OLD DOMINION UNIVERSITY OFFICE OF EDUCATIONAL ACCESSIBILITY FACULTY HANDBOOK
This faculty guide has been developed to provide the Old Dominion University faculty with practical information and suggestions to meet the needs of students with disabilities in the classroom.
A student with a disability is any student who has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working. A person is considered to be a person with a disability if he/she has a disability, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.
Students with disabilities are a rapidly growing minority in American higher education. At Old Dominion University over five hundred students have identified themselves to the Office of Educational Accessibility as having disabilities and are receiving accommodations and/or services through the University. Nationally, during the past several years, the proportion of college freshmen with disabilities has tripled to 7.4 percent.
The increased observance of students with disabilities on college campuses can be attributed to several factors. First, greater assistance has been provided to students with disabilities in the elementary and secondary schools resulting in more students with disabilities prepared to attend college. Second, current college students who have not been previously identified as having a disability are being recognized and are receiving accommodations. Finally, federal laws have protected the rights of these students to receive reasonable accommodations and have provided means of redress if rights are violated. This final factor supports student assertiveness in requesting accommodations.
The obligation to accommodate students with disabilities extends beyond the University's commitment of access to programs, services, activities and the physical plant. A legal imperative, which is embodied in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, confirms civil rights for persons with disabilities by the following statement:
No otherwise qualified handicapped individual...shall, solely by reason of his handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
In order to comply with this mandate, colleges and universities that receive Federal assistance must assure that the same educational programs and services offered to other students are available to students with disabilities. Academic ability must be the sole basis for participation in post-secondary education.
To accomplish this goal, both physical and programmatic access must be provided. While this includes the removal of architectural barriers and the provision of auxiliary services, reasonable accommodations must be made by the University through its instructors and administrators in the instructional process to ensure that appropriate educational strategies and modes are available to students.
Achieving this goal requires knowledge and sensitivities. This handbook is designed to provide information and to heighten awareness for the benefit of both faculty and students
Recognition of the need of services began in 1987. The Assistant to the Vice President for Student Services worked with a committee to generate the nucleus of a program. Subsequently, a series of graduate assistants and part-time coordinators further developed the program. Since 1992, a full-time coordinator has worked to provide services to students. As the number of students with disabilities on the campus has increasingly been recognized, there has been growth in the available support services, assistive equipment, and staff knowledge and experience to meet the needs of these students.
The Office of Educational Accessibility provides students and faculty with assistance and information in meeting the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The professional staff works with faculty, administrators and students toward the goal of complying with state and federal regulations and integrating the student with a disability into the college community.
The major goal of the Office of Educational Accessibility is to assist all students with disabilities in the pursuit of their educational objectives. Efforts are made to coordinate the student's needs with services and resources available within the institution.
The Office of Educational Accessibility office strives to coordinate services that will enable students with disabilities to act as independently as possible in a supportive atmosphere that promotes self- reliance. Students may choose whether or not to use the available services.
Students wishing to use services and accommodations must follow the established process. No services will be rendered until the student has completed the prescribed steps and indicated that he/she understands and agrees with the professional evaluator's recommendations and the student's responsibility in the delivery of services. The student must:
Complete an intake procedure with the Office of Educational Accessibility prior to the provision of services
Provide recent documentation of the disability and recommendations for accommodations from an appropriate professional
Meet with the Director or Learning Coordinator to determine reasonable accommodations
Submit a Request for Letters Form prior to the start of classes each semester to provide information to the faculty as soon as possible
Provide a Faculty Accommodation letter to instructors.
Offer pre-admission information concerning services and accommodations which are available to enrolled students
Facilitate program accommodations in accordance with recent documentation results
Offer a support group for students with learning disabilities where they can address issues of concern, develop self advocacy skills, and share their skills with others
Refer students to appropriate services such as Student Support Services for tutors
Coordinate a note-sharing program
Offer opportunities for faculty/staff awareness
Act as a liaison between faculty and students
We Do Not:
Provide formal diagnostic evaluations, although we do provide a comprehensive list of qualified diagnosticians in the area
Offer self-contained classes for students with learning disabilities
Ask faculty to compromise the quality of instruction or evaluation in any class, but rather to provide the accommodations necessary for a student to meet the standards of the class
It is most important to remember that students with disabilities are just that; students first who happen to have disabilities. They were accepted into the university using the same standards as everyone else and they share the same desire to learn and succeed. Therefore they need to be treated with the same respect. One of the best ways to do this is by treating them as people first and by using people first language. When using people first language, you state the person first then the disability. Examples would be to:
- Student with disabilities
- Student who is blind or visually impaired
- Student with an emotional disability
- Student with cerebral palsy
- Student with a seizure disorder
- Student with ADHD
- Disabled student
- Blind student
- Emotionally disabled student
- Cerebral palsied student
- Hyperactive student
When you place the student first, you are subtly acknowledging that the student is more than his/her disability. It is also important to refrain from using descriptions of the disabilities that have negative connotations such as afflicted, invalid, confined, and stricken. These words evoke thoughts of illness and weakness; not a message we wish to send to our students.
When Meeting A Person With A Disability:
Offer help, then wait until it is accepted before you give it. Offering to assist someone is polite behavior. Giving help before it is accepted is rude and may, sometimes, even be unsafe.
If a person with a disability asks for help and you want to provide assistance, but don't know how, ask the person to tell you the best way of providing the needed assistance.
If a person with a disability feels she/he can do something but you cannot understand how (e.g. performing certain job requirements, tasks, white water rafting), ask the person to explain.
Accept the fact that a disability exists. Not acknowledging a disability is similar to ignoring someone's sex or height. But to ask personal questions about the disability would be inappropriate until a closer relationship develops in which personal questions are more naturally asked.
Speak directly to the person with a disability (including a person who is deaf), not to their companion.
Speak directly to the person with a disability (including a person who is deaf), not to their companion.
Include students and employees with disabilities when planning programs and meeting locations.
Do not assume that a lack of a response indicates rudeness. In some cases a person with a disability may seem to react to situations in an unconventional manner or appear to be ignoring you. Consider that the individual may have a hearing impairment or other disability which may affect social or motor skills.
When Speaking To Someone Who Uses A Wheelchair:
Do not automatically hold on to a person's wheelchair. It is part of that person's body space. Hanging on or leaning on the wheelchair is similar to leaning on a person sitting in any chair.
Do not be sensitive about using words like "walking" or "running." People using wheelchairs use the same words.
If conversation proceeds more than a few minutes and it is possible to do so, consider sitting down in order to share eye level. It is uncomfortable for a seated person to look straight up for a long period of time.
When Speaking To A Person Who Is Blind:
If you see a person who is blind in a dangerous situation (about to walk into a wall or piece of furniture) speak out and make her/him aware of the danger.
Do not be sensitive about using words like "see" or "look," etc. People who are blind use them regularly.
Speak in a clear, normal manner. Do not exaggerate or raise your voice. Remember that the person is blind, not necessarily hearing impaired.
When Speaking With a Person With A Hearing Impairment:
Speak clearly and distinctly, but do not exaggerate your words. Use normal speech unless asked to slow down.
