Students with disabilities are individuals. Comparisons with other students needing the same accommodations or appearing to have the same disability should be avoided.
Assumptions based on previous or current experience can be wrong and detrimental. For example, students using wheelchairs may not require the same accommodations. The classroom location should be wheelchair accessible but that may be where commonality stops. Where a student sits in the class (in a wheelchair or transferred into a regular desk), how a student manages the reading and writing requirements of a class and how a student interacts within the class can differ from one person to another.
If a student presenting no apparent disability requires extended time in testing, the student's disability should not be assumed or guessed. Extended time is required for a number of different types of medical conditions that are invisible.
Students are not obligated to reveal or discuss their disability with instructors. Some will choose to have a dialogue about their disability and accommodations; others will not. If a student chooses to openly discuss his or her disability, the content and discussion should be kept private and confidential. It is not uncommon for people to feel awkward when discussing disability. An open mind, avoiding stereotype images and experiences, and recognizing the student for his or her abilities are important in establishing a successful working relationship with each student.
Clearly written course syllabi provided in advance, at the beginning of the semester and posted on the web during the semester offer important information to determine the accommodations for each student. Standards for course content and the evaluation and testing content should not be changed for students with disabilities. The manner in which the student is evaluated or tested may be modified. If specific course activities are impossible for a student, alternative but equal assignments can be considered. The individual student can be invited to participate in the discussion of alternative assignments to determine what is feasible, however the standards of the instructor or course evaluation should not be reduced. The Resource Office can be helpful in suggesting other ways that a student can pursue a required activity.
Students with documented Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) will experience inattention more frequently and severely than other students. Inattentiveness may or may not be apparent by observation. Diagnosis occurs by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist and treatment may involve medication and on-going professional counseling support.
Attention may be affected by environmental stimuli that other persons may or may not be conscious of, e.g. consistent background noise from any source in and out of the classroom. “Street noise”, concurrent conversations overheard in and out of the classroom, radiator pipes “banging”, an air vent fluctuating with subsequent noise and the sound emitted from fluorescent lights are examples of possible distractions to a student with ADD or ADHD.
ADHD indicates “hyperactivity” that, to many persons, is an outward or obvious appearance of behavior. This is a generalization and not exhibited by all persons experiencing ADHD. Hyperactivity within some students may be unapparent.
Common challenges for our students with ADD and ADHD involve the attention required in the classroom and the internal focus ability to learn, sequence and retain the instructional materials presented. Outside of the classroom and sometimes affecting attendance and/or course assignment deadlines, students are challenged with temporal (or time) awareness, the ability to organize a self-schedule, and adhering to schedules and places for reading, studying and writing that are conducive. The degree to which each student is distracted, inattentive and finds successful supports is variable.
Students with ADD and ADHD are expected to meet course requirements in the same manner as other students in the class. Regular, on-time attendance is not excused. Accountability is expected. Recurrent or chronic problems in class attendance or course assignment deadlines should be handled in the same process as expected with any students. Some instructors choose to speak with the student first. If a Dean is contacted for academic concerns as the routine course of action, the Dean should be contacted in situations even when an instructor knows of an ADD or ADHD diagnosis (by way of student disclosure or student permitted disclosure to the Resource Office). The Dean may choose to involve and consult with the Resource Office.
Instructors can provide necessary supports for their students with Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorders in the following ways:
Chronic illnesses that can affect academic life are too numerous to list in entirety. Many present no visible difference but can involve pain, severe and chronic fatigue, stress, discomfort and required time for medical treatment. Some examples are arthritis, Lupus, cancer, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic and severe asthma, seizure disorder, cardiac disease and narcolepsy.
Students with chronic illnesses have made a conscious choice to attend school and do so with medical support. Attendance can be affected by a flare-up or medical complication that cannot be predicted. A change in medication can be disruptive to a student’s energy level, concentration or general feeling of “wellness”.
Students with chronic medical illnesses are frequently experts on their medical management. They are often honest with their self-imposed limits of activity. Because of a history of unpredictable medical episodes and subsequent time delays, these students often plan ahead, within reason, and manage time carefully.
