While all students will have different preferences for learning, students with physical or learning disabilities have different actual needs as well. Students with physical disabilities such as visual impairments, hearing impairments, or temporary or permanent motor impairments may need guide dogs, interpreter, note-takers, wheelchair-accessible rooms, or other types of assistance to help them attend and participate in class. Students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, or neurological impairments may require extra time or a separate room for exams, tutoring, or other assistance that allows them to process information. Accommodations should not result in a lowering of standards for your class; they insure that students have equal access to course materials so that they can learn and perform to the best of their intellectual ability.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 protect students with disabilities from discrimination, and grant them reasonable accommodations in order to participate fully in the programs and services of the University. Students with disabilities at CWRU have met the same high entrance requirements as all admitted students; they simply need reasonable accommodations to be able to participate in the life of the university. Faculty members are responsible for providing these reasonable accommodations in the lab or classroom.
Educational Support Services (ESS) is the department that oversees services for students with disabilities. Students requesting accommodations need to submit documentation to ESS so that their eligibility for special services can be determined. After reviewing the documentation and interviewing the student, the ESS Coordinator of Disability Services determines the accommodations for which the student is eligible. Upon the student's request, a faculty member will be notified that the student has been found eligible for particular accommodations. The student and the faculty member will then establish methods for implementing the specified accommodations. ESS also assists faculty in providing these reasonable accommodations to students in their classes.
ESS may be able to administer tests and examinations for students with disabilities who require extended time or secluded space accommodations. ESS can also assist students in obtaining auxiliary aids that they need.
ESS houses the Sight Enhancement Center, which offers students with visual impairments and learning disabilities a broad array of adaptive equipment that enables them to access print information, Internet materials, and CWRUnet software. Students with disabilities may avail themselves of individual tutors, individual academic counseling, and self-advocacy training from the ESS professional staff.
Always keep in mind that though usual course requirements and/or evaluation methods might require some modification for students with disabilities, all students are expected to demonstrate their mastery of the subject through completion of the assignments and examinations. You may wish to consult with the ESS Coordinator of Disability Services to ensure that your methods of teaching and evaluating are fair and non-discriminatory.
If you suspect a student in your class has a disability but has not disclosed it, contact the Coordinator of Disability Services for advice on how or whether to speak to the student.
If you have a student with a disability in your classes, the following advice will be helpful.
Because not all disabilities are apparent to the onlooker, you may not know immediately if students in your class have disabilities. It is up to the student to disclose the existence of a disability and to obtain the documentation that allows students to arrange accommodations. Nonetheless, you can establish a welcoming environment that encourages students to disclose their status to you. It is recommended that you include the following text in your course syllabus:
During the semester I am [or, the instructor is] prepared to meet individually [by appointment] with any and all students enrolled in this course. I would like especially to meet with students with disabilities who are registered with the Coordinator of Disability Services (368-5230) and who may need individual arrangements.
Chapter Four: Midterms and Semester's End
Chapter Six: Special Needs of First-Year and International Students
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