Provide a clear view of your mouth. Waving your hands or holding something in front of your lip, thus hiding them, makes speech reading impossible.
Use normal tone unless you are asked to raise your voice. Shouting will not help.
Speak directly to the person, instead of from the side or back of the person. Also, make sure the hearing impaired person is looking at you before you begin to speak.
Speak expressively, and keep good eye contact. Persons who are deaf cannot hear subtle changes in tone which may indicate sarcasm or seriousness. Many will rely on your facial expressions, gestures, and body language to understand what you are saying.
If you are having trouble understanding a person's speech, feel free to ask her/him to repeat. If that does not work, then use paper and pen. Most people will not be offended.
Remember, communication is your goal. The method is less important.
If you know any sign language, try using it. If the deaf person you are communicating with finds it a problem, the person will let you know. Usually your attempts will be appreciated and supported.
When talking with a deaf/hearing impaired person, try not to stand in front of a light source (e.g. a window). The deaf/hearing impaired person will find it hard to see your face, which will be silhouetted in the light.
Do not assume that the deaf/hearing impaired person really understands you if she/he nods her/his head "yes." This is often an automatic reaction. If you want to make certain that the person understood, ask her/him (in a tactful way) to repeat or explain what you said.
Most faculty members will, at some point, be teaching students who have physical or learning disabilities. All students require various amounts of assistance in order to make optimal use of their college experience. Students with disabilities differ from other students in their needs for modification of the environment in which they move, learn and are evaluated. While many learn in different ways, their differences do not imply inferior capacities.
Students with disabilities enrolled at the university have met all academic qualifications for admission. They are expected to perform at the same level academically as all other students. It is not necessary to lower academic standards to accommodate a student with a disability. While course requirements are specified, the means to achieve them may need adjustments in order to equalize the competitive disadvantage caused by a disability. The same treatment is not always equal treatment when a functional or processing problem limits a student's involvement in an activity.
In most cases, students and faculty can work with the Office of Educational Accessibility to identify fair alternatives if teaching or testing styles present a barrier to a student with a disability. Many students have already developed workable methods for managing their education. Often, all that is necessary is a meeting early in the alternate courses of action.
Identifying the Student with a Disability
Determining that a student has a disability may not always be a simple process. Visible disabilities are noticeable through casual observation. An immediately recognizable sign of a physical impairment, for example, is the use of a cane, a wheelchair or crutches.
Other students have hidden or inconspicuous disabilities, such as hearing loss, legal blindness, cardiac conditions, learning disabilities, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, psychiatric disorders and seizures, all of which are usually not outwardly apparent.
Finally, there are students with multiple disabilities, which are caused by such primary conditions as muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis. Depending on the nature and progression of the illness or injury, it may be accompanied by a secondary impairment in mobility, vision, speech, or coordination, which may, in fact, pose greater difficulties.
Some students with disabilities will identify themselves by contacting the Office of Educational Accessibility and their instructors before or early in the semester. Others, especially those with hidden disabilities, may not reveal impairments until later in the semester.
Students who wait to self-identify their disability may do so for a variety of reasons. Some are reluctant to draw attention to themselves as different from their peers. Some students want to try to accomplish their goals without accommodations. (See Policy and Procedures Part IV).
Dividing the Responsibilities
To the extent manageable, students with disabilities bear the primary responsibility for identifying their disabilities and for adjusting to the learning environment. However, accommodation of the disability involves university and departmental resources.
Dialogue between the student and instructor is essential early in the term, and follow-up meetings are recommended. Faculty should not feel apprehensive about discussing the student's disability as it relates to the courses.
Attendance & Promptness
The student using a wheelchair or other assistive devices may encounter obstacles or barriers in getting to class on time. Others may have periodic or irregular curtailments of functioning, either from their disability or from medication. Flexibility in applying attendance and promptness rules to such students will be helpful.
A wide range of students with disabilities may be served in the classroom by making reading lists available prior to the beginning of the term, by thoughtful seating arrangements, by speaking directly toward the class and by writing key lecture points and assignments on the chalkboard.
Some understanding is required in coping with more subtle and sometimes unexpected manifestations of a disability. Chronic weakness and fatigue characterize some disabilities and medical conditions. Drowsiness, fatigue or impairments of memory or speech may result from prescribed medications. Such curtailments of functioning and interference with the student's ability to perform should be distinguished from the apathetic behavior it may resemble.
Students who cannot take notes or have difficulty taking notes adequately would be helped by allowing them to tape-record lectures, by permitting them to bring a note-taker to class, by assisting them in borrowing classmates' notes, or by making an outline of lecture materials available to them. The method most appropriate to each student will be identified by the Office of Educational Accessibility.
Testing & Evaluation
Depending on the disability, the student may require an adjustment in the administration of examinations. For out-of-class assignments, the extension of deadlines may be requested. A letter from the Office of Educational Accessibility will identify the appropriate accommodation(s) for each student. The same standards should be applied to students with disabilities as to all other students in evaluating and assigning grades.
All accommodations students receive at Old Dominion University are based upon documentation resulting from an evaluation performed by a qualified professional. The University does not provide documentation of disability for students.
Guidelines for Documentation of Specific Learning Disability have been developed which identify the elements that must be provided in verifying this disability. These components include:
Comprehensive testing that assesses aptitude, achievement, and information processing
Current test results, usually within the past three years
Assessment instruments normed for testing adults
Specific test scores
Clear and specific diagnosis of a learning disability
Results provided by experienced qualified professionals
Clear identification of the testing professional's credentials
Recommendations about accommodations for the academic setting.
The following is a list of some of the accommodations to which eligible students with appropriate documentation may have access at Old Dominion University:
- Allowing extended time for testing
- Disregarding spelling errors for in-class work
- Permitting tape recording of classes
- Allowing use of a calculator in mathematics classes
- Allowing a distraction-reduced setting for testing
- Permitting an alternative to opscan forms for objective tests
- Permitting attendance at duplicate lecture sections
- Allowing essay exams to be completed using word processing
- Permitting tests to be placed on tape
- Permitting alternative testing which allows for a scribe
- Utilizing multiple choice tests as much as possible
- Providing advanced notice of writing assignments
- Allowing extended time to complete course requirements.
Mobility impairments are generally defined as any disability which restricts a person's gross motor functioning and which may require the use of specially constructed equipment for access.
The numbers of mobility impaired students attending colleges and universities have always been high. This does not, however, mean that their disabilities are similar. Mobility impairments range from musculoskeletal disabilities to respiratory and cardiac diseases, which are debilitating, and may consequently affect mobility. Some of these conditions may also impair the strength, coordination, endurance or dexterity that are necessary for proper hand function.
While the degree of disability varies, students may have difficulty getting to or from class, performing in class, and managing out-of-class assignments and tests.
The disabilities which can, and generally do, restrict mobility and motor functioning are:
A group of disabling conditions that result from damage to the central nervous system. The effects can be severe, causing an inability to control bodily movement, or the effects can be mild, perhaps only slightly affecting the speech or hearing. Persons with cerebral palsy who have gross motor dysfunction may walk with crutches or use a wheelchair. Their access to the environment may be restricted due to architecture which impedes travel such as entrances which do not accommodate their mobility aids.
