Marika and Mathematics: A Case Study on Accommodations for Visual Impairments
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.
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.
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.
This case study illustrates the following:
- Low-tech accommodations like enlarged print materials can be easily provided by the instructor or the disabled student services office.
- Simple, straightforward accommodations such as front-row seating options, note taking, and testing accommodations are effective for many students with low vision.
- 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.
- 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.