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Disability Resource Center

Building 44, Rm A-39
phone 202.274.6417 | fax 202.274.5375 | phone 202.274.5579 (tty)

Office Hours
Mon - Friday
8:30am to 5:00pm
 

About Disabilities

This section presents an overview of common disability types, including descriptive information, strategies for students, suggested resources, and commonly recommended accommodations.

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, and Deaf-Blind
Learning Disabilities
Mobility Impairments
Psychiatric Disabilities
Systemic Disabilities
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Visual Impairments

 


 

 

 

About Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)


Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is a persistent pattern of inattention or hyperactivity/impulsivity manifested in academic, employment, or social situations. In academic and employment settings, ADD may be demonstrated by careless mistakes and disorganized work. Individuals often have difficulty concentrating on and completing tasks, frequently shifting from one uncompleted activity to another. In social situations, inattention may be apparent by frequent shifts in conversation, poor listening comprehension, and not following the details or rules of games and other activities. Symptoms of hyperactivity may take the form of restlessness and difficulty with quiet activities. ADD arises during childhood and is attributed neither to gross neurological, sensory, language, or motor impairment nor to mental retardation or severe emotional disturbance.

Selected resources for students with ADD

Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (ChADD)
8181 Professional Place, Suite 201
Landover, MD 20785
Telephone: 800-233-4050
Web: http://www.chadd.org
Information, advocacy, and support groups.

National Attention Deficit Disorder Association
P.O. Box 1303
Northbrook, IL 60065
Web: http://www.add.org
Information and referrals.

Brain SPECT
Web: http://www.brainplace.com
Information and resources.

Suggested reading

• Amen, D. G. 2001. Healing ADD: The Breakthrough Program That Allows You to See and Heal the Six Types of ADD. New York: G. P. Putnam.
• Hallowell, E. M. and J. J. Ratey. 1994. Answers to Distraction. New York: Bantam Books.
• Hallowell, E. M. and J. J. Ratey. 1994. Driven to Distraction. New York: Bantam Books.
• Hallowell, E. M. and J. J. Ratey. 2005. Delivered from Distraction. New York: Ballantine Books.
• Solden, S. 1995. Women with attention deficit disorder. Grass Valley, CA: Underwood Books.



Accommodations commonly used by students with ADD

The following list includes examples of accommodations that are commonly used by students with ADD. Not all students with ADD are eligible to receive all of following listed accommodations, nor are they limited to those listed when receiving accommodations. Eligibility for receiving any kind of accommodation depends upon factors specific to the nature of the student's disability and the nature of the course in which the accommodations are to be used.
• Taped lectures
• Extensions on papers/projects on a case-by-case basis (as negotiated with the faculty member)
• Extended time (exams)
• Distraction free room (exams)
• Note taker / scribe
 

(c) 2006 University of Minnesota, Adapted with permission.

 

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About Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, and Deaf-Blind Individuals

Approximately six to eight percent of the American population has some type of hearing loss that affects their ability to hear speech or environmental sounds. A person who is deaf has a hearing loss of such severity that he or she depends primarily upon visual communication such as sign language, lip-reading (also called speech-reading), writing or gestures. A person who is Hard-of-Hearing has a functional hearing loss, but may not depend primarily on visual communication.

The causes and degrees of hearing loss vary across the deaf and Hard-of-Hearing community, as do methods of communication. There are two major types of hearing loss:

 

1. Conductive loss affects the sound-conducting paths of the outer and middle ear. The degree of loss can be accommodated through the use of a hearing aid or by surgery, but can rarely be corrected completely. People with conductive loss might speak softly, hear better in noisy surroundings than people with normal hearing, and might experience ringing in their ears or difficulties with balance and dizziness.
2. Sensorineural loss affects the inner ear and the auditory nerve and can range from mild to profound. Hearing aids, surgery, and other devices may not be as effective in accommodating this type of hearing loss. People with sensorineural loss might speak loudly, experience greater high-frequency loss, have difficulty distinguishing consonant sounds, and be unable to hear well in noisy environments.

 

The inability to hear does not affect an individual's native intelligence or the physical ability to produce sounds. However, given the close relationship between oral language and hearing, persons with hearing loss might also have speech impairments. Age at the time of the loss determines whether an individual is prelingually deaf (hearing loss before oral language acquisition) or adventitiously deaf (normal hearing during language acquisition). Those born deaf or who become deaf as very young children might have more limited speech development.

