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    Americans with Disabilities Act
    MTSU ADA Compliance Office

Working Together: Faculty & Students with Disabilities

Graduation image Working with Students with Disabilities

The following articles offer information on working with students with specific disabilities.

Teaching Students with Attention Deficit
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Teaching Students with Visual Disabilities
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Teaching Students with Hearing Disabilities
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Teaching Students with Emotional / Social Disabilities
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Teaching Students with Physical Disabilities
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Teaching Students with Other Disabilities
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Documents are available in Microsoft Word [doc] or Adobe Reader [pdf] formats. Adobe Reader is available at www.abobe.com.

Legal Issues

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibit discriminations against individuals with disabilities.

According to these laws, no otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall, solely by reason of his/her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discriminations under any program or activity of a public entity.

"Qualified" with respect to postsecondary educational services, means "a person who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the education program or activity, with or without reasonable modifications to rules, policies or practices; the removal of architectural communication or transportation barriers; or the provision of auxiliary aids and services".

"Person with a disability" means "any person who 1) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities [including walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working], 2) has a record of such and impairment, or 3) is regarded as having such an impairment."

Disabilities covered by legislation include (but are not limited to) AIDS, Cancer, Cerebral Palsy, Diabetes, Epilepsy, head injuries, hearing impairments, specific learning disabilities, loss of limbs, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, psychiatric disorders, speech impairments, spinal cord injuries, and visual impairment.

Working Together: Faculty and Students

Faculty members are encouraged to be responsive to the pedagogical needs of all students. However, students with disabilities may have some additional educational needs, which they should discuss with each faculty member. It is good to think about the broad range of abilities, disabilities, and other characteristics of potential students as you design your curriculum. This approach is called the universal design or instruction (see the DO-IT project).

Include a statement on the class syllabus inviting students who have disabilities to discuss academic needs. An example of such a statement is "If you have a documented disability and wish to discuss academic accommodations, please contact me as soon as possible."

The student with a disability is the best source of information regarding necessary accommodations. In postsecondary settings it is the student's responsibility to request special accommodation if desired, but a faculty member can make a student comfortable by inquiring about special needs.

Useful Teaching Techniques

Below you will find examples of teaching techniques in the classroom, laboratory, examinations, and fieldwork that benefit all students, but are especially useful for students who have disabilities.

Classroom

  • Select course materials early so that students and the campus Disabled Student Services office have enough time to translate them to audiotape, Braille, and large print.
  • Provide students with chapter outlines or study guides that cue them to key points in their readings.
  • Make syllabi, short assignment sheets, and reading lists available in electronic format (e.g., disk, electronic mail, WWW).
  • Face the class when speaking. Repeat discussion questions.
  • Write key phrases and lecture outlines on the board or overhead projector.
  • In dealing with abstract concepts, paraphrase them in specific terms, and illustrate them with concrete examples, personal experience, hands-on models and such visual tools as charts and graphs.

 

Laboratory

  • Take the student on a tour of the lab and equipment he/she will be working in. Discuss safety concerns to minimize student anxiety.
  • Assign group lab projects in which all students contribute according to their abilities.
  • Arrange lab equipment so that it is easily accessible.
  • Label equipment, tools, and materials.
  • Give oral and written lab instructions. Make available to a student cue cards or labels designating the steps of a procedure to expedite the mastering of a sequence.
  • Use specialized adaptive equipment to help with exact measurements of lab materials.

 

Examination and Fieldwork

  • Assure that exams test the essential skills or knowledge needed for the course of field of study.
  • Some students will require extra time to transcribe of process test questions; follow campus policies regarding extra time on examinations.
  • Avoid overly complicated language in exam questions, and clearly separate them in their spacing on the exam sheet. For a student with perceptual deficits, for whom transferring answers is especially difficult, avoid using answer sheets, especially computer forms.
  • Try not to test on material just presented, since students with learning disabilities generally require more time to assimilate new knowledge.
  • Consider allowing students to turn in exams via electronic mail or diskette.
  • Ask student how he/she might be able to do specific aspects of fieldwork. Attempt to include the students in fieldwork opportunities, rather than automatically suggesting non-field work alternatives.
  • Include special needs in requests for field trip vehicle reservations.