A progressively degenerative disease which creates an inflammation of the joints. Many people with arthritis encounter mobility problems due to knee and ankle joint involvement. Additionally, fine motor control is often impaired, making writing difficult and/or painful.
Impairments existing from birth, which may include the total or partial loss of limbs or require the use of prostheses. Personal mobility may require wheelchair use. The impairment of individual body functions may also exist.
Progressive illnesses. Multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy are two examples. These disabilities are degenerative and often call for eventual use of a wheelchair. Again, not only are gross motor functions impaired, but the deterioration of fine motor activity often develops.
Spinal Cord Injury
An injury involving damage to the spinal cord causing it to be either severely scarred or partially severed.
Injury in relation to the vertebrae determines the amount of functioning the individual will retain. Information on spinal cord injury is detailed and lengthy. For the purpose of this publication, only highlights of descriptive information will be touched upon.
Quadriplegia - a spastic or flaccid paralysis of the upper and lower extremities. Arm and had impairment is dependent upon the location of the fractured vertebra. Most individuals require the use of a wheelchair.
Paraplegia - a spastic paralysis of the lower extremities. In this case, arm and hand function are intact, but ambulation is possible only in exceptional cases. Use of a wheelchair is nearly always necessary.
Hemiplegia - incomplete paralysis involving one side may result from either spinal cord injury or stroke. Ambulation is sometimes possible with the use of aids.
Support services and equipment at Old Dominion University include:
- Note-sharer assistance
- Examination accommodations
- Emergency evacuation plan
- Access to computers
- Lowered drinking fountains (in most locations)
- Lowered telephones
- Accessible lavatories
- Curb cuts and ramps
- Dedicated parking spaces
Information for Faculty
- Integrate seating arrangements in the regular classroom as much as possible
- Students may need to use note-sharers or tape recorders
- Written assignments are best completed outside of class
- Off-campus assignments need to be in accessible locations
- Occasionally classes are relocated to accessible classrooms
- Examinations may be proctored through the Office of Educational Accessibility to utilize accommodations such as scribing or word processing.
Hearing impairments represent the greatest chronic physical disability in the United States. Hearing loss from a slight deficiency affects approximately 19 million Americans while total deafness affects two million.
The age of onset generally determines the profundity of the disability. Those who are born deaf or suffer a hearing loss at an early age, especially in the pre-lingual stage, bear the most severe disabilities. Because they do not hear language, their impairments generally extend beyond hearing to speaking and reading.
For the deaf who can speak, vocal control is often marred, distorting their tone, volume and/or articulation. For the many who use sign language, English is a second language and may therefore, be faulty in most aspects of communications. These secondary effects of hearing impairments need to be understood as physical disabilities rather than intellectual weakness.
People who are deaf or hard of hearing use a variety of devices to help them improve their aural capacity or substitute for it. Many use lip reading but, by itself, comprehension is only 30 to 40 percent of spoken English. Those with a sufficient degree of residual hearing are helped by the amplification provided by hearing aids, which include public address systems or transmitter-receiver systems with a clip-on microphone for the speaker.
The main form of communication for the profoundly deaf is sign language. Students who must rely on sing language need an interpreter, who either mouths what is being said, translates it into sign language, or both.
Support services and equipment include:
- Note sharer assistance
- Assistance in acquiring interpreters
- FM amplification systems
- General support services
- Text-print telephone (TT 1-757-683-5356) or use of the Virginia Relay Center (voice users: 1-800-828-1120) for telephone communication with those who have the necessary receiver/transmitter in their homes or offices.
Information for Faculty
- Auditory Lecture Intake - Instructors should face the class as much as possible while lecturing in order to allow the student to lip read and get visual cues from the face to enhance comprehension. Instructors should be careful that light sources do not interfere with seeing their face. They should speak clearly and audibly. Placing key phrases on the board and repeating questions asked by other students is also helpful.
- Attention - At the beginning of a classroom presentation and following breaks, draw the student's attention before speaking.
- Seating Location - Students will need to sit close to the speaker for maximum intake of visual cues.
- Audiovisual Materials - Instructors should use at least a minimum amount of lighting when presenting audiovisual information so their face, or the interpreter's, can be seen at all times. They should allow time for the student's gaze to shift from the visual materials to the instructor or interpreter for verbal explanation. An alternative is to write captions to visual aids. Supplying the student in advance with a written explanation of a demonstration or facilitating independent viewing time for audio-visual materials in another helpful option.
- Assignments - Students with hearing impairments need to receive assignments in written form in order to insure proper understanding of the requirements. A detailed syllabus and lecture outline will be extremely beneficial. If the hearing impairment involves language difficulties, allow extended time for reading assignments and examinations.
- Acoustics - Students using a hearing aid may find the instructor's voice masked by excessive background noise. If problems continue, room changes, an interpreter (who repeats a lecture at close visual range), or auditory training equipment (to bring the lecturer's voice directly into the hearing aid) may be utilized.
- Exams - Avoid orally administered exams requiring written answers.
- Technical Words - Providing the interpreter and student with a list of technical words at the beginning of the semester will allow them time to develop or learn signs for those words.
- Interpreters - The student and faculty members should meet with the interpreter at the beginning of the semester to discuss potential problem areas. At this time the interpreter can better explain the process of interpreting and answer any questions the instructor might have. The instructor should speak directly to the student even when their conversation is mediated by an interpreter. Faculty should monitor a severely hearing impaired student's progress during the first few weeks to insure that newly learned concepts are clear. Tutors may be available through Student Support Services if difficulty is perceived.
Visual impairments vary from partial loss to total blindness. Persons are considered legally blind when visual acuity is 20/200 or less in the better eye with use of corrective lenses. Most legally blind persons have some vision. Others who are partially sighted may rely on residual vision with the use of adaptive equipment. A totally blind person may have visual memory. Its strength depends on the age when vision was lost, the extent of that visual impairment and the support required. Students may be virtually independent with the use of magnifying eyeglasses, or they may utilize a cane or guide dog and require readers, tape recorders, and taped textbooks.
Whatever the degree of impairment, visually impaired students should be expected to participate fully in classroom activities such as discussions and group work. To record notes, some use such devices as portable or computerized braillers. They may confront limitations in laboratory classes, field trips and internships, but with planning and adaptive equipment their difficulties can be minimized.
Support services and equipment include:
- Priority registration
- Orientation to available equipment on campus
- Taping and reading assistance
- Examination accommodations
- Assistance in acquiring textbooks on tape through Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFBD)
- Accessible computer lab
- Reader and tutor referral
- Print enlargement capability
- 4 track cassette player and tape recorders for in-office use
- Optical reading machine in the library
- Talking calculator
- Emergency evacuation plan
- General support services.
Information for Faculty
- Hold all conferences with visually impaired students in easy-to-locate places and notify the student of any schedule changes.
- Guide dogs are a well-trained working tool for students who use them. They will not be disruptive n class and people should be informed that the dog should not be petted or played with while in harness.
- Provide reading lists or syllabi in advance to allow time for such arrangements to be made as the taping or brailing of texts.