Modes of Communication

Not all deaf individuals are fluent users of all communication modes used across the deaf community — just as users of spoken language are not fluent in all oral languages. Some deaf individuals are skilled lip-readers, but many are not. Many speech sounds have identical mouth movements, which can make lip-reading particularly difficult. For example, "p," "b," and "m" look exactly alike on the lips, and many sounds such as vowels are produced without using clearly differentiated lip movements.

Many deaf individuals use sign language, but there are several types of sign language systems:

 

• American Sign Language (ASL) is a natural, visual language having its own syntax and grammatical structure which closely resembles French.
• Pidgin Sign English (PSE), also known as "Contact Signing," combines aspects of ASL and English and is used in educational situations.

 

People who use ASL often identify as culturally Deaf (with a capital "D") to indicate that ASL (not a spoken language) is their first language and they identify as members of the Deaf community, with its own cultural norms, art, history, humor, etc. These individuals may also have difficulty with reading and writing English, because it is not their native language. Their grammar and literacy will be that of a student learning English as a second language.

Selected resources for Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, and Deaf-Blind Students

Association for Late-Deafened Adults
Telephone: 877-907-1738 (V)
Web: http://www.alda.org

Communication Services for the Deaf
Telephone: 651-297-6700 (V/TTY)
Web: http://www.c-s-d.org

National Association of the Deaf
Telephone: 301-587-1788 (V), 301-587-1789 (TTY)
Web: http://www.nad.org


Postsecondary Education Programs Network (national)
Midwest Center for Postsecondary Outreach (regional)
Telephone: 651-846-1601 (V), 651-846-1602 (TTY)
Web: http://www.pepnet.org (national)
http://www.mcpo.org (regional)

Registry of Sign Language Interpreters for the Deaf
Telephone: 703-838-0030 (V), 703-838-0459 (TTY)
Web: http://www.rid.org

TTY Relay Service
Telephone: 711 or 800-627-3529 (both V/TTY)

Video Relay Service
Communication Services for the Deaf
Telephone: 866-410-5787 (hearing callers)
Web: http://www.csdvrs.com (deaf or hard-of-hearing callers)


Strategies for communicating with students who are Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, and Deaf-Blind

Make sure you have a deaf student's attention before speaking. A light touch on the shoulder, a small wave, or other visual signal will help.

Look directly at a person with a hearing loss during a conversation, even when a Sign Language Interpreter is present.

Speak clearly, at normal speed or slightly slower, without shouting or over-enunciating.

If you have problems being understood, rephrase your thoughts, try different words, and avoid English idioms (e.g. "That's a Pandora's box" or "Let's push the envelope on this"). Writing is also a good way to provide clarification.

Make sure that your face is clearly visible. Keep your hands away from your face and mouth while speaking. Try to make sure there is no light source (like a window) behind you. Back-lighting may cause shadows on your face and make it more difficult to see your face and non-verbal expressions which aid lip-reading.

Accommodations commonly used by students who are Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, and Deaf-Blind

The following list includes examples of accommodations that are commonly used by students who are Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, and Deaf-Blind. Not all students are eligible to receive all of following listed accommodations, nor are they limited to those listed when receiving accommodations. Eligibility for receiving any kind of accommodation depends upon factors specific to the nature of the student's disability and the nature of the course in which the accommodations are to be used.

 

• Sign language interpreters
• Captionist
• Note-takers
• Specific seating
• Assistive listening devices

 

 

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About Learning Disabilities

The term, "Learning Disabilities," is a broad term that refers to a wide variety of significant difficulties with information processing, as manifested by interference with the acquisition, organization, storage, retrieval,and/or expression of information. These information processing limitations are intrinsic to the individual and are presumed to be neurologically based.