Instructors can provide necessary supports for their students with chronic medical illnesses in the following ways:
Students with mobility impairments may use wheelchairs (manual or powered), scooters, crutches or braces. A personal aide may accompany some students. Others may walk unassisted but sometimes slower and/or with a noticeable difference in gait. And there may be students who rely on a mobility aid (e.g. a wheelchair) only occasionally.
There are a number of medical conditions that affect mobility. Some also affect the individual’s fine or gross upper limb ability. Some can affect the length of time an individual can sit or stand. Chronic medical conditions can include (but are not limited to) spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, amputation, multiple sclerosis, severe arthritis, dwarfism, muscular dystrophy, severe back injury/pain, severe cardiac conditions, severe sickle cell anemia, and severe respiratory disorders.
The Resource Office expects to have advance knowledge of students who have mobility impairments. If the planned course work of a particular student indicates very special arrangements (e.g. laboratory work, internships, fellowships) the Resource Office will begin advance planning with the Dean, the Department or School before a semester begins.
Physical access is a primary consideration for students with permanent mobility impairments. The University continues to make improvements in wheelchair access to and within its buildings. The Resource Office maintains current information on building and specific classroom accessibility changes. Each semester, the Resource Office will work with students known to require wheelchair access and will coordinate with Registrars assigning classroom locations before and after the course registration period and during examination period. It is the legal responsibility of the University to provide students requiring wheelchair access the opportunity to “shop” classes within reason, to locate class rooms in wheelchair accessible locations for these students and to schedule examinations held outside of the regular classroom in accessible locations.
Classroom assignments consider required seating capacity, instructor requirements for AV support within a classroom and the location. Moves during shopping period consider students requiring accessibility who indicate a strong probability to register for the class.
To assist in on-campus transportation, the Resource Office registers students with appropriate medical documentation for the University’s Special Transportation Service provided by Parking and Transit. The Special Service Transportation Service provides door-to-door transport within the campus boundaries. It is similar to any public transportation, subject to unexpected delays of traffic and weather conditions. Delays can occasionally interfere with a student’s timely arrival to a class.
Instructors can provide necessary supports for their students using wheelchairs in the following ways:
Students with hearing impairments can experience different levels of hearing ability and loss. They can present varying abilities in communications. Differences can be attributed to the degree of the hearing loss; when the hearing loss occurred; social, educational and home environments; and the modes of communications used. Students may rely on lip reading, amplification, any one of a number of interpreting services (e.g. American Sign Language (ASL), Cued Speech, and Oral Interpreters) and/or Computer Assisted Real-time Transcription (CART).
What a student needs in his or her academic life depends on degree of loss, the age at which the hearing loss occurs, and his or her experience with alternative communications and the environment. For example, a student with a hearing loss in a small seminar may be able to rely on lip reading. The same student may require amplification or interpreting support for large lecture environments. When a student relies on lip reading or interpreting services, he or she may also require notetaking support to keep a visual focus on the interpreter or lecturer. Students with hearing loss can also vary widely in their written and verbal expressive ability.
The Resource Office meets students with hearing loss or who are deaf prior to their entrance to the University. In planning with some students, it is possible to define the exact supports that will be required. This is possible for a student who is deaf and consistently relies on interpreting services. For others presenting varying degrees of hearing loss, the environments and the correct supports can only be anticipated and arranged when the student arrives.
The University relies on contracted resources for services that includes American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters and Computer Assisted Real-time Transcription (CART). These services are provided in the classroom through arrangements made by the Resource Office. CART is a service provided by trained court stenographers using a steno machine and laptop computer supported with special software that translates steno into written English. Interpreters and CART providers attend class with the student.
Some students will rely on a wireless FM transmission system to amplify the speech of a speaker. A small clip on microphone is offered to the speaker in a class.
A student with a hearing loss will often be proactive to explain his or her requirements to instructors early in the semester.
Instructors can provide necessary supports for their students with hearing impairments in the following ways:
For more information, Pepnet, a national non-profit organization offers a comprehensive online tutorial on an orientation to serving college students who are deaf or hard of hearing.
