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Strategies for Working with

Students with Disabilities

Sandi Patton
North Harris Montgomery Community College District
District Director of Disability Services
July 30, 2007
Workshop Objectives
Upon completion of training, participants will have greater
understanding of:
• Legal Requirements
• Universal Design
• Overview of Types of Disabilities
• Basic Strategies and Resources
• Specific Disabilities and Tips
• Rights and Responsibilities
Legal Considerations

• Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of
• Americans with Disabilities Act
• Section 508

• Provides free and appropriate public

education in the least restrictive
• “Entitlement”
Section 504
of Rehabilitation Act of 1973

"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
discrimination under any program or
activity of a public entity."
Section 508
Rehabilitation Act of 1973

• Section 508 establishes requirement that federal

government, and by extension through the
Assistive Technology Act of 1998 , state
government also, procure information
technology that is accessible.
• A revised version of Section 508 was approved
in August, 1998 which makes strong
recommendations for web accessibility
• Only covers federal agencies or state agencies
that receive Tech Act funding
Americans with Disabilities Act

Extends coverage of Section 504 to

employment, public and private
educational institutions, transportation
providers, telecommunication, regardless
of presence of any federal funding.
Universal Design

"The design of products and environments to

be usable by all people, without the need for
adaptation or specialized design ."
Learn About Learning Styles

• Teaching Visual Learners

• Teaching Auditory Learners
• Teaching Kinesthetic Learners
• Applying Learning Styles Strategies for
Students with Learning Disabilities
• Multi-Sensory Approaches
Strategies to Help ALL Students

Remember that strategies that help

students with disabilities typically benefit
ALL of the students in your class!
Organization and Technology Pave the Way

• Everyone benefits from outlines, copies of

• Technology can remove the barrier for
some types of learning disabilities:
– Optical Character Recognition with Voice Output
– Voice Activation
– E-text and Electronic Access
– Digital Tape Recorders
Treat Each Student as an Individual

• Invite Disclosure
• Remember that Each Student is Unique
• Talk Privately with Each Student about
Individual Needs
• Discuss with the Student How to Best
Accommodate Needs and How
Accommodations will be Implemented
Build Your Support Team
• YOU know the essential requirements
of the course
• The STUDENT knows his/her
limitations, based upon disability
• Your DSO COUNSELOR knows the
accommodations needed for access
• RESOURCES, both at the college and
in the community, can provide
supplemental support
Working with Disability Services Office
at your Campus

Your college’s Disability Services Office will

determine what accommodations are
appropriate for the students with
disabilities who are in your class and can
assist you with implementation strategies.
Other Resources

• Assistive Technology Lab

• Learning Center
• Assessment Center
• Community Resources
• Websites
Tips for Success
• Learning Differences (including LD and ADHD)
• Blindness and Low Vision
• Deafness and Hard of Hearing
• Psychiatric Disabilities
• Mobility Disabilities
• Other Orthopedic Disabilities
 CP, MD, MS, amputees, arthritis, etc.
• Chronic Health Disabilities
Typical Accommodations for Students
with Disabilities:
There are NO Typical Accommodations
“Case-by-Case Basis”
Examples of Possible Accommodations:
• Extended Time for Testing
• Exams in Assessment Center
• Use of E-text for Textbooks and Exams
• Notes, Copy of Overheads, Tape Recorder
• Use of Technology for Reading or Writing
• Use of Calculator, Color Coding
What is a Learning Disability ?

A learning disability is a disorder of one

or more cognitive processes and may
impact a student’s ability to process
reading, produce writing, and/or
comprehend math. Additionally,
executive functioning may be impacted.
Tips for Working with
Students with Learning Disabilities