The diagnosis of LD in an adult requires documentation of at least average intellectual functioning along with a deficit in one or more of the following areas:


• Auditory processing
• Visual processing
• Information processing speed
• Abstract and general reasoning
• Spoken and written language skills
• Reading skills
• Mathematical skills
• Spatial skills
• Motor skills
• Executive functioning (planning ability)
• Memory (long-term, short-term, visual, and auditory)
• Oral expression
• Listening comprehension

 

A learning disability may occur with, but cannot be primarily the result of, a visual, hearing, or motor impairment; mental impairment; emotional disorders; or environmental, cultural, economic influences, or a history of insufficient/inappropriate education programming). A person with a learning disability is likely to have a combination of factors that may interfere with achieving his or her full potential. Learning disabilities are lifelong conditions that, in some cases, affect many aspects of a person's life (e.g., school, work, daily routines, family life, and friendships). Some individuals may have a single learning problem that has little impact on other parts of their lives.


Selected resources for students with learning disabilities


National Center for Learning Disabilities
381 Park Avenue S., Suite 1401
New York, NY 10016
Telephone: 212-545-7510
Web: http://www.ld.org
Information, referral, and advocacy.


International Dyslexia Association
8600 LaSalle Road, Suite 383
Baltimore, MD 21286
Web: http://www.interdys.org
Information and training.


Nonverbal Learning Disorders Association
2446 Albany Avenue W.
Hartford, CT 06117
Telephone: 860-570-0217
Education, research, and advocacy.


Learning Disabilities Online
Web: http://www.ldonline.org
Information on learning disabilities.


Learning Disabilities Association of America
4156 Library Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15234
Telephone: 412-341-1515
Web: http://www.ldanatl.org
Information on learning disabilities.


Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic
Telephone: 800-221-4792
Web: http://www.rfbd.org
Provides taped and disc versions of books and reference materials for school and work use.


Accommodations commonly used by students with Learning Disabilities
The following list includes examples of accommodations that are commonly used by students with Learning Disabilities. Not all students are eligible to receive all of following listed accommodations, nor are they limited to those listed when receiving accommodations. Eligibility for receiving any kind of accommodation depends upon factors specific to the nature of the student's disability and the nature of the course in which the accommodations are to be used.


• Alternative exam formats
• Taped lectures
• Extensions on papers/projects on a case-by-case basis (as negotiated with the faculty member)
• Extended time (exams)
• Distraction free room (exams)
• Note taker / scribe
• Books on tape

(c) 2006 University of Minnesota, Adapted with permission.

 

 

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About Mobility Impairments


Mobility impairments refer to conditions that limit a person's coordination or ability to move. Some mobility impairments are caused by conditions present at birth while others are the result of illness or physical injury. Injuries cause different types of mobility impairments, depending on what area of the spine is affected.


• Quadriplegia, paralysis of the extremities and trunk, is caused by a neck injury. Individuals with quadriplegia have limited or no use of their arms and hands.
• Paraplegia, paralysis of the lower extremities and the lower trunk, is caused by an injury to the mid-back. Individuals have full movement of arms and hands.
• Other causes of mobility impairments are muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, amputation, arthritis, and back disorders. A variety of symptoms may be present, including muscle weakness, decreased flexibility, loss of balance, difficulty with dexterity and coordination, or limited ability to walk or climb stairs. Characteristics will vary from individual to individual.


Considerations when working with students with mobility impairments

When talking with an individual who uses a wheelchair, attempt to converse at eye level, as opposed to standing and looking down.

If an individual has a communication impairment, as well as a mobility impairment, take time to understand the person. Repeat what you understand, and when you don't understand, say so.

Ask before giving assistance, and wait for a response. Listen to any instructions the person may give; by virtue of experience, the person likely knows the safest and most efficient way to accomplish the task at hand.
Be considerate of the extra time it might take a disabled individual to speak or act. Allow the individual to set the pace walking or talking.

Wheelchairs are a source of freedom and mobility for people who cannot walk or have difficulty with movement or endurance, so phrases such as "wheelchair-bound" or "confined to a wheelchair" are not appropriate.

A mobility device (e.g. wheelchair) is part of a person's personal space, so do not lean on or touch the device without the user's permission. Do not push the person in the device unless asked to do so.

Helpful strategies for students with mobility impairments

Become familiar with campus resources. These include the Disability Resource Center, Parking and Transportation Services, medical services, the various academic tutoring labs, and more.

Set realistic goals, keeping in mind your priorities and all of your time commitments. Take a reasonable course load. Build upon your success.