- The Office of Educational Accessibility may request your assistance in finding readers, note-sharers.
- Reserve front seats for low-vision students. If a guide dog is used, it will be highly disciplined and require little space.
- Face the class when speaking.
- Convey in spoken words what you put on the chalkboard and whatever other visual cues or graphics materials you may use.
- Permit lectures to be taped and/or provide copies of lecture notes, where appropriate.
- Duplicate materials distributed to the class on a large print copier.
- Be flexible with assignment deadlines.
- Plan field trips and special projects well in advance and alert field supervisors to whatever accommodations may be needed.
- If a specific task is impossible for the student to carry out, consider an alternative assignment.
- Students should not be exempt from examinations or be expected to master less content or a lower level of scholastic skills because of a visual impairment. However alternative means of assessing their course achievements may be necessary. The students themselves, because of their experience in previous learning situations, and the Learning Coordinator of the Office of Educational Accessibility may offer suggestions on testing and evaluation strategies. The most expedient devices the most expedient devices are alternative examinations (oral, large-print, or taped), the extension of time for exams, and the use of such aids as print enlargers, or tape recorders.
- Note-taking - Students often tape record lectures. For this reason a student may need to sit close to the speaker to insure clear tapes (and to maximize any visual and auditory cues). Students who use Braille may also use a slate and stylus or portable braillers for note-taking. It will be helpful to the student if the instructor spells technical words when presented for the first time in lecture.
- Visual Lecture Intake - Visually impaired students may miss all nonverbal cues unless they are explained by instructors. Intensive visual concentration can be fatiguing for visually impaired students.
- Audiovisual Material (blackboard, projector) and Handouts - These require oral explanation. Instructors should be conscious of their use of descriptive terms. Copies of overhead materials should be provided so that they can later be reviewed with a reader.
- Classroom Changes - When classroom location is changed, another student should wait for the blind student and direct him/her to class. The student should be informed of any changes in arrangement of furniture or equipment.
- Texts - When possible, materials are obtained in Braille or on tape from Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic. Often texts must be ordered well in advance to allow preparation time.
- Reading - volunteer readers are provided by Disability Service to assist blind students with materials that are not previously on tape. Often it is preferable to have a reader from the same class who is familiar with the materials.
- Time Involvement - Because of the time necessary to have books read aloud or to review tapes, students often require extra time to complete required assignments, especially when library research is involved.
- Research Papers - Students and faculty may want to consider the texts already on tape when deciding on topics for a research paper. Catalogs listing taped are available through Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic.
- Last Minute Assignments - Instructors should keep in mind that this can present a problem because reader scheduling and special preparation of material requires adequate advance notice.
- Field Trips, Internship - Preplanning will be needed in order to consider adaptations that may be necessary.
- Exams - Testing needs will vary with the degree of visual impairment. Enlarged print tests or answer sheets may be helpful. With advanced notice, the Office of Educational Accessibility will provide a reader, scribe and access to a word processor for assistance with exams. Other alternatives are to tape record the test question and request typewritten or taped answers, or test the student's competency orally. Matching, multiple choice, or questions involving diagrams can become problematic and often place visually impaired students at an unfair disadvantage because of the visual cues used in doing these types of questions. Extra time may be necessary due to the alternate methods involved.
In the 1980's, awareness about learning disabilities, their possible causes and manifestations increased. As a result, there was an increase in the number of young adults with learning disabilities choosing to attend post-secondary educational institutions. In addition, those students who would not have been recognized are now identified as having a learning disability. A 1982 study by White, Alley, Deshler, et al. revealed that 67% of young adults diagnosed with learning disabilities planned to attend post-secondary educational institutions after high school.
Definition of a Learning Disability
Learning disability (LD) is a generic term for a group of disorders that affect the manner in which individuals with average or above average intelligence acquire, store, retrieve, and express information. Encoding or decoding information may occasionally become inadvertently distorted as it travels between the senses and the brain. This distortion is presumed to result from sporadic dysfunction of the central nervous system, as in the case of a facial tic. Processing problems may occur periodically in one or more of the following areas: oral expression, listening comprehension, mathematical calculation, or problem solving. Individuals with learning disabilities also may have difficulties with sustained attention, time management, or social skills just like any other student.
A Learning Disability is:
- Permanent, although it may seem to be more acute at times, and be more apparent in computation than literacy skills or vice-versa.
- Often inconsistent. A person may have problems on Monday, but not on Tuesday. It may cause problems in grade school, seem to disappear during high school, and resurface in college. It may manifest itself in only one specific area such as math or foreign language.
- Frustrating. Persons with learning disabilities often have to deal not only with functional limitations, but also with the frustration of having to prove that their invisible disability is as handicapping as any other.
A Learning Disability is Not:
- A form of mental retardation or an emotional disorder.
- A learning difficulty that results primarily from visual, hearing, or motor dysfunction.
- A learning problem resulting from environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.
Characteristics of College Students with Learning Disabilities:
College students with learning disabilities are as intelligent, talented, and capable, as any other group of students. Typically, they have developed a variety of strategies for compensating for their learning disability. (Individuals who come from divergent cultural and language backgrounds may exhibit many of the oral and written language behaviors cited below, but do not necessarily have a learning disability by definition.)The degree of severity of the disability varies from individual to individual. People with learning disabilities exhibit some of the characteristics outlined below.
- Slow reading rate /or difficulty moderating reading rate in accordance with material's level of difficulty
- Confusion of similar words, difficulty integrating new vocabulary, and incomplete mastery of basic phonetic skills
- Skipping words or lines of printed material
- Difficulty reading for long periods of time
- Frequent spelling errors (e.g., omissions, substitutions, transpositions), especially in specialized and foreign vocabulary
- Difficulty effectively proofreading writing and making revisions
- Poor penmanship (e.g., poorly-formed letters, incorrect usage of capitalization, trouble with spacing, overly-large writing)
- Inability to correctly copy from a book or blackboard
Oral Language Skills
- Difficulty in translating into oral expression concepts that are understood
- Difficulty following oral or written directions
- Difficult conversing or following a conversation bout an unfamiliar idea
- Inability to concentrate on and to comprehend spoken language when presented rapidly
- Difficulty speaking grammatically correct English
Organizational Study Skills
- Easily distracted by outside stimuli
- Hyperactivity and excessive movements may accompany the inability to focus attention
- Difficulty reading and copying numbers and/or symbols correctly
- Transpositions of numbers in sequences
- Difficulty with memory for formulas
- Difficulty understanding oral directions
- Difficulty distinguishing between visual symbols (e.g., x and +)
- Difficulty understanding oral directions
The above primary problems for students with learning disabilities impede their performance in the following secondary areas, which are often difficult for students without disabilities:
- Uneven comprehension and retention of material read
- Difficulty identifying important points and themes
- Difficulty planning a topic and organizing thoughts on paper
- Difficulty with sentence structure (e.g., sentence fragments, run-ons, poor grammar usage, missing inflectional endings)
- Compositions often limited in length
- Slow production of written work
- Difficulty with organizational skills
- Time management difficulties
- Slow to start and complete tasks
- Repeated inability, on a day-to-day basis, to recall what has been taught
- Class notes taken lack overall organization
- Trouble focusing and sustaining attention on academic tasks
- Inconsistent attention span during lectures
- Difficulty handling multiple task demands
- Quickly becomes overloaded
- Difficulty solving problems
- Slow visual processing speed
- Difficulty comprehending word problems
- Difficulty understanding a new application of a previously learned formula to a new problem
- Difficulty recalling previously learned conceptsDifficulty storing and retrieving information over a long period of time.
