Case #5


My name is Imke and I am blind. As a first-year graduate student in atmospheric sciences, I was required to enroll in a quarter-long credit/no credit synoptic meteorology lab. Most of the lab time was spent plotting meteorological data and drawing contours on weather maps. The goal was to learn about the development and structure of mid-latitude weather systems.

Access Issue

I needed to find a way to participate in the class and learn the necessary material without having to draw and contour weather maps.


  1. Discuss potential solutions to the access issue described. There can be more than one good solution.
  2. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each proposed solution.
  3. Clarify the appropriate roles of the student, instructor, and campus support services in reaching a decision and providing accommodations if needed.
  4. After you have completed your discussion, read the access solution on the back of this handout was employed in this scenario. Compare your proposed solutions with the solution used. Discuss the conclusions listed and add at least one more.


I was unsure of the best way to participate in the class, so I approached the instructor of the course, who happened to be my Ph.D. advisor, and asked if he had any suggestions. It appeared that he had already thought about this issue. He immediately proposed that instead of attending the weekly classes, I visit his office once a week at a time convenient to both of us, so that he could explain the relevant concepts to me. I also received the instructor's class notes in an accessible format from the university's disabled student services office. This arrangement worked well. I was able to gain an understanding of mid-latitude weather systems without participating in the map drawing activities that were central to the course.


This situation illustrates that:

  1. it is not always necessary for a student who is blind to directly access the visual material of a course
  2. in cases where it is impractical for the student to participate in a visually-oriented activity, it is often possible for the student to learn the accompanying concepts in another way
  3. it is important for the student to take responsibility to approach the course instructor to plan workable accommodations