Supporting Students with Disabilities

Approximately 10% of students on campus currently report a documented disability that requires a classroom accommodation. However, we know that there are students who also have undiagnosed disabilities or students who have chosen not to disclose their disability. As a result, it is appropriate to use Universal Design whenever possible to increase access for all students. Many things used for accommodations, for example, captioning of films, can help students with slightly weak hearing or who have attention issues. Many students benefit from hearing material as well as reading it, so having your PDF articles scanned as Office of Civil Rights (OCR) compliant formats will allow any student to have them read out loud by software. 

When access is incorporated into the classroom, on campus or online, the overall need for accommodations can be reduced. Educational Technology has extensive resources available to help instructors implement universal design practices that create course materials which meet the needs of all students to the greatest extent possible without the need for adaptation or accommodation. Instructors using universal design increases usability, engagement, and access to content for everyone. 

It is important to note that classroom accommodations do not give some students an unfair advantage over other students. Students who have a learning, physical, or psychological disability are jumping hurdles each day that other students walk around. Accommodations simply level the playing field, so the student has full access to lectures, books and to sharing what they have learned. We call this “access.” We do not accommodate for “success,” so the student’s level of success is still up to them, just as it is with any other student.