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Instructor Reference Guide

Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 Guidelines:

The purpose of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 states that no qualified student shall, on the basis of disability be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity which the university (or any other public facility) sponsors or operates. Benefits and services to individuals with disabilities must be in the most integrated setting appropriate to the person's needs and be equally as effective or equivalent to those provided by others.

Colleges and universities receiving federal financial assistance must not discriminate in the recruitment, admission, or treatment of students. Students with documented disabilities (this documentation is confidentially filed with the Office of Disability Services) may request modifications, accommodations, or auxiliary aids which will enable them to participate in and benefit from all postsecondary educational programs and activities.

Under the provisions of Section 504, universities and colleges may not:

  1. Limit the number of students with disabilities admitted.
  2. Make preadmission inquiries as to whether or not an applicant is disabled.
  3. Use admissions tests or criteria that inadequately measure the academic qualifications of disabled students because special provisions were not made for them.
  4. Exclude a qualified student with a disability from any course of study.
  5. Limit eligibility to a student with a disability for financial assistance or otherwise discriminate in administering scholarships, fellowships, internships, or assistantships on the basis of disability.
  6. Counsel a student with a disability toward a more restrictive career.
  7. Measure student achievement using modes that adversely discriminate against a student with a disability.
  8. Establish rules and policies that may adversely affect students with disabilities.

GENERAL STATEMENTS TO FACULTY

Louisiana Tech University and ADA Guidelines:

While this reference guide provides a series of suggested steps instructors may wish to implement in order to facilitate learning for students with disabilities who enroll in their classes, perhaps the most important advice would be for instructors to encourage students with disabilities to discuss their limitations during the initial days of classes. An instructor's request to confer with these particular students could be included on the syllabus provided on the first class meeting. A suggested statement for the syllabus is "Students needing testing accommodations or classroom accommodations based on a disability are encouraged to discuss the need with me as soon as possible." The student must submit documentation of the disability to the Office of Disability Services, Wyly Tower 319 or to Wyly Tower 1653 when requesting accommodations. Students will be provided with an accommodations memo for instructors each quarter. Faculty should make classroom accommodations in accordance with current notificatiion from the ODS. If there are questions concerning the determined accommodations, the intructor should contact the Office of Disability Services for clarification.

Performance objectives should be the same for all students with disabilities, although the manner in which those objectives are attained might be somewhat different.

Faculty should listen to the students as to what accommodations could be appropriate and then determine if the students' suggestions could be utilized.

Statements about testing or other evaluation activities in class should be overtly mentioned at the beginning of the quarter. Testing or other evaluation situations involving students who utilize scribes and/or readers may be conducted in several ways: (1) the instructor or other department member may administer and record the test; (2) the scribe/reader and student may complete the test together while being monitored by the instructor or other department member; or (3) the reader may read to the student with the student's responses to be recorded by the instructor or other department member.

STUDENTS WITH ORTHOPEDIC AND/OR MOBILITY IMPAIRMENTS

Some common disorders which occur in this category include cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, arthritis, and spinal cord injury (quadriplegia, paraplegia). Any of these impairments are manifested in various ranges of mobility loss, thus requiring a myriad of suggestions for assisting individuals with these disabilities:

Suggestions for Communicating with the Student:

  1. If the student is inclined, allow him to speak freely about his disability, promoting better integration for him as a member of the class.
  2. During an extended conversation with a person in a wheelchair, try to sit to achieve eye-to-eye contact.
  3. Do not demean or patronize a person in a wheelchair by communicating with his scribe rather than with him or by not allowing the person to speak for himself. Most people in wheelchairs will ask for help when they require it, most being pleasant and appreciative of your help.

Considerations in the Classroom:

  1. Some students need adaptive seating in class, especially in computer laboratories. Note that some computer labs are already accessible.
  2. Alternative testing ideas may range from modifying a testing format, placing on computer disk, to taping a journal or paper for those with mobility impairments.
  3. Consult with a student to ensure that the classroom layout is accessible and free of obstructions for wheelchair use.
  4. Find an alternative classroom setting if the existing location is inaccessible.
  5. Allow the disabled student ample time to consult with his aide or scribe so that the aide is familiar with classroom and testing procedures.