A student with a learning disability should not be thought of as “a person who cannot read," “a person who cannot write” or a “person who cannot learn at the same pace or knowledge level”. Each student who has been accepted at Yale has shown competitive academic and community achievements. Those with learning disabilities have identified and managed compensatory strategies that minimize a difference in auditory, visual and/or performance (i.e. hands-on) learning. The student’s ability to learn can be challenged by the traditional education methodologies and the student’s ability to perform to his or her maximum capability may be dependent on the accommodations provided in each course.
A student with a learning disability may or may not enter Yale with a reasonable knowledge of what supports he or she requires. The student will meet with the Director of the Resource Office upon registration and each semester the student requests and requires services. Changes in accommodations may occur each semester and are customized to the course requirements and evaluation methods. Knowledge of the student's learning strengths and weaknesses is derived from testing information received from a licensed practitioner and from interviews with the student.
Instructors can generally expect that students with learning disabilities will need support in information processing. This may include reading comprehension, written and verbal expression, writing mechanics (i.e. cursive or print), sequencing and memory, and receptive auditory and visual processing. The skill levels and amount of support required by each student can vary drastically. It is impractical and unnecessary to change a course structure to accommodate one student’s needs in the classroom, however teaching with various modalities (verbal, visual and performance) may provide the support for a good cross section of students’ learning styles. A combination is effective if there is more than one student in the class with a learning disability and will not be detrimental to other students.
Identifying a student with a learning disability is only possible if the student self discloses this information or provides permission to the Director of the Resource Office to disclose it. If this occurs, the student’s information is confidential and should not be shared with others.
Instructors can provide necessary supports for their students with learning disabilities in the following ways:
Some chronic medical conditions may result in permanent or long term limited functional ability in upper limbs. Differences may not be obvious by sight, such as students experiencing carpal tunnel or repetitive injury syndrome. Students experiencing permanent limitations in their manual ability often use compensatory strategies, such as scribes or computer based voice recognition, to manage written requirements outside of the classroom. They have developed the experience and a “comfort level” to dictate information. These students often rely on notetaking services in the classroom.
The Resource Office offers time-limited services to injured students to support the continuity of their academic responsibilities compromised by the injury. Temporary injuries to fingers, hands, wrists, forearms, elbows and shoulders will occur during the academic year. Notetaking services are arranged in class and sometimes require the assistance of instructors to recruit a student within the class to work as a notetaker.
The completion of a term paper can be affected, especially when an injury occurs shortly before its deadline. Using a keyboard with one hand does slow productivity drastically. Students are expected to speak with the Dean if a delay is required. The Resource Office can be contacted to discuss possible services to assist the student in the manual supports required for paper completion.
Exams can be supported by the services of the Resource Office, especially when the format requires writing that will present a compromise to the student. Students with long term or chronic impairments often have experience in taking an exam with an accommodation they have found to be most supportive. This can involve the use of a scribe or typist/transcriber, and extended time to account for the additional time necessitated by the process. Other students may be capable of writing or typing an exam with additional time considered for required rest breaks. Some students may discuss the opportunity to take the examination orally with the instructor.
The manner of how a student with a short term or abrupt injury/ impairment manages the examination process requires a discussion on appropriate choices. The student, Dean and faculty member, along with the Resource Office may be brought into the discussion to determine the most reasonable accommodations without compromising the integrity of the exam. Last minute discussions are unavoidable when the injury occurs shortly before the exam date.
Instructors can provide necessary supports for their students with manual disabilities and injuries in the following ways:
There is a broad range of psychological diagnoses that can be experienced by a student at Yale, both temporary and long term in treatment. By experience, these students are the least likely to seek exceptional support in the course work or to self identify their current or previous history with Deans and instructors. A student’s individual choice to seek out individual supports – from the Resource Office, a Dean or from a faculty member is the student’s choice. Everyone at the University is, however, responsible to present information if a student is suspected to be at risk of injury or harm to him or herself or to others. This circumstance is rare and not indicative of the majority of students at the University or those choosing to register with the Resource Office.
Symptoms and the interruption of academic requirements as a result of psychological disorders are mostly unpredictable.
