Disability Guide for Faculty

Students registered with Student Accessibility Services (SAS) have a wide-range of disabilities, with varying degrees of impact on their academic pursuits. Although the academic impact of a disability is unique to that specific individual student, the following guide is designed to help faculty be informed about the classifications, possible accommodations, considerations, and instructional strategies associated with some disabilities.

Please note that accommodations for students with disabilities are not intended to alter the course curriculum nor lessen course requirements.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that affects a student’s executive functioning. ADHD affects many students by presenting them with difficulties such as staying focused, paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors or being overly active. Common symptoms of ADHD may include, difficulty with focus and concentration, distractibility, impulsive or unplanned reactions to environmental stimuli, difficulty maintaining regular schedules, and procrastination.

Considerations and instructional strategies:
  • Include the approved disability accommodation statement in the course syllabus. Invite students to contact you if they need disability-related accommodations.
  • Provide clear and concise instructions.
  • Incorporate visual aids and multiple teaching methods including visual, auditory, and hands-on approaches.
  • Create an outline for each class session including important takeaways.
  • Allow for time for clarification of essential information and/or directions.
  • Break large amounts of information or instructions into smaller segments. Review previous lessons and summarize periodically.
  • Help students break down large assignments into smaller, more manageable parts.
  • Allow for a short break during long class sessions.
  • When in doubt about how best to assist your student, ask them. Remember that confidentiality is important; therefore, it is best to have the conversation in private (e.g. during your office hours).
Accommodations may include, but are not limited to:
  • Testing accommodations: extended time, reduced distraction testing environment
  • Priority seating
  • A written supplement to oral instructions, assignments, due dates, and other directions
  • Permission to use tape-recorders and/or laptop computers for note-taking
  • Note-taking assistance
Resources:
Autism Spectrum Disorder / Asperger's Syndrome

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Asperger’s syndrome are neurological disorders that are characterized by having difficulties in social communication and interaction, having a set interest in a particular area, and by repetitive behaviors and routines. Asperger’s syndrome is now considered a category under the ASD. The term spectrum refers to one's range of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment. Individuals with autism may have an average overall intelligence with increased skills or talents in a certain area.

Characteristics of individuals with ASD may include: difficulty initiating/maintaining social interactions and relationships, a sense of discomfort related to participating in activities or in the classroom, poor eye contact, repetitive behaviors, sensitivity to light(s), sound(s), touch, and/or scent(s), and increased interest in a particular area.

Considerations and instructional strategies:
  • Include the approved disability accommodation statement in the course syllabus. Invite students to contact you if they need disability-related accommodations.
  • Provide clear and concise instructions.
  • Provide an outline for each class session including important "take-aways".
  • Allow time for clarification of essential information and/or directions.
  • Incorporate visual aids and multiple teaching methods.
  • Break large amounts of information or instructions into smaller segments. Review previous lessons and summarize periodically.
  • When in doubt about how best to assist your student, ask them. Remember that confidentiality is important; therefore, it is best to have the conversation in private (e.g. during your office hours).
Accommodations may include, but are not limited to:
  • Priority seating
  • A written supplement to oral instructions, assignments, due dates and other directions
  • Note-taking assistance
  • Permission to use tape recorders and/or laptop computers for note-taking
  • Test accommodations may include: extended time and a reduced-distraction testing environment
Resources:
Deaf / Hard of Hearing

A hearing impairment is a hearing loss that inhibits an individual from completely receiving auditory stimuli. Hearing impairments can range from mild (hard of hearing) to severe (deaf). Individuals with a hearing impairment may use a variety of communication methods including: hearing aids, cochlear implants, lip reading, American Sign Language (ASL), captions, assistive devices, or a transcription service.

Considerations and instructional strategies:
  • Include the approved disability accommodation statement in the course syllabus. Invite students to contact you if they need disability-related accommodations.
  • Some students may read your lips while you are speaking. Make sure to face the students in your class when speaking.
  • Repeat questions and statements from other students. If possible, provide important class information in a written format (e.g. handout, email, post to BlackBoard Learn, etc.).
  • Incorporate visual aids into your lectures, including captioned versions of videos and films.
  • If the student utilizes an interpreter, be sure to allow adequate sightlines for the student allowing them to see you, the interpreter, and the board.
  • When speaking to a student that utilizes an interpreter, direct the conversation to the student (not the interpreter). Speak in natural tones and use your normal rate of speech.
  • Recognize the length of time it takes the interpreter to translate between your spoken message and its interpretation into sign language. The student may need more time to receive information, ask questions, and/or offer comments.
  • If you are working with a student who may also have a speech impairment, take time to understand the student. Let the student know if you don't understand and ask for clarification.
  • When in doubt about how best to assist your student, ask them. Remember that confidentiality is important; therefore, it is best to have the conversation in private (e.g. during your office hours).
Accommodations may include, but are not limited to:
  • Priority seating that will allow for clear sightlines to the instructor, the interpreter, and the board. Remember to face your class when speaking.
  • A written supplement to oral instructions, assignments, due dates and other directions
  • Note-taking assistance
  • Providing handouts or PowerPoints in advance
  • Test accommodations may include: use of an interpreter for directions, use of a word processor, and extended time
  • Interpreters or Real-Time Transcribers to provide real-time communication access during class
  • Closed-captioned versions of videos and film
Resources:
Learning Disabilities