Investigate and arrange for transportation to and from campus before the semester starts, as you are determining your class schedule. Plan realistically for the time it will take, and schedule your classes accordingly.
Schedule enough time to travel from class to class. Keep in mind how winter and bad weather will impact your travel.

Map out the best route to your classes. Do a trial run before the semester starts. Find accessible entrances and elevators, as needed.

Travel light on campus. For example, repack your backpack or tote each day so you don't carry unnecessary items, such as books you won't use that day. Consider photocopying only pages you will need for each day.

Meet with your disability specialist as early as possible each semester to prepare accommodation letters for your instructors. Deliver them promptly to your instructors, and use that opportunity to clarify questions that you or they may have.

Communicate with your instructors. Meet with them early and often to discuss any questions and concerns about the course.

Notify your disability specialist immediately to change the location of inaccessible classrooms.

Accommodations commonly used by students with Mobility Impairments

The following list includes examples of accommodations that are commonly used by students with Mobility Impairments. Not all students are eligible to receive all of following listed accommodations, nor are they limited to those listed when receiving accommodations. Eligibility for receiving any kind of accommodation depends upon factors specific to the nature of the student's disability and the nature of the course in which the accommodations are to be used.


• Extensions on papers/projects on a case-by-case basis (as negotiated with the faculty member)
• Additional absences beyond what might normally be allowed
• Wheelchair desk
• Extended time (exams)
• Distraction free room (exams)
• Note taker / scribe
• Lab or library assistants

 

(c) 2006 University of Minnesota, Adapted with permission.

 

 

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Psychiatric Disabilities


About Psychiatric Disabilities

Though invisible, a psychiatric condition may constitute a disability. The course of the condition is unique for each person and may result in the disruption of learning and career goals.

The National Institute of Mental Health reported in 2003 that one in five Americans has some form of mental illness that is diagnosable and treatable. Examples of psychiatric disabilities covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) include major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Conditions not covered include diagnoses such as gender disorders, compulsive gambling, kleptomania, and pyromania.

Determining when a psychiatric condition becomes a disability

The Americans With Disabilities Act provides guidance to determine when a psychiatric condition becomes a disability. The disability specialist working with you at the Disability Resource Center will review the documentation from an appropriately licensed professional that you provide to identify the following components: a clear statement describing your condition, including the DSM-IV diagnosis and a summary of present symptoms and prognosis. In addition, the specialist will seek to gain an understanding of how the condition may limit you in one or more life activities, along with an understanding of the impact of any medications you may take for the condition. Once the disability specialist receives this information, a determination will be made about the disability status of your condition.

Disclosure of a psychiatric disability may be difficult for you. You can be assured that all information provided to the Disability Resource Center is considered confidential. To ensure equal access to the University environment, students with psychiatric disabilities should be prepared to request the reasonable accommodations to which they are entitled.

Some general considerations regarding psychiatric disabilities

• Psychiatric disabilities affect people of any age, gender, income group, and intellectual level.
• Disruptive behavior is not an attribute of most people with psychiatric disabilities.
• Eighty to ninety percent of people with depression experience relief from symptoms through medication, therapy, or a combination of the two.
• Depression is a variable condition that may fluctuate during a person's lifetime.


Helpful strategies for students with psychiatric disabilities

  1. Prepare for the start of or return to school.

    Starting or returning to school can be exciting, challenging, and demanding, so it's important that you give yourself time to plan. These are some of the issues to consider.

    o Have you applied for financial aid, or do you have funding secured for school? It's important to apply as soon as you begin to think about attending school. Also, are you in default on any loans? Resolving funding questions early in the process will help your return go smoothly.

    o What academic barriers have you encountered in previous school experiences? Do you have an idea of what kinds of academic accommodations you may need?

    o Will you attend school full-time or part-time? There are options for attending school less than full-time, which you may wish to explore, particularly if you've been away from school for a while or your disability has been recently diagnosed.
     