A person with psychological diagnosis registered with the Resource Office most commonly comes to present medical documentation pro-actively in the event that intervention in a semester becomes necessary but is not expected.
The most common symptoms of psychological disorders exhibited by students at the University are behaviors displaying (but not limited to) inattentiveness, difficulty in concentration, apathy, fatigue, and/or irritability. Anxiety may interfere with concentration affecting classroom learning and the examination process. Medication prescribed can have side effects and can result in fatigue and irregular behavior and attentiveness.
Any student choosing to self disclose a psychological disorder to Deans and faculty should receive the same respect of confidentiality expected of other students. The student is often in fear of a judgment and stigma. If a student reveals a psychological diagnosis, consider and look at the factual information available from the student and self-directed research. Avoid making judgments and assumptions based on the casual information accumulated by way of past media presentations.
Instructors can provide necessary supports for their students with psychological diagnoses in the following ways:
There is a wide spectrum of etiologies and functional abilities among persons known to have a visual impairment. Some students may be experiencing a progressive loss of vision. Some students might experience a medical condition affecting vision in an unpredictable manner. Others may have a visual impairment that has stabilized and is corrected but still substantially hinders their ability to see near and/or far.
Some students experience the inability to use peripheral vision; others, central vision. Some students will have no visual response to color but for others with limited sight, color may be an aid. Some students are blind either from birth or an early age or later in life.
Persons with visual impairments can present themselves with identifying symbols: a white cane used in mobility, a guide dog, electronic notebooks offering voice output or Braille support, and glasses. Others do not. The absence of physical supports should not indicate more or less capability. It simply indicates the individuality of each person with a visual impairment.
Students with visual impairments are often challenged by the regular methodologies and demands of academic life that are highly visual. Modern technology allows access to print and electronic material within certain limits. Copy machines have the capacity to enlarge print. A growing library of books on tape is offered through public and private services. Text files (originally generated or scanned materials) and Internet use is supported by specialized technology added to personal computers with the capacities to enlarge or present materials verbally. Closed circuit TV’s (CCTV’s) produce magnification of print information. These products enable access to vast amounts of information required in the academic setting. How individual students use this technology can vary.
Some students arrive at Yale with years of experience using special technology and manage the use to maximum benefit. Other students arrive at Yale with limited or no experience. The Resource Office can provide the technical and instructional support in these technologies and recognize that each student’s ability to use and adapt is incomparable. It is often a transition time for the student moving from the use of human supports to read, write or otherwise assist to a growing independence achieved with the technology. Communications with the student, faculty members, Deans and the Resource Office is imperative in this transition stage.
Not all students who are blind will rely on braille reading. The Resource Office does offer a braille printer that can convert printed text from a computer file. This resource is available with prior notice.
While use of these technologies is enabling, it does not promise equal access to all sight dependent media. The use of any of these technologies can also require more time and unintentional delays. Technology does not support all visual requirements in and out of the classroom. Charts and graphic displays are not supported well. Video multimedia presentations lacking visual description may be useless to a student with a visual impairment.
Visual interpreters are employed by the Resource Office to present alternative verbal support. Visual interpreters present a verbal description of visual materials in print, either on paper or on a projection screen.
Use of this service in the classroom can be disruptive as the visual interpreter needs to speak in an audible level. The presence of a visual interpreter in the classroom also requires incremental delays in the lecturer’s presentation. The student needs to hear the description of the visual presentation and the lecture information presented separately. The most practical alternative to this process is for the instructor to provide descriptions of the visual materials to the entire class.
Videos and movies without closed description captioning may need to be viewed separately with a visual interpreter if essential to the course content. Otherwise, use of such media should be avoided.
When needed, the Resource Office will often seek the technical support of a Department or School to solicit persons with the correct experiential background to act as a visual interpreter. Common use of a visual interpreter occurs outside of the classroom for assigned reading containing charts, graphs and formulae.
Instructors can provide necessary supports for their students with visual impairments in the following ways:
We will continually find unique academic requirements that can present a penalty or unprecedented challenge to students and faculty members. The search for reasonable solutions is a shared partnership between the faculty member, student and the Resource Office.