Support services and accommodations at Old Dominion University include:
- Referral to Student Support Services for notetakers and tutors
- Testing accommodations
- Access to a special section of Spanish 101-102 designed with accommodations
- Priority registration
- Access to word processing for testing
- Advice about course load
- Assistance in acquiring textbooks on tape through RFB&D
- Study strategy assistance
- Learning disability support group
- Section of University Orientation (ELS 101) for students with learning disabilities
- Coordination of academic adjustments as supported by the student's documentation.
Information for Faculty
- Provide students with a detailed course syllabus. Make it available before the start of classes.
- Clearly spell out expectations at the beginning of the course (e.g., grading, material to be covered, due dates).
- Start each lecture with an outline of material to be covered that period. At the conclusion of class, briefly summarize key points.
- Present new or technical vocabulary on the blackboard or use a student handout. Terms used in context will give them greater meaning.
- Give assignments orally as well as in written form. This will eliminate confusion regarding due dates and content.
- Announce reading assignments well in advance. This will be of great help to students with LD who use taped text materials. It takes an average of six weeks to get a book tape-recorded.
- Facilitate use of tape recorders for note-taking by allowing students to tape lectures.
- Provide study questions for exams that demonstrate the format, as well as the content, of tests. Explain what constitutes a good answer and why.
- Permit use of simple calculators, scratch paper, and electronic or conventional spellers' dictionaries during class sessions and testing.
- Provide adequate opportunities for questions and answers, including review sessions.
- If possible, select a textbook with an accompanying study guide for optional student use.
- Periodically review previously learned mathematical concepts and skills.
- Allow students to utilize formula cards during testing
Students with psychological disabilities present some of the most difficult challenges to the college professor. Like those with other disabilities, their impairments may be hidden and, in fact, latent, with little or no effect on their learning. Unlike others, however, their emotional disturbances may manifest themselves in negative behavior ranging from indifference and recalcitrance to disruptive behavior. Such conduct makes it hard to remember that they have as little control over their disabilities as do the students with physical disabilities.
The most common psychological impairment among students is depression. The condition may be temporary, in response to inordinate pressures at school, on the job, at home or in one's social life; or it may be a pathological sense of hopelessness or helplessness which may provoke, in its extreme, threats or attempts at suicide. It may appear as apathy, disinterest, inattention, impaired concentration, irritability, fatigue or other physical symptoms resulting from changes in eating, sleeping, or other living patterns.
Anxiety is also prevalent among students and may also be the transient reaction to stress. Mild anxiety, in fact, may promote learning and improve the student's functioning. Severe anxiety may manifest itself as withdrawal, constant talking, complaining, joking, crying, fantasizing, or extreme fear, sometimes to the point of panic. Bodily symptoms might include episodes of lightheadedness or hyperventilation.
Students are susceptible to the myriad psychological disorders that others are, some of which express themselves in inappropriate classroom behavior or inadequate performance on assignments. Some troubled students who are undergoing treatment take prescription medication to help control disturbing feelings, ideas and behavior. These medications might cause undesirable side effects such as drowsiness and disorientation.
Information for Faculty
In dealing with psychological conditions that impair the functioning of the affected student alone, the principles outlined for all students with disabilities in Section IV generally apply. If the behavior begins to affect other or your course of instruction, other measures may be necessary:
- Discuss inappropriate classroom behavior with the student privately, directly, and forthrightly, delineating if necessary the limits of acceptable conduct (see Code of Student Conduct, "The Faculty Handbook").
- In your discussions with the student, do not attempt to diagnose or treat the psychological disorder. Focus on the student's behavior in the course.
- If you sense that discussion would not be effective, or if the student approaches you for therapeutic help, refer the student to the Office of Educational Accessibility, to the campus counseling staff or to an appropriate community mental health agency, whichever is most acceptable to the student.
- Promptly refer to the college's proper disciplinary or security channels any behavior by the student that may be abusive or threatening to self or others. Offices and telephone numbers are:
- Campus Police 757-683-4000
- Counseling and Psychological Services 757-683-4401
- The Office of Educational Accessibility 757-683-4655
One of the largest growing groups of students with disabilities on the college campus is students with Asperger's Syndrome. Therefore our understanding of this disability and the necessary supports are essential to help these students as they enter into college life.
The most common characteristic of persons with Asperger's Syndrome is the general inability to understand non-verbal behavior and social situations. These students have great difficulty understanding and using non-verbal behaviors such as eye-gaze, facial expressions, and gestures. They also have great difficulty developing appropriate peer relationships due to their inability to understand other's implicit intentions and subtle social nuances. It is extremely important to remember that students with Asperger's Syndrome do desire to have positive peer relationships; they simply lack the innate ability to negotiate the extremely complex realm of social interactions.
Another common characteristic of persons with Asperger's Syndrome is a range of idiosyncratic behaviors. They tend to develop intense pre-occupations with specific areas of interest. Areas of interest tend to revolve around transportation, electronics, computers, science, and mathematics. While the college campus is a great place to pursue these interests, students with Asperger's tend to immerse themselves in the interests to such an extent that it dominates their conversations and time. Other idiosyncratic behaviors may include repetitive motor patterns and vocal tics during times of stress. In order to avoid some stress, students with Asperger's Syndrome tend to develop strict routines and rituals in their lives. They need these often intricate routines and rituals so that they can establish some predictability in the ever-changing, complex world.
In general, these students tend to have good cognitive and academic abilities. They are highly visual learners. Many adults with Asperger's Syndrome describe their learning as a series of pictures in their heads. They are able to see the pictures of the information when asked to recall it. They work best with factual information. They tend to have very good verbal memory. They have a hard time, however, with academic tasks involving problem-solving, synthesis of information, and understanding another's perspective. Group projects and team work can be particularly stressful to student with Asperger's Syndrome.
Persons with Asperger's Syndrome report a wide range of sensory challenges. They can be hypersensitive to sounds; often hearing and being distracted by low intensity sounds such as the hum of a computer or alarms down the street. They can also be overwhelmed by the complexity of noise in large group social settings to such a degree that they are unable to distinguish one voice over the noise. They might also have hypersensitive responses to touch and texture, lighting, and smells. Interestingly enough, they may have lowered responses to temperature and pain.
Keep in mind that Asperger's Syndrome is a broad spectrum disorder. Every person presents the disability differently. The previous descriptions are meant to be a general overview of possible manifestations of the syndrome. When a student identifies himself to you as having Asperger's Syndrome, it is very important to talk with him or her about the following:
- particular strengths and needs,
- areas of interest
- specific sensory sensitivities
- trigger points
- coping strategies
- calming techniques
Getting to know each person as an individual will allow you to best meet their needs in the classroom setting.
