The Other Side of Disabilities
The Office for Students with Disabilities
Division of Student Affairs
Volume III, Issue 3 April 2002 Editor: James Walborn
HONORING DEDICATED VOLUNTEERS
The Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) is hosting a banquet sponsored by Student Government to honor our volunteers for the 2001-2002 academic year. Volunteers who have assisted the OSD during the year, and those who may be interested in volunteering in the future, are invited to attend–and we welcome you.
We will be feasting New Orleans style, with a Mardi Gras theme, on Wednesday, April 10, 2002 from 6:00 to 7:30 PM in the Live Oak Pavilion. Faculty, staff, volunteers, and prospective volunteers interested in attending need to RSVP the OSD immediately at (561) 297-3880, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On March 19, the Davie campus hosted Disability Awareness Day, in which students and the public were offered good food and entertainment while learning about the wide scope and variety of disabilities. Non-profit agencies throughout Broward county were represented, and comedian Kenny Johnson, who is visually impaired, entertained.
I NTERVIEWING JOHN
John is in the Educational Research and Technology Masters program. He works part time in the computer lab in the Education Building, helping students with their questions about computers. One might not realize that he has a disability.
“When I was fifteen years old I had a stroke at the beach, which resulted in permanent and partial loss of use of my right arm and hand. I'm also sure that some learning capabilities have been lost, but I have no idea how much,” acknowledges John.
“I was devastated and for the immediate years following I had problems coming to grips with the reality of my newly limited situation,” John admits. “Jobs were hard to come by.”
“Fortunately, because of the support of my family and friends, I confronted the challenge,” John stated. He started doing small jobs for his mother in her Real Estate Business. “It became apparent to me that this might be something I could learn,” so John studied and passed the Real Estate licensing exam.
In 1990, John decided to return to school. He enrolled in community college, and subsequently two universities, earning a Bachelors Degree in Business at FAU. Upon earning his Master’s degree, he hopes to work for a computer firm.
John is the single parent of an active first grader. “Jordan always makes life worth living and I could not see a day go by without him! He is sent straight from God,” John testifies. For recreation, they play soccer, baseball, and go swimming.
When asked our habitual Anything unusual in the fridge question, John methodically proceeded to list everything, all of it being simple healthy food.
Knowing John, it will not surprise you that he also volunteers his time at his church and his son’s grade school. “I sincerely feel that every day given to me is not only a gift but an opportunity to be a better man than I was yesterday.” Wow!
Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the U. S. You can find more information on the web at www.strokeassociation.org.
In conjunction with the American Association of Publishers, the various agencies for the blind have produced legislation which will result in the provision of total electronic access to any elementary or secondary textbook produced in the U. S. This Federal mandate declares that every state must develop a plan so that students requiring textbooks and a specialized format must have the right to receive them at the same time that non-disabled students receive their print copies. Unfortunately, this does not cover textbooks produced for post-secondary educational purposes.
TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is an injury to the brain caused by external force to the skull. Although there are often physical manifestations of the injury, many times the effects are subtle cognitive, emotional, and/or social changes. Most moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries lead to long-standing problems with deficits in communication, language functioning, visual- motor skills, and/or attention and memory.
The student with a brain injury who has no obvious physical problems will often appear to be able to resume a normal course of study. However, cognitive and/or behavioral changes may necessitate some accommodations to the student’s educational programming.
A student’s accommodations are determined by how the disability impacts him/her in a academic setting. Some examples include notetaking assistance, tape recording of lectures, and/or use of a calculator/spellchecker. Test adaptations might include extended time, use of computer, and/or a distraction- reduced setting.
Professors will be notified of the accommodations a student will utilize in a letter from the OSD. These services are necessary for ensuring complete access and participation in the education process.
Academic standards are not to belowered, nor should there be an alteration in the essential nature of the degree requirements.
SUGGESTIONS FOR FACULTY
Perhaps more than with any other disability, each individual with TBI presents a different picture, so the strategies the faculty will use will vary upon circumstances.
Here are some strategies that faculty members may want to consider that will benefit not only students with a TBI, but all students:
* Provide a detailed course syllabus as soon as possible after the course begins.
* Repeat or rephrase important points.
* Use concrete examples, visual aids, and/or hands-on materials as often as possible to illustrate key concepts.
* When asking questions in class, allow extra “wait time” before expecting a response from the student.
* Break projects and lab assignments into smaller components.
* Eliminate time constraints as much as possible. The student may need additional time for thought processing and word retrieval during exams and discussions.
* Encourage the use of organizational aids, such as daily planners, calendars, and lists.
* It is recommended that student should sit in a distraction reduced area in the classroom.
* If certain behaviors are problematic, such as calling out answers, it may be helpful to consult with OSD regarding ways to alleviate these concerns.
We want to encourage comments and contributions from our readers. Please address any comments to email@example.com. Feel free to share this newsletter with friends and colleagues. Current and past issues are available at http://www.fau.edu/osd.
This newsletter is available in alternate format upon request from the Office for Students with Disabilities. Boca: SU 133; phone 561.297.3880, TTY 561.297.0358. Davie: MD I, Room 104; phone 954.236.1222, TTY 954.236.1146. Jupiter: SR 117; phone 561.799.8585, TTY 561.799.8565. Treasure Coast: JU 312; phone 772.873.3441.