Legal Issues Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities.
According to these laws, no otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall, solely by reason of his/her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity of a public entity.
“Qualified” with respect to post-secondary educational services, means “a person who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the education program or activity, with or without reasonable modifications to rules, policies or practices; the removal of architectural, communication or transportation barriers; or the provision of auxiliary aids and services.”
“Person with a disability” means “any person who 1) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities [including walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working], 2) has a record of such an impairment, or 3) is regarded as having such an impairment.”
Disabilities covered by legislation include (but are not limited to) AIDS, Cancer, Cerebral Palsy, Diabetes, Epilepsy, head injuries, hearing impairments, specific learning disabilities, ADHD, loss of limbs, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, psychiatric disorders, speech impairments, spinal cord injuries, and visual impairments.
Working Together: Faculty and Students
Faculty members are encouraged to be responsive to the pedagogical needs of all students. However, students with disabilities may have some additional educational needs which they should discuss with each faculty member. It is helpful to include a statement on the class syllabus inviting students who have disabilities to discuss academic needs.
Staff members in their respective roles are encouraged to be sensitive to the possibility that students with disabilities may be using services or engaging in activities in their area of the university. For advertised events, it is important to include a statement like, Please indicate if you will need special assistance so that we can, if necessary, make reasonable accommodations. Call [person responsible] at least two weeks prior to the event.
The student with a disability is the best source of information regarding necessary accommodations. In post-secondary settings it is the student’s responsibility to request special accommodation if desired, but a faculty or staff member can make a student comfortable by letting them know how to seek accommodations.
Seating near front of class
Large print handouts, lab signs, and equipment labels
Monitor connected to microscope to enlarge images
Class assignments made available in electronic format
Computer equipped to enlarge screen characters and images
Audio, Brailled or electronic-formatted lecture notes, handouts, and texts
Verbal descriptions of visual aids
Raised-line drawings and tactile models of graphic materials
Braille lab signs and equipment labels, auditory lab warning signals
Adaptive lab equipment (e.g., talking thermometers and calculators, light probes, and tactile timers)
Computer with optical character reader, voice output, Braille screen display and printer output
Interpreter, FM system, notetaker
Open or closed-captioned films, use of visual aids
Written assignments, lab instructions, demonstration summaries
Visual warning system for lab emergencies
Use of email for class and private discussions
Audio recorded class sessions
Extra exam time, alternative testing arrangements
Visual, aural, and tactile instructional demonstrations
Spellchecker and grammar checker
Notetaker / lab assistant; group lab assignments
Classrooms, labs, and field trips in accessible locations
Adjustable tables; lab equipment located within reach
Class assignments made available in electronic format
Computer equipped with special input device (e.g., voice input, alternative keyboard)
Flexible attendance requirements and extra exam time
Assignments made available in electronic format; use of email to facilitate communication
Below you will find examples of teaching techniques in the classroom, laboratory, examinations, and field work that benefit all students, but are especially useful for students who have disabilities.
Select course materials early so that students and the Learning Assistance Center & Disability Services have enough time to create or obtain alternative text, including Etext, Braille, and large print.
Make syllabi, short assignment sheets, and reading lists available in electronic format.
Face the class when speaking. Repeat discussion questions.
Write key phrases and lecture outlines on the blackboard or overhead projector.
Take the student on a tour of the lab he/she will be working in. Discuss safety concerns.
Assign group lab projects in which all students contribute according to their abilities.
Arrange lab equipment so that it is easily accessible.
Give oral and written lab instructions.
Assure that exams test the essential skills or knowledge needed for the course or field of study.
Some students will require extra time to transcribe or process test questions; follow campus policies regarding extra time on examinations.
Consider allowing students to turn in exams electronically.
Ask student how he/she might be able to do specific aspects of field work. Attempt to include student in field work opportunities, rather than automatically suggesting non-field work alternatives.
Include special needs in requests for field trip vehicle reservations.
The above was adapted with permission from the DO-IT Web page at the University of Washington.
The University of Washington is working to increase the representation of individuals with disabilities in challenging academic programs and careers through project DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology). Primary funding for the DO-IT program is provided by the National Science Foundation, the State of Washington, and the U.S. Department of Education.