Staff Development

That doesn't seem fair!

"Fairness means that everyone gets what he or she needs." Richard LaVoie

If you haven't seen "How Difficult Can This Be," The F.A.T. City workshop video with Richard LaVoie, then you are missing out. It is available in our library and I have a copy. In it, LaVoie simulates for a group of non-disabled teachers, parents and other medical and educational specialists, what it is like to experience various learning disabilities.  It is a life-changing experience to watch it.

At the end of the video, he talks about fairness. I know that no one participating in this discussion has a problem, but my students and I have heard a lot of concerns about the fairness of academic accommodations.

"You are in college now, if you can't compete with the rest of the class, maybe you don't belong here."
"Using assistive technology to read a book to you is not really reading."
"I give more than enough time for students to complete my tests. You won't need any more than that."

If you do arrange to watch this video, I have a handout that I prepared to go along with it. It makes suggestions for teaching strategies that match each disability.

As our educational system moves deeper into the new millennium and as budgets dwindle, the response from higher up seems to be even more standardization of services and processes.  We have begun to equate success with an ability to navigate one or two pre-established paths that have been identified somehow as the best, most cost efficient and expeditious routes through college. Add to that, the fact that most instructors teach in the manner that they best learned. Fairness has been defined as making sure that everyone gets the same thing. However, Richard LaVoie has postulated that fairness does not mean that everyone gets the same, it means everyone gets what he or she needs. This brings me to a definition for "equal access."

Next: What is Equal Access?

Professional Development

Howard Blumenfeld
Professional Development Coordinator


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Page last modified: February 25, 2014