STUDENTS WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS

Since most of what university students assimilate is the printed medium, those who are visually impaired face a difficult challenge. And since there are varying degrees of impairment, instructors must be able to adapt their classes for information gathering, pertaining to these students.

Suggestions for Communicating with the Student:

  1. Identify both your entrance and your exit from the room. Also notify the student as to your identity when you initiate a conversation or lecture.
  2. Do not change the tone of your voice or your vocabulary when speaking to a blind student. Again, do not patronize him as though he were a child.
  3. If he asks you to guide him to his seat, offer him your elbow rather than grasping his. This offers him some control and a sense of attainment.
  4. Remember that non-verbal cues are often difficult or impossible for some students to observe. Perhaps verbally highlighting key points could be beneficial.

Considerations for the Classroom:

  1. Specialized equipment for visually impaired students is found on the 10th floor of Wyly Tower. A Kurzweil Reader, which reads aloud printed materials, an Arkenstone 486 computer with Visual Eyes (reading software), and ZoomText (screen enlarger) may be utilized for students for in- and out-of-class assignments. In addition, there are two pentium computers equipped with Window Eyes and JAWS screen reading software, Open Book Unbound software, large monitors, and scanning hardware and software. A computer lab staff member will assist the faculty or student with access to the equipment.
  2. Some students may secure a scribe or reader to aid in taking notes during lectures. Other choices by students might include tape recording lectures, taking braille notes, writing large print notes, utilizing a lap top computer or securing notes from other students.
  3. Please allow students with weak vision to choose their own seating in the classroom so that they may obtain a clear picture of visually presented material. Enlarged copies of handouts and exams and other information may be requested and should be provided.
  4. Remember that visually presented class materials, such as overheads, slides, and chalkboard information may be difficult for some students to read. Provide the student with an advance copy of the material and/or read aloud information contained on such aids.
  5. Discuss out-of-class activities, such as trips to laboratories or field trips, in advance. Also, fully explain the layout of the regular classroom or any of these different facilities so that a visually impaired or blind student can negotiate his way through the area.
  6. Alternate testing formats may be considered, including permitting a blind student to tape his answers to oral test questions rather than writing his answers on paper. The use of braille computers to produce test answers is another possibility. In addition, placing the test on the computer equipment in the library might be an option. Extra time for test completion will probably be needed if the test is read by a reader.
  7. Perhaps this suggestion is the most important: Advisors should be encouraging visually impaired students to secure the title, author, and edition of textbooks to be used in classes well in advance so that the students, if needed, can request these books on tape. For classes requiring the reading of other books, the instructor should provide such information to students at the beginning of the course. Tapes may be requested from Recording for the Blind, 800-221-4792. RFB is a non-profit service organization that provides educational and professional books which are readable for people with small-print reading disabilities.

STUDENTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES

The American Council on Learning Disabilities defines specific learning disabilities as follows: "Specific learning disability is a chronic condition of presumed neurological origin which selectively interferes with the development, integration, and/or demonstration of verbal and nonverbal abilities. Specific learning disability (SLD) exists as a distinct handicapping condition in the presence of average to superior intelligence, adequate sensory and motor systems, and adequate learning opportunities. The condition varies in manifestations and in degree of severity."

Suggestions for Communication with the Student:

  1. LD is an invisible disability. Oftentimes, learning disabled students are hesitant to disclose their difficulties. A teacher could orally encourage any students who need testing or classroom accommodations to discuss their situations during conference hours.
  2. A LD student requesting accommodations should be encouraged to provide the Office of Disability Services with professional documentation of his specific learning disability for evaluation so that continuing accommodations can be considered. This documentation should not be submitted to or retained by the individual faculty member.

Considerations for the Classroom:

  1. The most common accommodation for students with learning disabilities is extended time for test taking. There should be some extra time granted; time and a half is considered adequate. Some instructors might arrange for students needing extra time or a distraction-free environment to be supervised by a graduate assistant.
  2. For students with writing or spelling disabilities, the use of a computer or even a spellcheck for in-class assignments is an accommodation to be considered.
  3. Students who have learning disabilities that affect their visual processing or reading comprehension capabilities benefit greatly from recorded class materials.
  4. In-class notetakers are often helpful; in fact, sometimes another classmate might be requested to aid the situation.
  5. Allowing students to use other optional test materials instead of frustrating scantron sheets or requesting a scribe to complete a scantron can enable the student to be successful.

