In one academic year, 707,000 students with reported disabilities enrolled in 2-year and 4-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions. The types of disabilities they reported were:
Source: Students With Disabilities at Degree-Granting Postsecondary Institutions (NCES 2011-018), U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2011
|Specific learning disabilities||31%|
|ADD or ADHD||18%|
|Mental illness/psychological or psychiatric condition||15%|
|Health impairment/condition, including chronic conditions||11%|
|Mobility limitation/orthopedic impairment||7%|
|Cognitive difficulties or intellectual disability||3%|
|Traumatic brain injury||2%|
|Autism Spectrum Disorders||2%|
|Difficulty speaking or language impairment||1%|
A disability may or may not affect the participation of a student in your class. In postsecondary settings, students are the best source of information regarding their special needs but they are responsible for disclosing their disabilities and requesting accommodations. To create a welcome environment, include a statement in your class syllabus inviting students who require accommodations to meet with you. For example, "If you have a documented disability and wish to discuss academic accommodations, please contact me as soon as possible."Also refer students to the campus disability services office.
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 faculty to be aware of typical strategies for working with students who have various types of impairments and who will be engaging in various types of activities. With this basic knowledge you will be better prepared to ask students to clarify their needs and to discuss accommodation requests.
Examples of accommodations can be found in the following two sections of this website, first organized by activity and second organized by disability type.