  2. Build a support system

    Many students enjoy the large size and anonymity of a university campus, but its size can present challenges to finding support for dealing with school stressors. Here are some suggestions to help with the process.

    o Register with the Disability Resource Center. Our role is to ensure equal access to University programs and services for all students with disabilities who are qualified to attend the University. Your disability specialist can assist you in identifying and obtaining the accommodations to which you may be entitled. Your specialist will provide you with information on policies and procedures that affect you and give you referrals to both on- and off-campus resources.

    o Learn who your key University contacts are. For example, where will you get academic or financial aid advising?

    o Consider getting involved in one of the many campus clubs and organizations, sports, and student union activities. Your student handbook lists many of these groups.
     
  3. Plan how you will disclose your disability.

    Since you have an "invisible" disability, your instructor will have no idea that adjustments or accommodations are needed unless you tell her or him. It is important that this discussion take place early in the semester. It is difficult to make any arrangements or adjustments after a deadline or exam date has passed. You may find the process of requesting accommodations stressful, but preparation helps. Contact your disability specialist for assistance, for practice with how and when to disclose, and for letters to instructors that provide information about your needed accommodations without sharing your diagnosis.
     
  4. Consider what you need to manage your disability while in school.

    o Do you have a mental health support network? Typically, students find that an effective network of support includes a psychiatrist, counselor, or therapist, and possibly a support group. Are people in your support network aware that you're in school or planning to be? Have you discussed possible demands that this will place on you?

    o Some other questions to consider about disability management might be: Are you taking medication and, if so, are there any side effects? What is the likelihood of needing to change medications during a semester? What is your stamina like? Do you have time allocated to get the rest you need? Is concentration difficult for you? What strategies have you developed for compensating?
     
  5. Enhance your repertoire for coping by developing "life skills."

    Any student, disabled or not, benefits from skills in the following areas:
            o Stress, time, and money management
            o Keeping one's diet, exercise, and sleep patterns in balance
            o Academic and career planning

    Ask your disability specialist for ideas and resources to help you in developing these life skills.

 

Selected resources for students with psychiatric disabilities


Here is a partial list of the many resources in the community that may interest you.


UDC Counseling and Career Services Center
Web: http://www.udc.edu/ccdc


Internet Mental Health
Web: http://www.mentalhealth.com


National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
Web: http://www.nami.org


National Mental Health Association
Web: http://www.nmha.org


Accommodations commonly used by students with Psychiatric Disabilities


The following list includes examples of accommodations that are commonly used by students with Psychiatric Disabilities. Not all students are eligible to receive all of following listed accommodations, nor are they limited to those listed when receiving accommodations. Eligibility for receiving any kind of accommodation depends upon factors specific to the nature of the student's disability and the nature of the course in which the accommodations are to be used.


• Additional absences beyond what might normally be allowed
• Extended exam time
• Tape record lectures

(c) 2006 University of Minnesota, Adapted with permission.

 

 

 

 

 

About Systemic Disabilities

Systemic disabilities are conditions affecting one or more of the body's systems, including the respiratory, immunological, neurological, circulatory, or digestive systems. There are many kinds of systemic impairments, varying significantly in effects and symptoms. Individuals with systemic disabilities differ from those with other disabilities because systemic disabilities are often unstable. This causes a person's condition to vary; therefore, the need for and type of reasonable accommodations may change. Some examples of system disabilities including the following:

 

Diabetes mellitus causes a person to lose the ability to regulate blood sugar. People with diabetes often need to follow a strict diet and may require insulin injections. During a diabetic reaction, a person may experience confusion, sudden personality changes, or loss of consciousness. In extreme cases, diabetes can also cause vision loss, cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, stroke, or necessitate the amputation of limbs.
Epilepsy/Seizure disorder causes a person to experience a loss of consciousness. Episodes, or seizures, vary from short absence or "petit mal" seizures to the less common "grand mal." Seizures are frequently controlled by medications and usually are not emergency situations.
Epstein Barr virus/chronic fatigue syndrome is an autoimmune disorder which causes extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, and depression. Physical or emotional stress may aggravate the condition.
Lyme disease is a multisystemic condition which can cause paralysis, fatigue, fever, dermatitis, sleeping problems, memory dysfunction, cognitive difficulties, and depression.
Lupus erythematosis can cause inflammatory lesions, neurological problems, extreme fatigue, persistent flu-like symptoms, impaired cognitive ability, connective tissue dysfunction, and mobility impairments. Lupus most often affects young women.
Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) often results from prolonged exposure to chemicals. A person with MCS becomes increasingly sensitive to chemicals found in everyday environments. Reactions can be caused by cleaning products, pesticides, petroleum products, vehicle exhaust, tobacco smoke, room deodorizers, perfumes, and scented personal products. Though reactions vary, nausea, rashes, light-headedness, and respiratory distress are common to MCS.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive neurological condition with a variety of symptoms, such as loss of strength, numbness, vision impairments, tremors, and depression. The intensity of MS symptoms can vary greatly; one day a person might be extremely fatigued and the next day feel strong. Extreme temperatures can also adversely affect a person with MS.