Individuals with learning disabilities often have average to above average intelligence but may struggle to acquire and understand knowledge in speaking, listening, writing, reasoning or mathematical skills. This discrepancy between the specific area of learning achievement and the student’s actual intellectual ability generally signifies the presence of a learning disability. Depending on the individual, the severity of a learning disability can vary from mild to severe.

Main types of Learning Disabilities:
  • Dyslexia/Reading Disorder: Dyslexia affects how a person processes language, often making reading, writing, and grammar difficult. The individual may use words or letters in reverse order when reading, may struggle reading information from left to right, and may also have difficulty comprehending all that they read.
  • Dysgraphia/Written Expression Disorder: Dysgraphia affects an individual’s writing abilities. The individual may have poor handwriting, difficulty spelling, and trouble putting thoughts and ideas on paper.
  • Dyscalculia/Math Disability: Dyscalculia affects an individual’s abilities in mathematics. The individual may struggle with counting numbers, understanding symbols, and learning new concepts.
  • Auditory Processing Disorder (APD): Auditory processing disorder affects the way in which the brain processes incoming sounds, but this is not due to a hearing impairment. Individuals may struggle to understand information that is presented orally. They may hear a combination of sounds if they are not facing the person speaking, or have difficulty discriminating sounds and the meaning of those sounds.
  • Visual Processing Disorder: Visual processing disorder affects an individual’s ability to interpret visual information. The individual may struggle with reading comprehension, deciphering between two similar objects, and may take longer to read text.
Considerations and instructional strategies:
  • Include the approved disability accommodation statement in the course syllabus. Invite students to contact you if they need disability-related accommodations.
  • Provide clear and concise instructions.
  • Provide an outline for each class session including important "take-aways".
  • Allow for time for clarification of essential information and/or directions.
  • Incorporate visual aids and multiple teaching methods including visual, auditory, and hands-on approaches.
  • Break large amounts of information or instructions into smaller segments. Review pervious lessons and summarize periodically.
  • Allow the use of spell-check and grammar assistance devices when appropriate.
  • When in doubt about how best to assist your student, ask them. Remember that confidentiality is important; therefore, it is best to have the conversation in private (e.g. during your office hours).
Accommodations may include, but are not limited to:
  • A written supplement to oral instructions, assignments, due dates and other directions
  • Note-taking assistance
  • Providing handouts or PowerPoints in advance
  • Test accommodations may include: extended time, reader and/or scribe, use of a word-processor for grammar and spelling concerns, and/or use of a simple calculator
  • Permission to use tape recorders and/or laptop computers for note-taking
  • Course textbook and other materials provided in an alternative format for use with a screen reader
Resources:
Mobility Impairments

A mobility impairment can include a range of physical disabilities that affect an individual’s mobility and/or range of mobility. These conditions can include, but are not limited to: cerebral palsy, amputation, paralysis, arthritis, back disorders, neuromuscular disorders, or a spinal cord injury. These impairments can be permanent or temporary. Common mobility aids may include: a wheelchair, an industrial scooter, a walker, or a cane.

Considerations and instructional strategies:
  • Include the approved disability accommodation statement in the course syllabus. Invite students to contact you if they need disability-related accommodations.
  • Consult with SAS if your class involves lab work, field trips, and/or requires students to access off-campus work sites.
  • Contact SAS if you have concerns about the physical design and/or layout of your classroom.
  • Make sure the aisles of your classroom are free from obstructions.
  • Provide a short break during long class sessions.
  • Attempt to converse at eye level when speaking with a student that uses a wheelchair or scooter.
  • If you are working with a student that also has a speech impairment, take time to understand the student. Let the student know if you don't understand and ask for clarification.
  • When in doubt about how best to assist your student, ask them. Remember that confidentiality is important; therefore, it is best to have the conversation in private (e.g. during your office hours).
Accommodations may include, but are not limited to:
  • Testing accommodations: extended time, reduced distraction testing environment, scribe assistance, and use of a computer
  • Priority seating and/or furniture modification (e.g. adjustable height table)
  • Note-taking assistance and copies of lecture slides
  • Lab assistant
  • Extended deadlines for lengthy assignments
  • Assistive computer technology (e.g. Dragon Naturally Speaking)
Resources:
Psychological Disabilities

According to the Mayo Clinic, a psychological disability “refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior.” Some common types of psychological disabilities include: Clinical Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Eating Disorders, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Anxiety Disorders.