Information for Faculty
The following are possible strategies and accommodations that you can use to help students with Asperger's Syndrome in your classroom.
- Work to minimize sensory distractions within the classroom. Remove auditory and visual distractions if possible. Seat them away from windows or overhead projectors. People with autism spectrum disorders often report that florescent lights are highly distracting because they can visually see the flickering of the lights. Consider turn off overhead lights if it is possible.
- Set clear expectations for class attendance, class participation, tests, and assignments. Clear, concise written expectations are best.
- If the student becomes disruptive to the flow of the class (i.e., asking too many questions or providing too much factual information), speak with the student individually after class. Explain in clear and specific terms what behaviors are expected in your classroom.
- Establish a quiet area for the student to go if he or she becomes overwhelmed or distressed during class. This should be a place where they can quickly go in order to calm when stress and anxiety have been triggered in class.
- If group projects are required in your class, establish a clear role for the student with Asperger's within his/her group. Note-taker or researcher might be good roles. Another option would be to allow the student to work individually on the project.
- If possible, use the student's area of interest for research or class projects. Highlight his or her areas of strengths in the classroom setting.
- Provide extended time for tests especially if they require problem-solving or synthesis of information.
- If possible, provide short answer or multiple choice tests rather than essay format.
- Keep in mind that the student may not be capable of understanding/taking another's perspective, so papers or projects that involve this skill may be impossible for the student to complete satisfactorily.
Substance abuse is a condition of psychological and/or physiological dependence on a chemical substance such as alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription drugs. Individuals who are recovering from drug or alcohol abuse or who are in treatment programs to assist them in recovery are protected by federal legislation as are individuals with other types of disabilities.
These students may experience psychological problems such as depression, anxiety or very low self-esteem. They may exhibit poor behavioral control and, if they are using medication as a part of their treatment, they may experience undesirable side effects.
Support services include:
- Personal and academic counseling
- Referrals to community support agencies
- Assistance with registration
- General support services.
Information for Faculty
- Students showing symptoms of substance abuse should be referred to the appropriate college facility: Counseling and Psychological Services, the Office of Educational Accessibility, or Student Affairs.
- Inappropriate classroom behavior should be discussed with the student in a private setting.
- Appropriate campus disciplinary channels (Student Affairs or the Vice President for Student Services) should be used when necessary.
- Section IV and the information on psychological impairments of this handbook provide suggestions for additional classroom considerations.
- Counseling and Psychological Services staff will refer students who are concerned about their own or someone else's drinking or drug use to community and private practitioners for therapy or intervention. The staff acts as liaison between the University and various treatment programs in the community, referring students in need of treatment as well as supporting those already involved in a treatment program. Information on self-help groups (i.e., A.A., N.A., A1-Anon) that meet on and off campus is also available.
Speech impairments range from problems with articulation or voice strength to complete voicelessness. They include difficulties in projection, as in chronic hoarseness and esophageal speech; fluency problems as in stuttering and stammering; and the nominal aphasia that alters the articulation of particular words or terms.
Support services and accommodations include:
- Assistance in communicating with faculty and staff
- Academic and personal counseling
- General support services
- Extended time for testing.
Information for Faculty
- Give the students the opportunity to speak, but do not compel them to speak in class.
- Permit them the time they require to express themselves without unsolicited aid in filling gaps in their speech. Don't be reluctant to ask the student to repeat a statement.
- Address them naturally. Don't assume the spread phenomenon - that they cannot hear or comprehend.
- Consider course modifications, such as one-to-one presentations and the use of a computer with a voice synthesizer.
Students with speech impairments may be hesitant about speaking n class and/or may require more time to be understood. After some practice listening to the student, it will become easier to understand him/her. The instructor should not hesitate to ask for repetition of words or phrases. Alternatives for classroom participation might be considered if the student finds speaking in class too difficult. If possible, oral exams should be avoided.
There are many other medical conditions that may interfere with a student's academic functioning. Some of their symptoms, like limited mobility or impaired vision, and the types of intervention required may resemble those covered elsewhere in this manual. The general principles set forth in Section IV apply.
Below are brief descriptions of some of the more prevalent disabilities among students.
Acquired immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is caused by a virus that destroys the body's immune system. This condition leaves the person vulnerable to infections and cancers that can be avoided when the immune system is working normally. The virus is transmitted primarily through sexual contact or needle sharing with intravenous drug users. It is not transmitted through casual contact.
Manifestations of AIDS may be afraid to reveal their condition because of the social stigma, fear and/or misunderstanding surrounding this illness. It is, therefore, especially important that the strictest of confidentiality be observed. In addition, if the issue should arise in class, it is important for faculty to deal openly and non-judgmentally with it and to foster an atmosphere of understanding.
A disorder of the respiratory system, asthma can cause severe respiratory distress. Often accompanied by severe allergic conditions, the asthmatic condition impairs the person's ability to breathe, and often causes dizziness. In its most severe form, asthma can lead to respiratory distress resulting in hospitalization.
The asthmatic student must attempt to control his/her environment to eliminate the allergic triggers to an attack. Some control can be gained by simply avoiding objects or substances that bring on an allergic reaction. Often prescribed medications are necessary. Environmental adjustments may also be required to reduce the impact of perfumes or smoke.Asthma can lead to class absence. Such absences should be few but may last for one or two days.
The student with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has difficulty in the areas of attention, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity due to a disorder of the central nervous system. The condition may exist without the most obvious characteristics of hyperactivity. The effects of this disorder impact the student's concentration, memory, distractibility, ability to control fidgeting, activity levels, organizational focus, and decision- making.
While medication is often prescribed for students with this condition, additional accommodations may also be needed. Testing in a distraction-reduced environment is the most frequently utilized accommodation.
Because cancer can occur in almost any organ system of the body, the symptoms and particular disabling effects will vary greatly from one person to another. Some people experience visual problems, lack of balance and coordination, joint pains, backaches, headaches, abdominal pains, drowsiness, lethargy, difficulty in breathing and swallowing, weakness, bleeding or anemia.
The primary treatments for cancer, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and surgery may engender additional effects. Therapy can cause violent nausea, drowsiness and/or fatigue, affecting academic functioning or causing absences. Surgery can result in amputation, paralysis, sensory deficits, and language and memory problems.
Cerebral palsy is caused by an injury to the motor center of the brain, which may have occurred before, during or shortly after birth. Manifestation may include involuntary muscle contractions, rigidity, spasms, poor coordination, poor balance or poor spatial relations. Visual, auditory, speech, hand-function, and mobility problems might occur.
This Metabolic disorder is characterized by insulin deficiency and excess blood sugar. Diabetes can be controlled by insulin injections and by strict diet.
The strictness of diet forces the individual to eat at regular intervals. Therefore, it is possible that a student may need to eat during class if the class is scheduled during mealtime.
The insulin dependent diabetic, or a person who has had diabetes for years, often has concurrent visual deficits and may have and may have impaired tactile sensation. These may be necessary factors to consider when preparing a classroom experience for the student.