 

 

Accommodations commonly used by students with Systemic Disabilities


The following list includes examples of accommodations that are commonly used by students with Systemic Disabilities. Not all students are eligible to receive all of following listed accommodations, nor are they limited to those listed when receiving accommodations. Eligibility for receiving any kind of accommodation depends upon factors specific to the nature of the student's disability and the nature of the course in which the accommodations are to be used.

 

• Extensions on papers/projects on a case-by-case basis (as negotiated with the faculty member)
• Additional absences beyond what might normally be allowed
• Extended time (exams)

(c) 2006 University of Minnesota, Adapted with permission.

 

 

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About Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)

Though not always visible and sometimes seemingly minor, brain injury is complex. It can cause physical, cognitive, social, and vocational changes that can affect an individual for a short period of time or permanently. Depending on the extent and location of the brain injury, symptoms can vary widely. Some common results are seizures, loss of balance or coordination, difficulty with speech, limited concentration, memory loss, and loss of organizational and reasoning skills.

 

A traditional intelligence test is not an accurate assessment of cognitive recovery after a brain injury and bears little relationship to the mental processes required for everyday functioning. For example, individuals with brain injuries might perform well on brief, structured, artificial tasks but have such significant deficits in learning, memory, and executive functions that they are unable to otherwise cope. In addition, recovery from a brain injury can be inconsistent. A person might take one step forward, two back, plateau, and then unexpectedly make a series of gains.

 

Helpful strategies for students with traumatic brain injuries

 

  1. Prepare early.

    Talk with your doctor and other appropriate professionals about your readiness to attend college courses. Set realistic goals, keeping in mind priorities and time commitments. Depending on the severity of the brain injury, it may be a good idea for you to try one or two classes, rather than attempting a full load, when you first return to school. Become familiar with campus resources and community agencies that may be of assistance to you. See the resources section below.
     
  2. Communicate. Keep in contact with faculty and Disability Resource Center (DRC) staff.

    Talk with your professors early in the term about the accommodations you will need, including how and where you will take exams. At that time, you can present a letter from your DRC specialist outlining suggested reasonable accommodations. Maintain communication with your DRC specialist so she or he can assist in arranging academic accommodations, when needed.
     
  3. Develop effective strategies for managing your time and coursework.

           o Keep materials for each class organized and in one place.
           o Keep one calendar of due dates and exams.
           o Keep a consistent and realistic schedule.
           o Plan to spend approximately two hours studying for every hour of in-class instruction.
           o Keep a record of grades for all assignments, quizzes, and exams.
           o Develop daily study routines.
           o Prepare in advance for each lecture so the material is somewhat familiar.
           o You may find it helpful to sit in the front row of class to maximize eye contact and reduce distractions.
           o Tape-record lectures and listen to the tapes soon after class to review material and to reorganize notes.
           o You may find it helpful to study for short blocks of time to go over class notes daily.
           o Schedule periodic reviews to prepare for exams.
           o Meet with professors, tutors, or others to discuss assignments, lectures, and exams. Ask them to critique written and other assignments and to review exam results.

 

Selected resource for students with traumatic brain injuries

Brain Injury Association of America
8201 Greensboro Drive, Suite 611
McLean, VA 22102
Telephone: (Family Help Line) 800-444-6443
E-mail: familyhelpline@biausa.org
Web: http://www.biausa.org
This group has national information and many useful links.
Accommodations commonly used by students with Traumatic Brain Injuries
The following list includes examples of accommodations that are commonly used by students with Traumatic Brain Injuries. Not all students are eligible to receive all of following listed accommodations, nor are they limited to those listed when receiving accommodations. Eligibility for receiving any kind of accommodation depends upon factors specific to the nature of the student's disability and the nature of the course in which the accommodations are to be used.

