Faculty Specific Resources

Teaching Students with Disabilities

This resource has been created to assist and support faculty and administrators who have students with disabilities in their courses. The information below is true for most students, but as in all things, there are exceptions.

A disability may or may not affect the participation of a student in your class. In College, students are the best source of information regarding their needs. Your students are responsible for explaining their needs and requesting accommodations. However, you will receive an accommodation memo from the office of Denise Schell, Disability Support Services Counselor in the Disability Support Services office. By law, we are not allowed to disclose the type of disability a student may have. We are only allowed to reveal the accommodations he/she is eligible for.

Each student with a disability has unique needs. Having these needs met can mean the difference between succeeding and failing. Making your students feel welcome will help them approach you about their need for accommodations. Also including in your course syllabus an invitation to meet with you to discuss what you both will need and can expect from each other for the semester would be helpful.

Instructors’ and Students’ Rights and Responsibilities

Instructors and students both have rights and responsibilities. In the case of the inclusion of students with disabilities in postsecondary activities, faculty members have the right to require that students demonstrate knowledge and skills essential to the course content. Qualified students with disabilities have the right to reasonable accommodations.

Why Accommodate and the Legal Issues?

Students with disabilities are entitled to a college education and can only achieve this by having equal access to it. Some people ask, “Why should a student with a disability/disabilities get special treatment?” First of all, in order for a student with a disability/disabilities to succeed, he/she needs to have the same learning opportunities available to them as the students without. In other words, we must “level the playing field.” The second reason is because it’s the law.

Legal Issues

In 1990 the “Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990” and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 passed a law prohibiting discrimination against anyone with disabilities.

What is the law?

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is the civil rights guarantee for persons with disabilities in the United States. It provides protection from discrimination for individuals on the basis of disability. For more information about the ADA Law, visit the United States Department of of Labor.

Types of Disabilities and Accommodations

Learning Disabilities are documented disabilities that may affect your student’s remembering, reading, calculating, processing information, and/or spatial abilities. Other disabilities may also be present such as sensory and mobility impairments.

Students may not have trouble communicating his/her thoughts verbally one on one. However, this same student may not be able to communicate these same thoughts in writing or in a noisy classroom. Other students may take longer processing reading and written assignments and tests because the words, letters, and/or numbers become backwards or mixed up. Students with learning disabilities tend to have problems with prioritizing tasks, organization, paying attention and time management.

Students with specific learning disabilities usually have average to above average intelligence but may have difficulties acquiring and demonstrating knowledge and understanding. Because of the student’s disability, he/she generally has significant discrepancies in what he/she has achieved compared to what he/she is capable of achieving.

Each student with a Learning Disability/Disabilities has unique needs. Having these needs met can mean the difference between succeeding and failing.