This metabolic disorder causes unusually low blood sugar levels. The student with hypoglycemia must follow a regular dietary schedule, usually eating several small meals during the day. The student may have to eat a small snack during class.
Multiple sclerosis is a progressive disease of the central nervous system, characterized by a decline of muscle control. Symptoms may include disturbances ranging from mild to severe: blurred vision, legal blindness, tremors, weakness or numbness in limbs, unsteady gait, paralysis, slurred speech, mood swings or attention deficits. Because the onset of the disease usually occurs between the ages of 20 and 40, students are likely to have difficulty adjusting to their condition. The course of multiple sclerosis is highly unpredictable. Periodic remissions are common and may last from a few days to several months before the disease symptoms return. As a result, mood swings may vary from euphoria to depression. It is not unusual to have striking inconsistencies in performance.
Muscular dystrophy refers to a group of hereditary, progressive disorders to a group of hereditary, progressive disorders that most often strike the young, producing degeneration of voluntary muscles of the trunk and lower extremities. The atrophy of the muscles results in chronic weakness of fatigue and may cause respiratory or cardiac problems. Walking, if possible, is slow and appears uncoordinated. Manipulation of materials in class may be difficult.
Students with epilepsy and other seizure disorders are extremely reluctant to divulge their condition because of the fear of being misunderstood or stigmatized. Misconceptions about these disorders - that they are forms of mental illness, contagious, and untreatable, for example - have arisen because their ultimate causes remain uncertain. There is evidence that hereditary factors may be involved and that brain injuries and tumors, occurring at any age, may give rise to seizures.
There are three distinct types of seizures:
Petit mal means "little seizure" and is characterized by eye blinking or staring. It begins abruptly with a sudden dimming of consciousness and may last only a few seconds. Whatever the person is doing is suspended for a moment but resumed again as soon as the seizure is over. Often, because of its briefness, the seizure may go unnoticed by the individual as well as by others.
Grand mal seizures may be moderate to severe and may be characterized by generalized contractions of muscles, twitching and limb jerking. A few minutes of such movements may be followed by unconsciousness, sleep, or extreme fatigue.
Students with seizure disorders are often using preventive medication, which may cause drowsiness and temporary memory problems. Such medication makes it unlikely that a seizure will occur in class.
In the event of a grand mal seizure, follow this procedure:
- Keep calm. Although its manifestation may be intense, it is generally not painful to the individual.
- Remove nearby objects that may injure the student during the seizure.
- Help lower the person to the floor and place cushioning under his/her head.
- Turn the head to the side so that breathing is not obstructed.
- Loosen tight clothing.Do not force anything between the teeth.
- Do not try to restrain bodily movement.
- Call the Campus Police (3-4000) or other appropriate authority (911) or ask someone else to do so.
- After a seizure, faculty should deal forthrightly with the concerns of the class in an effort to forestall whatever negative attitudes may develop toward the student.
Sickle cell anemia is a hereditary disease primarily affecting African-Americans. It reduces the blood supply to vital organs and the oxygen supply to the blood cells, making adequate classroom ventilation an important concern.
Because many vital organs are affected, the student may also suffer from eye disease, heart condition, lung problems, and acute abdominal pain. At times limbs or joints may be affected. The disease is characterized by severe crisis periods, with extreme pain, which may necessitate hospitalization and/or absence from class. Completing academic assignments during these periods may not be possible. A reasonable accommodation in this case may be an incomplete for the semester.
The student with a head injury may be recovering from some traumatic impact to the brain or may be rehabilitating from a stroke or similar cerebral disorder.
Head injury can be responsible for a number of significant changes in the student. Brain damage, depending upon the location and intensity of the injury, may affect motor coordination, sensation, perception, speech and language processing, and/or intelligence and memory.
The student is generally enrolled for less than full-time study and must spend a great deal of time with tutors and learning assistants.
Students with head injuries benefit from adaptations to academic testing. Extended time to complete exams outside of class is frequently necessary. Also, avoiding in-class questioning of the student is advisable unless the student volunteers. Immediate recall of facts is often very difficult. The pressure of in-class performance creates anxiety that further blocks recall.
Support services include:
- Personal and academic counseling
- Test/ examination accommodations
- General accommodations.
Old Dominion University is committed to achieving equal educational opportunity and full participation for persons with disabilities. It is the University's policy that no qualified person be excluded from participation in any University program or activity, be denied the benefits of any university program or activity, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination with regard to any University program or activity. This policy derives from the University's commitment to non-discrimination for all persons in employment, access to facilities, student programs, activities and services.
The Office of Educational Accessibility shall oversee the assessment of student requests for accommodation and assistance and shall coordinate the development of the program among the student, faculty members, and department chairs. In addition, the office shall implement the University's disability program for students and supervise the delivery of equipment and services.
The Director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action will monitor the implementation of these guidelines.
The provisions of services to students with documented disabilities at Old Dominion University are based on the principle of non-discrimination and accommodation in academic programs set forth in implementing regulations for Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Students may require unique accommodations and must have their needs assessed on a case-by-case basis. The provision of accommodations for students with documented disabilities need not guarantee them equal opportunity for achievement. Old Dominion University is committed to providing students with documented disabilities the same opportunity to achieve academic success as it provides for all students.
Definition of Those Qualified for Assistance
The appropriate recipient of accommodations is defined as one who has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, performing manual tasks or learning. In addition, a person who has history of such impairment is qualified for assistance. With respect specifically to the post-secondary setting, such a person must be otherwise qualified under the academic standards requisite for admission in spite of the disability.
The Office of Admissions at Old Dominion University will make all reasonable effort to assure that all recruitment activities are made accessible to persons with documented disabilities. All schools hosting Old Dominion University recruitment activities will be encouraged to provide that such facilities are accessible so that interested persons with disabilities will not be excluded or denied participation. In keeping with this policy, Old Dominion University will provide, if given adequate advance notice, such services as interpreters, audiotapes or reader services at recruitment functions.
Admissions to the University
The requirements for general admission for persons with disabilities are no different from those for other persons applying to Old Dominion University. The official application for general admission to the University will not ask for information concerning an applicant's physical or mental disability. However, there are programs within the University that have technical standards that must be met. A prospective student may choose to self-disclose in the admissions process.
Acceptance to Specific Programs
Technical standards have been established by each academic program which describe the skills the student must have or be able to acquire in order to meet curriculum requirements and to perform successfully in an academic program. The University is not required to make major academic adjustments, fundamental changes, or substantially modify standards for acceptance into or completion of any academic program. Students with disabilities interested in applying for acceptance to a particular program should assure that they are aware of any applicable technical standards.
If a question arises about the qualifications of a student with a disability who wishes to be accepted in a particular degree program, the department chair shall have the responsibility of deciding whether or not the applicant will be accepted to the program. After having considered the requests for accommodation presented by the student, as well as the technical standards for the requested program, the department chair shall determine whether or not the student is otherwise qualified for acceptance to the program.
In making the determination, the department chair should consult with the student's advisor and the Office of Educational Accessibility. If after careful consideration, the department chair decides that the student is not otherwise qualified for acceptance to the program of study, the student will be advised of his or her academic options. The decision of the department chair may be appealed to the dean. The dean shall consult with the Director of Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action prior to deciding the appeal. The decision of the dean is final.