STUDENTS WITH HEARING IMPAIRMENTS

Depending on a student's degree of hearing loss, ranging from a mild disability to total deafness, his speech, as well, may be affected and difficult to understand. There are some people who are hard of hearing who elect to use sign language as their primary means of communicating; however, others choose lip reading and hearing aids to facilitate communication. These are accommodations and suggestions which might help in the classroom:

Suggestions for Communicating with the Student:

  1. Be sure to face hearing impaired students to whom you are addressing your lecture. Exaggerated lip movements might only hinder their understanding.
  2. Remember that body language can also aid in their understanding your message.
  3. Sometimes a written lecture is more effective. Instructors might consider offering a written copy of their notes for each meeting.
  4. If the hearing impaired student is using an interpreter aid in his note taking, teachers should direct their comments to the student, not the interpreter.
  5. If a student's speech is difficult to understand, asking the student to repeat his comment or question is permissible. The key here is patience and understanding.

Considerations for the Classroom:

  1. Face the class when lecturing. An instructor speaking to the "chalkboard" creates a difficult learning experience for the hearing impaired student.
  2. Reiterate comments or questions which have been offered by other students in the class so that the hearing impaired will not be at a disadvantage.
  3. Some students may benefit from a transmitter system in which the instructor wears a small transmitter and a small lapel microphone while the student wears a receiver to amplify the instructor's voice.
  4. Allow an interpreter's presence to become a commonplace situation in the classroom. Even though a signing interpreter's presence may be fascinating initially, students become acclimated and are often no longer distracted by the interpreter's presence.
  5. Any written supplement to oral instruction is beneficial.
  6. Remember that when presenting films or slide presentations in a darkened classroom, lip reading then becomes difficult if not impossible. Again, written notes or outlines then become advantageous.
  7. Finally, tolerate the presence of scribes or other notetakers who are essential to hearing impaired students who may not be able to follow oral lecture notes for extended periods of time.

STUDENTS WITH PSYCHOLOGICAL DISABILITIES


When properly diagnosed and treated, people with psychological disabilities can become productive students even though the general population oftentimes misunderstands or even fears the myths about mental illness and psychological impairments. Various academic accommodations can be implemented to aid the psychologically impaired student to achieve his degree.

Suggestions for Communicating with the Student:

  1. If a student exhibits disruptive behavior in the classroom, speak to him privately after class.
  2. Do not hesitate to contact the campus' Student Services Office (318-257-2488) in Keeny Hall for suggestions and ideas in integrating the student, especially in situations in which you are uncomfortable or unfamiliar.

Considerations for the Classroom:

  1. Accommodate the student with extra time, if possible, for testing.
  2. Likewise, provide a distraction-free testing environment to enable the student to concentrate.

STUDENTS WITH "OTHER" DISABILITIES

The largest percentage of students with disabilities fall into none of the previously addressed categories. These other disabilities may include the following:

  • Temporary disabilities
  • Epilepsy
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Chronic pain
  • Cancer
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Asthma
  • AIDS
  • Recovering alcoholic/addict
  • Closed head injury

Naturally, the severity of the condition would disable each student differently in the academic setting. For instance, the amount of medication which is presribed can alter a student's memory retention, alertness, concentration, and attention span. Students who are recovering from temporary conditions may not even be aware that they can request special supportive servies. Sometimes, if students are aware that there is help available, this encouragement by both administration and faculty could prevent much frustration.

Suggestions for Communicating with the Student:

  1. Inform the student of the counseling services available in Keeny Hall.
  2. Encourage the student to seek help, especially during recovery periods.
  3. Do not hesitate to request suggestions or help from the counseling services yourself if the need arises.

Considerations for the Classroom:

  1. Consider being flexible in your attendance policy if absences are medically documented and unavoidable.
  2. It is the student's responsibility to initiate arrangements for missed class meetings, not the instructor's.
  3. A student should be held accountable if he needs to leave a classroom unexpectedly or hurriedly. In other words, he needs to seek time to make up the work missed.


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