4 General Information About Supporting Students With Disabilities

It is true that all individuals are impacted differently. This individual impact of a disability/diagnosis is essential in supporting students, whether that be through providing appropriate accommodations, creating accessible materials, or assisting them in navigating their academics. Therefore, it is always best to communicate with the individual impacted and learn from them about what they may need; while still recognizing that their needs may change. With this said, there is still some helpful information when working with students who have the added responsibility of a specific diagnosis.

Blind/Visually Impaired

Cognitive Differences

Deaf/Hard of Hearing

Chronic Illness

Blind/Visually Impaired

Impact on Student

  • Blindness or loss of vision means that an individual may or may not recognize light (day vs. night).
  • Visual Impairment can mean that the individual has some vision, but may need enlarged print or have color blindness.

Strategies for Faculty

  • Describe visual content.
  • Make sure course materials are accessible (See section on Digital Accessibility).
  • Verbalize information written on board or shown on a projector.
  • Recognize that students using technology may need extra time to complete in-class assignments.

Assistive Technology Devices Available

  • (e.g., JAWS¬†(windows), NVDA (Free for windows) and VoiceOver (Mac)).
  • .
  • Talking Assistive Devices (calculator).
  • Screen Magnification Software (e.g., Zoomtext).
  • Screen Magnification Devices (CCTV).
  • Applications:
    • Seeing AI – a free app that narrates the world around you. Seeing AI is available on iOS through the App Store. This app can assist individuals in reading barcodes, reading documents aloud, and reading currency with the use of the device’s camera.
    • Be My Eyes – A free app that connects blind or low vision individuals with sighted volunteers for visual assistance through a video call. App is available on iOS and Android platforms.

Cognitive Differences

Includes learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, autism spectrum disorder, acquired brain injury, and psychological impairments.

Impact on Student

  • May have oral/language/processing differences/delays.
  • May require more time to complete activities or answer questions in class.
  • May struggle with peer interactions and group work.

Strategies for Faculty

  • Make slides and class materials available to students prior to the intended lecture.
  • Chunk and divide content into small sections so it is easier for your students to absorb and requires less scrolling for easier content navigation.
  • Provide clearly written assignments and instructions on your syllabus.
  • Consider providing alternative ways to complete some assignments (e.g., video/PowerPoint vs. paper/presentation).

Assistive Technology Devices Available

  • Organizational software (e.g., Read & Write offered campus-wide).
  • Visual Mapping Software (e.g., Inspiration).
  • Applications that allow students to break down assignments, manage time, keep track of grades, etc.

Deaf/Hard of Hearing

Impact on Student

  • Deaf: Unable to hear, or may utilize a device to help bypass damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve.
  • Hearing Impaired/Hard of Hearing: Individuals have some hearing ability and may utilize devices to assist with hearing.

Strategies for Faculty

  • Repeat questions or comments from classmates or audience.
  • Face class or audience while speaking.
  • Include closed captions for videos and transcripts for audio-only (Refer to the section on Digital Accessibility for more information).

Assistive Technology Devices/Services Available

  • American Sign Language Interpreters.
  • CART/Typewell Service (real-time transcription service by third party).
  • Assistive Listening Devices (FM Systems, external microphone systems.
  • Recording Devices.
  • Applications:
    • Otter.ai – A free application that transcribes spoken voice into text. This app can record audio and translate into¬†typed text so a student who is deaf/hard of hearing can read the transcript of spoken word in real-time.
    • Ava.me – A free application that transcribes spoken voice into text. Users must be logged into app and join a group to use.

Chronic Illness

Impact on Student

  • A long term illness that may be managed but not corrected by treatment.
  • Health needs/abilities can change daily without notice.

Strategies for Faculty

  • Have plans for completion of work for students who cannot meet the original timeline in a syllabus.
  • Be flexible with requirements and offer alternate ways of communication.
  • Work with the Office of Disability Resources on the best ways to support individual students.

Assistive Technology Devices Available

  • Assistive technology that monitors students’ health (i.e., monitors, pumps, watches, smart devices/phones).
  • Applications (on phone) that help manage medication and information for medical professionals.

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Access for All Copyright © 2020 by Alison Grimes and Danielle Smith. All Rights Reserved.

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