2003 Conference Proceedings

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ACCOMMODATING STUDENTS WITH HIDDEN DISABILITIES IN POST-SECONDARY CLASSROOMS

Presenter
Mayda LaRosse, MA,
Human Factors Consultant
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
PO Box 6080
Morgantown, WV 26506-6080
Phone: 800-526-7234
Fax: 304-293-5407
Email: mlarosse@wvu.edu

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) , a service of the Office of Disability Employment Policy of the US Department of Labor, receives accommodation questions about students with disabilities in classroom environments, such as public schools, post-secondary schools (including college or technical schools) continuing education, vocational schools, and internships/employment. These questions come from the students themselves, academic advisors, instructors, and family members. These callers want to know about accommodation ideas that will work in educational environments. JAN provides basic educational and instructional strategies that facilitate learning among students with disabilities in classroom or training sessions.

Primarily, JAN consultants provide information on accommodations that assist with inclusion, equal opportunities, and transitioning from school to work. Nearly one million students with disabilities attend undergraduate college courses and nearly 90,000 attend graduate school (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "The 1995-96 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study" at http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2002/digest2001/tables/dt212.asp).

Students with disabilities are of all ages and have a variety of impairments. Students may have difficulty performing certain functions due to motor, mobility, cognitive/neurological, psychiatric, and sensory impairments. Determining accommodations for students with disabilities in post-secondary classrooms can be very challenging, but it seems more so for students who have hidden disabilities.

At the presentation, a consultant from JAN will provide accommodation ideas for the post-secondary setting focusing on a variety of hidden disabilities. The consultant will give different scenarios of accommodations ideas for various hidden disabilities, such as students with learning disabilities (LD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), color blindness, psychiatric disorders, and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Some of the ideas might be hi-tech, such as using a computer with specific software, while others might be no-tech, such as labeling containers. The challenge is to think outside the box when brain-storming of accommodation ideas.

According to JAN's latest survey (Accommodation Benefit/Cost Data, 1999), over 70% of the accommodations that are provided cost $500 or less. Actually, 20% of the accommodations didn't cost anything at all. The document can be found at http://www.jan.wvu.edu/media/Stats/BenCosts0799.html. Though this survey was done for the employment sector, it's reasonable to believe that the accommodations provided might be similar to those offered in the educational sector. Also, due to the fact that in educational setting equipment might be available to a number of students who need it, the cost could actually be much less per student. For example, a school might have 4 computers with screen reading software and have 20 students who sign up for specific times during the week when they would use them. Therefore, 4 screen reading software will actually help/accommodate 20 students. Of course in the employment sector, it would be more appropriate for the employer to provide each employee with software at his or her own work station.

At the end of the presentation, the consultant will allow time for an audience question and answer segment. Presentation and other informative handouts will be available for distribution.


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