As each individual is unique, the following information is intended as a guide only, to help familiarize faculty and staff with some of the characteristics, and inherent challenges, associated with the most prevalent disabilities on campus. Suggestions for appropriate academic accommodations are also included for each disability category.
A Learning Disability (LD) is a permanent disorder which affects the manner in which individuals with average or above average intelligence take in, retain, and express information. Students with learning disabilities demonstrate a “significant discrepancy” between aptitude (intellectual functioning) and achievement in one or more of the following areas: oral expression, listening comprehension, written expression, basic reading skills, reading comprehension, mathematics calculation, or mathematical reasoning. This discrepancy cannot be primarily attributed to vision, hearing or motor impairments; mental retardation; emotional disabilities; environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage; or a history of an inconsistent education.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD) is a neurological disorder that is characterized by distractibility, impulsivity and restlessness. These symptoms are present from childhood on, and with a much greater intensity than in the average person, so that they interfere with everyday functioning.
Students who have LD and ADD/ADHD may benefit from: exam accommodations, recorded lectures, tutoring, study skills instruction, books in audio format, time extensions on assignments, and/or alternative ways of completing coursework.
The term deaf is defined as a condition in which perceivable sounds (including speech) have no meaning for ordinary life purposes.
The term Hard-of-Hearing (HOH) is defined as a condition where the sense of hearing is impaired, but functional for ordinary life purposes (usually with the help of a hearing aid).
For students who are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing (DHOH) and who choose to speak, feedback mechanisms are limited, therefore their vocal control, volume, and articulation may be affected. These secondary effects are physical and should not be viewed as mental or intellectual weaknesses. Indications that a student has a hearing loss may include a student’s straining to hear, use of loud or distorted speech, difficulty with phone conversations, and consistent failure to respond.
Common accommodations made for students who have hearing loss may include: Sign Language interpreters, assistive listening devices, use of electronic communication (example: Email), signaling devices, priority registration, note-takers, tutoring, preferred classroom seating arrangements, and captioned videos and media.
Students with psychological or mental health disorders have experienced significant emotional difficulty that generally has required treatment in a hospital setting and/or as an outpatient. With appropriate interventions, often combining medications, psychotherapy, and support, the majority of psychological/mental health disorders are cured or controlled. Below are some brief descriptions of some more common psychiatric-related disorders:
Common accommodations for students who have psychological or mental health disorders may include: exam modifications, alternative ways to complete assignments, taped lectures, and study skills/management training.
A Traumatic Brain Injury can occur when there is an injury to the brain as a result of an outside force, such as a closed head injury, trauma or a missile penetrating the brain, or by internal events such as a tumor, stroke, etc. There is great variability in the effects of head injury on different individuals, but most injuries result in some degree of temporary or permanent impairment with three major brain functions: physical, cognitive and behavioral.
The following are some of the areas that may be impacted by the injury:
Common reasonable accommodations for students with TBI will generally be similar to those provided for LD/ADD students. Assistive Technology may also be recommended.
Note: Although some students may have total blindness, only 2% of all individuals with vision impairments are totally blind. The majority of individuals have some residual vision. Common reasonable accommodations for students with vision loss may include: alternative print materials, magnification devices, adaptive computer equipment or software (AT), readers for exams, priority registration, recorded lectures, and raised line drawings.
The term orthopedic impairment refers to a broad range of disabilities. Students who have these impairments must often use devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, canes, braces and artificial limbs to facilitate mobility. The impairment may be either congenital or a result of an injury or disease. Some of the most frequently seen examples of this type of disability include:
In addition to the above mentioned conditions, some students may also have temporary orthopedic/physical disabilities such as a broken leg, sprained ankle, etc. Common accommodations for students with orthopedic impairments may include: priority registration, note taker, accessible classroom location and furniture, alternative ways to complete assignments, student aides, scribes, assistive computer technology, exam modifications, access to elevators and conveniently located parking.
Some other impairments, such as neurological or medical conditions may be observable or hidden. These disabilities can impact students by significantly impairing their energy level, memory, mobility, speech and vision or muscular coordination. Examples of health impairments may include:
Reasonable accommodations for these students will vary greatly. Some will require individually tailored accommodations while others will use accommodations similar to those students who have other disabilities. Accommodations for students who have health impairments will generally be similar to the accommodations given to students who have orthopedic impairments.
The diagnostic criteria and characteristics for each specific autism spectrum disorder is very detailed and specific. The term Autism Spectrum, however, generally refers to a range of disorders which include Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, and PDD-NOS. These are neurological, pervasive developmental disorders that impair communication, cognitive, and social skills. Students with an autism spectrum disorder typically have problems communicating with others and engaging in peer interactions. They may also have heightened sensitivity to stimuli and follow repetitive routines.
Students with autism are often referred to as “high functioning,” as they are many times very intelligent, capable and proficient in knowledge of facts. Students may struggle with Language comprehension, Social Interaction, Organizational Skills, Distractibility, and Resistance to change. As such, the following could be helpful accommodations for these students:
Phone: (815) 921-2371
Fax: (815) 921-2379