• Alternative print formats
• Taped lectures
• Extensions on papers/projects on a case-by-case basis (as negotiated with the faculty member)
• Extended time (exams)
• Distraction free room (exams)
• Note taker / scribe
• Books on tape

(c) 2006 University of Minnesota, Adapted with permission.

 

 

 

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Visual Impairments


About Visual Impairments


There are approximately 12 million blind and visually impaired people in the United States. Some blind people may not have any useable vision or their vision may be extremely limited (light, color or shadow perception only). Only two percent of people with vision impairments are totally blind; most blind people have some amount of usable vision. What they all have in common is a bilateral visual impairment that makes it more difficult to do major life activities and cannot be adequately corrected by medical or surgical intervention, therapy, conventional eyewear or contact lenses.


Blindness may be defined in several ways. A person is considered "Legally blind" if their best corrected visual acuity is 20/200 or less. This means that, at best, the person can see an object from a distance of 20 feet that a person with "normal" (20/20) vision can see from a distance of 200 feet. A person is also considered legally blind if their visual field - everything seen while looking straight ahead, including peripheral (side) and central (straight ahead) vision - is 20 degrees or less. The typical human visual field is 180 degrees. Some individuals, while not legally blind, may need some type of accommodation due to other eye conditions that prevent them from reading print for extended periods of time.


Considerations when working with students who have visual impairments


Some students with vision loss use canes or dog guides for mobility purposes; however, many navigate without them.


When talking with or greeting a person with a visual impairment, speak in a normal voice; most people with visual impairments are not Hard-of-Hearing.


When entering a room, identify yourself to the individual. Use the person's name when directing the conversation to him or her.


When giving directions, use terms such as "left," "right," "step up" or "step down." Give direction from the individual's perspective.


When guiding a person with a visual impairment, offer your arm and let the person take it; rather than pulling, pushing or otherwise trying to steer the individual.


Do not pet or otherwise distract a working dog guide.


Helpful strategies for students with visual impairments

 

  1. Prepare early. Whenever possible, plan your courses at least one term in advance. This will make it easier to arrange accommodations, such as alternate formats for textbooks and course handouts.
     
  2. Register with appropriate agencies and services. If you have not already done so, become a member of Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D). See the resources section below for contact information.
     
  3. Keep in contact with faculty and Disability Resource Center (DRC) staff. Before the term begins, or early in the term, talk with your professors about the accommodations you will need, including how and where you will take exams. At that time, you should present a letter from your DRC specialist that outlines your accommodations. Maintain communication with your DRC specialist so she or he can assist in arranging academic accommodations when needed.
     
  4. Get oriented to campus. Due to the size of the Van Ness campus, some students find it helpful to enlist the assistance of another individual to orient themselves. For more information, see the resources section below or talk to your DRC specialist.

 

 

Selected resources for students with visual impairments

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)

This service provides taped materials to a general audience, such as popular books, magazines, newspapers, etc. In addition, NLS loans equipment to people who are unable to access print for their use in playing specialized tapes produced by the major taping services. For information on NLS holdings, services, or equipment, contact the nearest area library.

Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D)

This service provides taped versions of books and reference materials for school or work use and has a huge library of available books. If books aren't already on tape, you may send them to RFB&D to be recorded. There is an initial fee to register but tapes are loaned free for up to one year. Contact RFB&D at 866-732-3585 or view their Web site at www.rfbd.org.

Accommodations commonly used by students with Visual Impairment

The following list includes examples of accommodations that are commonly used by students with Visual Impairment. Not all students are eligible to receive all of following listed accommodations, nor are they limited to those listed when receiving accommodations. Eligibility for receiving any kind of accommodation depends upon factors specific to the nature of the student's disability and the nature of the course in which the accommodations are to be used.
• Taped lectures
• Books on tape
• The student needs to discuss test taking procedures with their professors when they present their letter requesting accommodations. Usually, the student and their professor can work out a solution that works well for both of them. If, however, there is a problem, students can ask for the assistance of the Disability Resource center.

 

(c) 2006 University of Minnesota, Adapted with permission.

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