Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 opened the floodgates for inclusive education for children with learning disabilities at the high school level. It helped many of them fulfill their dreams of pursuing higher education at the college level.
However, the continuance of certain accommodations and the addition of others at the college level is equally important for the seamless flow of education to continue.
While legislation on this is not as strong as the 504 accommodations, certain initiatives have been taken to provide students with learning disabilities support at the college level to enrich their human capital for themselves and the nation at large.
How to get LD accommodations at college level?
The procedure for requesting accommodations will require you to set up a meeting with the Disability Services Officer and often requires some form of formal certification from the health authorities.
You can then request such accommodations that will be suitable in overcoming your learning disability to a reasonable extent.
It is sad fact, but true, that while 94% of high school students with learning disabilities are able to avail some form of accommodation benefits, only 17% of college students get access to accommodation benefits.
The responsibility of these sorry statistics lies on the students too as they do not ask actively for such assistance. This can be partly attributed to the lack of awareness. Knowing your rights is an important part of being active builders for your own academic future as well as significant contributors to society as well.
Hence, here is a list of some of these accommodations that can provide the students much assistance at the college level:
Accommodations For Learning Disabilities In College
If the student has short-term or long-term memory issues, they can request to record the lectures on their devices and later replay them, as per their convenience. They can also request smart pens at the college’s expense.
The students can also ask for Audio textbooks and pre-recorded lectures which can act as an essential aid if they suffer from reading and spelling disabilities.
The students can also request other speech-to-text software.
These aids also help the students to learn at their own pace, and not lose out while trying to catch up to the regular classroom pace.
2. Writing Aids
The students can also request for a scribe to take notes. These can be any fellow students at the college who volunteer to take notes for them.
They can also request for use of calculators if they are suffering from a numbers disability like Dyscalculia.
Likewise, the students can request their Professors to provide the course material ahead of the scheduled class so they can prepare adequately beforehand and keep pace with the class.
3. Change in Curriculum
The students can also demand a change in curriculum and course materials for them to a certain extent.
This specialized curriculum can help them achieve the best learning outcomes, in spite of their learning disabilities.
The students can also demand extra time to submit their course assignments and even can ask for a reduced course load. However, the latter may sometimes lead to reduced financial aid as well.
4. Exam Relaxations
The students can also request certain exam time relaxations to ensure a smoother journey.
They are allowed to ask for extra time, which can be as much as an hour and a half. If they suffer from ADHD, they may also ask for a separate room. They can speak to the exam in charge beforehand on the kind of environment they will require to ensure their best output.
Alternatively, they may also request a change in the exam format more suitable to their learning disability from oral to written or vice versa.
5. Disability Specialists and Disability Resource Centers
The University may also have a Disability Specialist resident at the Campus who can guide the students with respect to which accommodations to avail.
For example, if the student suffers from Dyscalculia, they may suggest a major that does not require math so that they can get better grades without Math dragging them down.
The students should also always keep a lookout for the Disability Resource Centers around their college as they often provide various services like offering scribes and recording devices.
The student also needs to be in constant touch with the Disabilities officer at the University to keep them regularly updated about their accommodation needs.
The desire to ‘fit in’ should not lead to compromises in their academic education.
It is important to remember that if you are one of these students, you are asking for aids to overcome shortcomings at birth and not demanding additional privileges.
Overcoming your initial hesitation can encourage many more college students with learning disabilities to overcome the embarrassment they may feel on demanding such accommodations. This in turn will help pave the pathway of a more inclusive society.
Although the IDEA act has gone a long way in legalizing the demand for accommodations for high school students, the American with Disabilities Act has at the most provided equal access to college without discrimination on the basis of disabilities. However, it has not provided due protection to their accommodation demands yet.
Every year more than 200,000 students with learning disabilities enter college and it is important to unite their voices for a more inclusive educational environment, and a world where everyone is provided an arena to explore their potential to the fullest.
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