meet university coursework requirements.
  2. Gain access to accessible electronic and information technology to accommodate her disability.
  3. Make use of campus services available to all students.