Frequently Asked Questions, Page 3
Q. EXAMINATIONS: Some students with disabilities are provided extended time on examinations. Is this fair to other students?
A. The Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states: "The results of an examination should accurately reflect an individual's aptitude or achievement level or whatever the test purports to measure, rather than reflecting an individual's impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills." The courts have repeatedly upheld that a lengthening of the standard examination period is an appropriate accommodation for some students with disabilities. For example, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ordered the State Board of Bar Examiners to allow double the standard time on the bar exam for an applicant with Dyslexia and Attention Deficit Disorder. Similarly, the State District Court for the Western District of New York ruled that a State Bar applicant with a visual impairment must be allowed a four-day examination period rather than the standard two-day period.
Q. I have a student with a learning disability in my class. She says it is a reading disability and she has trouble with comprehension. She needs to be able to understand the text book. What can be done?
A. I'm glad you asked this question. Since she disclosed that she has an LD, you can make sure that she is working with us in DSPS to receive appropriate services. There can be several types of disabilities that can lead to reading problems. That determines the best solution. She may benefit from getting the text in an audio format. Karen Zeigler, our alternate media specialist is the resource for this service. In addition, she can assist the student in obtaining and using Kurzweil 3000, a text to speech software program that also provides a variety of tools for reading and study skills. She may be a good candidate for my reading class: LRNS 117. It can be taken by anyone and covers numerous topics and strategies to enhance one's college reading ability. It is very helpful when taken in tandem with a content course in another discipline.
Q. May I fail a student with a disability?
A. Yes. It is possible to fail a student with a disability. The laws mandate access to education, not guaranteed academic success. When a faculty member has provided reasonable academic accommodations, has complied with the law, and the student still does not meet the course requirements, then failing a student is proper and lawful.
Q. Universal Design sounds great, but how can I begin to implement some UD ideas when my course is already packed with content I need to present?
A. Understandable, however, remember that UD principles can involve just a change in the manner in which the information is presented or by adding an additional way to evaluate student learning or just by building better rapport with your students. It will probably impact your time when reading about strategies and creating some new tools, but it doesn't have to impact time spent in class. For example, instead of straight lecture for 50 minutes, lecture for 15, have students write a 5 minute summary of what they learned, lecture for another 15 minutes and do a 5 minute whip around. Use the remaining 10 minutes to summarize what you feel are the most important things they should come away with and why. You lost some lecture time, but you will make up for it with better student buy-in, attention and concentration, and retention. Consider the cost-benefit for the change.