• Incorporate elements of Universal Design into

• Plan ahead. Students with reading disabilities may
need materials in an alternate format. Prepare
syllabus, handouts, exams ahead of time.
• When possible, always use textbooks that have
electronic texts available if needed.
• Use multi-sensory approach in class.
• Provide outlines of lectures.
• Present lecture material in a sequential,
logical manner (as appropriate).
• Invite students with disabilities to privately
meet with you to discuss any special needs.
• Respect the confidentiality and dignity of
each student.
Tips for Working with
Students who are Blind
• Discuss impact of vision loss with student
• Organization and early planning are key
• Work closely with college resources to provide
alternate formatting for print text, selecting when
possible texts that publishers can provide in
alternate format
• Use descriptive language
• Encourage the use of assistive technology
• Printed materials on computer disk, and/or on a
Web page, and e-mail
Special Tools and Techniques for Working
with Students who are Blind
•Audiotaped, Braille, or electronic notes, handouts,
and texts
•Raised-line drawings and tactile models
•Braille signage and auditory warning signals
•Adaptive/assistive equipment ( talking thermometers
and calculators; tactile timers), Optical Character
Recognition, speech output, Braille printer and
refreshable Braille
•Increased time on tests, alternate formatting,
Tips for Working with
Students with Low Vision
• Impact of residual vision
• Seating near front of class; good lighting
• Large print books, handouts, signs, and equipment
• CCTVs (including microscope magnification)
• Assignments in electronic format
• Software to enlarge screen images
• Software to adjust screen colors
• Extended time for testing
• Tests broken into segments
• Magnification devices
• In-class assistant
• Note taker, tape recorder
• ETests
Tips for Working with
Students who are Deaf
• Age of onset
• Sensory neural, conductive, mixed
• Oral vs. Sign
• American Sign Language
• Deaf Culture
• Interpreter
• Captioning
CART, Cprint, TypeWell
• Captioned videos
• Visual warning systems
• Identify speakers in the room and repeat what is
• Note taking
• Face class when speaking
• Avoid backlights
• Speak directly to student
Tips for Working with
Students who are Hard of Hearing
• May use assistive listening devices
• Lip reading myths
• Types of accommodations
• Isolation
• Repeat as needed
• Face students
• Use visual aids
• Copy of overheads
Tips for Working with
Students with Psychiatric Disabilities

• All students must abide by student code of

• Myths surrounding students with
psychiatric disabilities
• Safe haven
• Emergency protocols
Accommodations that may be Helpful

• Extended time for testing

• Exams in Assessment Center (separate
• Note taker, tape recorder
• May need to be excused from public
speaking, if appropriate
• May need to leave room
• May need to bring water to class
• Medication may slow/alter thinking
Tips for Working with
Students with Mobility Disabilities

• Architectural barriers may be encountered

• May use mobility assistance (wheelchair,
power chair, crutches
• Furniture may need adjusting to provide
• If there are limited barriers, students may
require minimal accommodations
• Respect personal space, including chair
• Sit, kneel if talking for extended time
• Offer assistance, don’t force it
• Report architectural barriers
• Don’t presume disability = handicap
• If disability impacts hands/arms also,
additional accommodations may be needed
Tips for Working with
Students with Orthopedic Disabilities

• Needs vary greatly depending on students

individual disability
• May or may not be visible
• May impact student’s ability to write, walk,
• May result in episodes of excessive pain
• Medication may result in altered patterns
of thinking and/or behavior
• Be aware that needs may vary, depending
on flare-ups
• For hands/arms: extended time for tests
Extended time for tests
Note taker/tape recorder
Adaptive writing devices
Assistive technology
• For legs/back/feet
May need adjustable furniture
May not tolerate extended sitting
Tips for Working with
Students with Chronic Health Disabilities

• Attendance issues may need addressing

• Distance education and independent learning can
be option
• Health and disability challenges may fluctuate
• Discuss individual needs with student
• Be cognizant of accommodations that may be
needed during flare-ups
• Consider options for make-up work, independent
work, attendance considerations, and incompletes
as appropriate
Rights and Responsibilities:

Right to:
• Be evaluated based on ability, not disability
• An equal opportunity to learn and to participate in and benefit
from the academic community
• Appeal decisions concerning accommodations

Responsibility to:
• Self-Identify
• Provide documentation of disability
• Meet and maintain the institution’s academic and technical
standards and Code of Conduct
Rights and Responsibilities:
Right to:
• Require ALL students to meet and maintain the institution’s
academic and technical standards
• Teach in an environment supportive of learning and free of
Responsibility to:
• Comply with all aspects of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and
ADA (as apply to higher education}
• Refer students with disabilities who self-identify to DSO
• Implement reasonable accommodations that are prescribed by
the DSO
• Maintain confidentiality when working with students with
• Treat every student with dignity and respect
Rights and Responsibilities:
Disability Services Office
Right to:
• Require documentation of disability and need prior to making
• Require ALL students to meet and maintain the institution’s
academic and technical standards
• Work in an environment supportive of learning and free of
Responsibility to:
• Comply with all aspects of Rehab Act of 1973 and the ADA,
as apply to higher education.
• Maintain confidential records for students with disabilities
• Protect and maintain confidentiality
• Prescribe/support reasonable accommodations for students
with disabilities