Flexibility and effective communication between student and instructor is key in approaching accommodations. Although students with similar disabilities may require different accommodations, it is helpful to be aware of typical strategies for working with students who have various types of impairments.
Learning disabilities are documented disabilities that may affect reading, processing information, remembering, calculating, and spatial abilities. Examples of accommodations for students who have specific learning disabilities may include:
- Notetakers and/or audiotaped class sessions, captioned films
- Extra exam time, alternative testing arrangements
- Visual and tactile instructional demonstrations
- Computer with voice output, spellchecker, and grammar checker
Mobility impairments may make walking, sitting, bending, carrying, or using fingers, hands, or arms difficult or impossible. Mobility impairments result from many causes, including amputation, polio, club foot, scoliosis, spinal cord injury, and cerebral palsy.
Typical accommodations for students with mobility impairments may include:
- Notetaker, lab assistant, group lab assignments
- Classrooms, labs, and field trips in accessible locations
- Adjustable tables, lab equipment located within reach
- Class assignments made available in electronic format
- A computer equipped with a special input device (e.g., voice input, Morse code, alternative keyboard)
Health impairments affect daily living and involve the lungs, kidneys, heart, muscles, liver, intestines, immune systems, and other body parts (e.g., cancer, kidney failure, AIDS). Typical accommodations for students who have health impairments may include:
- Notetaker or copy of another student’s notes
- Flexible attendance requirements and extra exam time
- Assignments made available in electronic format, use of email to facilitate communication
Mental illness includes mental health and psychiatric disorders that affect daily living. Examples of accommodations for students with these conditions include:
- Notetaker, copy of another student’s notes, or recording of lectures
- Extended time on assignments and tests
- A non-distracting, quiet setting for assignments and tests
Hearing impairments make it difficult or impossible to hear lecturers, access multimedia materials, and participate in discussions. Examples of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing may include:
- Interpreter, real-time captioning, FM system, notetaker
- Open or closed-captioned films, use of visual aids
- Written assignments, lab instructions, demonstration summaries
- Visual warning systems for lab emergencies
- Use of electronic mail for class and private discussions
Blindness refers to the disability of students who cannot read printed text, even when enlarged. Typical accommodations may include:
- Audiotaped, Brail or electronic-formatted lecture notes, handouts, and texts
- Verbal descriptions of visual aids
- Raised-line drawings and tactile models of graphic materials
- Braille lab signs and equipment labels, auditory lab warning signals
- Adaptive lab equipment (e.g., talking thermometers and calculators, light probes, and tactile timers)
- Computer with optical character readers, voice output, Braille screen display, and printer output
Low vision refers to students who have some usable vision, but cannot read standard- size text, have field deficits (for example, cannot see peripherally or centrally but can see well in other ranges), or other visual impairments. Typical accommodations may include:
- Seating near the front of the class.
- Large-print handouts, lab signs, and equipment labels.
- TV monitors connected to a microscope to enlarge images.
- Class assignments made available in electronic format.
- A computer equipped to enlarge screen characters and images.