Determination of Need for reasonable Accommodations/Academic Adjustments
Under Section 504, institutions are required to respond by making modifications in academic requirements as necessary to ensure that such requirements do not discriminate or have the effect of discriminating against a student with a disability.
The information sent to students upon acceptance to the University shall include a notice that it is the responsibility of students with a disability to contact the Office of Educational Accessibility to arrange for accommodations. The information provided by the student in doing so will be kept confidential and shared only with those involved in arranging for accommodations.
Students who request reasonable accommodations must be prepared to provide documentation of the disability by a qualified professional, where appropriate, before accommodations will be implemented. Except under extraordinary circumstances, the documentation must be current i.e., dated no more than three years prior to enrollment in the University.
Documentation must provide sufficient information to assist the institution in determining what difficulties the student would encounter in a normal learning environment. Although formats will vary, the following critical data should be included in any documentation in support of a request for accommodations:
The student's name, the dates of examination or testing, the examiner's name and credentials.
Identify the problems or reasons for referral.
In cases of learning disability, a list of the tests administered, including the names of the tests as well as the version used.
An analysis or interpretation of test results.
Diagnostic summary with a brief composite of the entire assessment process. The summary should address the concerns raised in the section on reasons for referral.
Recommendations of strategies to assist the student in becoming an efficient learner.
A student with a documented disability who has registered for class or has been accepted into the University can request support services and the use of assistive technology for classroom and extracurricular activities. The student must notify the Office of Educational Accessibility of the accommodations required within a reasonable time prior to the date of anticipated need. Reasonable accommodations by the university are possible only after contact with the Office of Educational Accessibility has been initiated. Students needing sign language interpreters or special equipment should provide 45 days notice to the Office of Educational Accessibility.
The Office of Educational Accessibility will assess requests for accommodation after carefully reviewing the diagnostic evaluation. Each accommodation will be based on objective documentation regarding the effect of the specific documented disability on the ability to learn in the content area in question.
In order to receive accommodations, students must supply their instructors with letters from the Office of Educational Accessibility which verify their disability and identify reasonable accommodations. The student and faculty member shall:
Discuss the implementation of appropriate accommodations
Note their respective agreement to these accommodations
Return the signed forms to the Office of Educational Accessibility noting their agreement in the space provided
Students who have a documented disability may elect not to disclose the disability. Should the student seek accommodations late in the semester, or if a student has a disability which is not obvious and chooses not to disclose it, then he/she should be aware that 1) all previous grades will stand as earned, and 2) accommodations will be implemented n a timely manner, usually within two weeks. For students who are newly identified and documented during the course of a semester and thus, have not had the advantage of accommodations, considerations will be made on a case -by-case basis in consultation with all parties involved.
The types of accommodations provided to student with documented disabilities will vary depending on the nature of the disability and the course content. Often an initial trial-and-error period may be needed to determine the best way to accommodate a student's disability.
The Office of Educational Accessibility will advise the students in writing of the results of the assessment. This notification to the student from the university shall serve as a guide for the provision of services from the university for the semester or situation specified.
If agreed upon accommodations did not meet the needs of the student, the student should contact the Office of Educational Accessibility for further assistance.
If the Office of Educational Accessibility does not agree with the student's request, then the student may follow the procedures outlined in section VI of this policy.
Students with documented disabilities should make sure that their advisors are aware of the disabilities so that the advisor can guide the student as to course or degree requirements which may affect the student's completion of the course or degree program.
The University shall provide the following minimal accommodations for students with documented disabilities in the classroom; 1) classroom activities, including testing procedures and other methods of evaluation used for classroom participation, shall be reasonably modified to provide students with documented disabilities with the opportunity to participate; 2) the location of classrooms shall be changed as appropriate to accommodate the student with a disability; 3) a reasonable number of elective courses shall be held in accessible facilities; 4) the use of special equipment and assistive technology shall be made available; and 5) modification of course requirements or assignments which may not be essential shall be considered.
Student Services and Activities
Students with documented disabilities at Old Dominion University shall be provided reasonable accommodations for participation in and use of student services and activities including housing, health, insurance, counseling, financial aid, physical education, athletics, recreation, transportation, or other extracurricular programs or activities.
Given adequate notification, those students who require assistive technology and assistance for counseling settings will be provided with the aids and assistance necessary to participate.
At athletic and extracurricular activities, such as concerts and stage entertainment, special seating will be provided for students using wheelchairs as audience participants. For Old Dominion University sponsored lectures cultural activities, convocations and commencements, the participation of students with documented disabilities shall be provided, upon request, through the aid of sign language, assistive technology or other reasonable accommodation. Arrangements shall be made by the Office of Educational Accessibility if sufficient notification is given.
Old Dominion University provides on-campus housing space that has been specifically reserved for occupancy by students with documented disabilities and is moderately barrier free. The University will provide and assign students with disabilities to housing as such space is available in residence halls and apartment settings. Roommates will be assigned to students with disabilities occupying modified rooms in the same manner as other resident students.
It is the responsibility of the student to identify him/herself as a student with a documented disability seeking university housing in order to be considered for a reserved space. Application for a reserved space for a student with disability should be made to the Office of Educational Accessibility.
Housing Services will assign that space based on information provided by the Office of Educational Accessibility. Priority will be based on the greatest physical need to live in university housing as a means of providing a student with a disability opportunity to successfully fulfill his/her academic program at the University. Final selection for reserved spaces for students with disabilities will be completed at a specified date in mid-summer of each year. The student will be informed of the room assignment by Housing Services. The remaining spaces reserved for students with disabilities will be turned over to the housing services staff for assignments to students on the housing waiting list. Any student with a documented disability has the alternative of entering the regular housing application procedures and is not required to take a reserved space. However, students who have special needs should make sure the regular housing space can accommodate their needs.
Rental rates for students with documented disabilities shall be set at the same rate as for any other student at Old Dominion University. The exception to this is the single room policy that provides for a limited number of single room accommodations available for qualified students with documented disabilities at the rate which would normally be charged for double occupancy. The request for single accommodations must be made to the Office of Educational Accessibility and be properly documented. A final determination is made by Housing Services. Returning students may request that they be assigned to the same space as in the previous year. Students should proceed through the regular housing process to request the same space.
Complaint Resolution Process
If a student with a documented disability believes that he/she has not been provided with the services to which he/she is entitled, the student should direct his/her complaint to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.
The student shall provide to the Director of EO/AA, in writing, documentation of the disability the nature of the discrimination and any other information deemed important.
The Director will then attempt to reach an agreement through an informal mediation process. If an agreement is reached, a copy of the agreement shall be provided to the student and the faculty member. If an agreement cannot be reached, the Director will convene an ADA Evaluation Committee for the purpose of evaluating the case and making a recommendation to the Provost. The decision of the Provost is final.
The members of the ADA Evaluation Committee will be the Director of Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action (chair), the General Counsel, the Director of the Office of Educational Accessibility, the appropriate dean and a designated representative from Academic Affairs.
Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.