Considerations and instructional strategies:
  • Include the approved disability accommodation statement in the course syllabus. Invite students to contact you if they need disability-related accommodations.
  • Create an outline for each class session including important "take-aways".
  • Allow for a short break during long class sessions.
  • Provide clear and concise instructions.
  • Allow for flexible deadlines as the course permits.
  • Recognize that the symptoms a student experiences may vary in intensity and length each day.
  • Understand that the student's motivation, mood, alertness, and/or participation may be impacted.
  • When in doubt about how best to assist your student, ask them. Remember that confidentiality is important so it is best to have the conversation in private (e.g. during your office hours).
Accommodations may include, but are not limited to:
  • Testing accommodations: extended time and access to a reduced distraction testing environment
  • Priority seating
  • Permission to use tape-recorders and/or laptop computers for note-taking
  • Flexible attendance requirements and assignment deadlines, as permitted by the course
Resources:
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is an injury to the brain that may be caused by events such as loss of oxygen to the brain, stroke, infection, or a significant blow to the head/body resulting in the movement of the brain within the skull. The type of TBI can vary depending on the location, severity, and duration of the impact on the brain.

At least 5.3 million Americans, 2% of the U.S. population, currently live with disabilities resulting from TBI, according to the Brain Trauma Foundation. Depending on the extent and location of the injury, symptoms caused by a brain injury can vary widely, and may include: difficulty with recall and short-term memory, loss of balance and coordination, difficulty with speech, blurred vision, and decreased organizational and reasoning skills.

Considerations and instructional strategies:
  • Include the approved disability accommodation statement in the course syllabus. Invite students to contact you if they need disability-related accommodations.
  • Be mindful that some students may need more to acquire and/or master content. Allow additional time for lengthy and detailed course assignments, if needed and as permitted by the course.
  • Provide clear and concise instructions.
  • Incorporate visual aids and multiple teaching methods including visual, auditory, and hands-on approaches.
  • Break large amounts of information or instructions into smaller segments. Review previous lessons and summarize periodically.
  • Allow for short breaks during long class sessions.
  • Provide an outline for each class session including important takeaways.
  • Allow for time for clarification of essential information and/or directions.
  • If you are working with a student who may have a speech impairment, take the time to understand the student. Let the student know if you don't understand and ask for clarification.
  • When in doubt about how best to assist your student, ask them. Remember that confidentiality is important; therefore, it is best to have the conversation in private (e.g. during your office hours).
Accommodations may include, but are not limited to:
  • Note-taking assistance
  • Testing accommodations: extended time, reduced distraction testing environment; reader or scribe assistance
  • Priority seating
  • Written supplement to oral instructions, assignments, due dates, and other directions
  • Permission to use tape recorders and/or laptop computers for note-taking
  • Alternative format materials (e.g. enlarged text, electronic text for use with a screen reader)

 

Visual Impairment / Blindness

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), there are two categories of visual impairments that an individual may have: Low Vision and Blindness. The CDC and WHO defines low vision as a visual acuity of 20/70-20/400 and blindness as a visual acuity of worse than 20/400.

Low Vision: An individual who has low vision may struggle with ordinary everyday tasks such as: reading, writing, shopping, or driving a car. Their vision is unable to be corrected with prescription eyewear. Individuals use a combination of vision and other senses (e.g. sound, smell, or touch) to learn. Individuals identified as having low vision may benefit from different lighting or larger print in the classroom.

Blindness: An individual who is identified as being "totally blind" is typically unable to tell light from dark and is unable to see at all. Individuals who are "legally blind" have less than 20/200 vision in their more functional eye or a very limited field of vision. These individuals may use Braille or other types of non-visual media. 

Considerations and instructional strategies:
  • Include the approved disability accommodation statement in the course syllabus. Invite students to contact you if they need disability-related accommodations.
  • Consult with SAS if your class involves lab work, field trips, and/or requires students to access off-campus work sites.
  • If the student uses a guide dog, it should not be petted or distracted while in harness and working as this could place the student in serious danger.
  • Provide a description of visual content.
  • Give clear, detailed instructions (e.g. bottom left corner).
  • Allow for priority seating.
  • Allow students to audio record class lectures.
  • When in doubt about how best to assist your student, ask them. Remember that confidentiality is important; therefore, it is best to have the conversation in private (e.g. during your office hours).
Accommodations may include, but are not limited to:
  • Testing accommodations: electronic exam materials for use with a screen reader and/or screen magnification software
  • Tactile imaging of graphic materials
  • Course materials provided in an electronic format for use with screen readers and/or screen magnification software
  • Note-taking assistance
  • Brailled materials (if the student is proficient in Braille)
  • Permission to use tape-recorders, laptop computers and/or a BrailleNote for note-taking
Resources: