Information and Resources
Online training materials
“Hidden/Invisible Disabilities” Online faculty instructional module offered by the University of Hawaii’s Students with Disabilities as Diverse Learners (SDDL) project.
Other online resources
Disability History Museum: Searchable collections of documents on a variety of subjects related to the experiences of persons with a disability in the US. Also offers several lesson modules on specific topics in American history.
Disability Resources, a vast clearinghouse of web-based resources on hundreds of topics maintained by a nonprofit organization.
Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology (DO-IT): Faculty Room. Probably the single most useful site for a wide spectrum of disability-related topics for post-secondary faculty.
- Specific Disability Resources links to resources for a number of disability labels, such as blindness, low vision, mobility impairments, and health impairments.
- “Working Together: Science Teachers and Students with Disabilities.”
- “Working Together: Teaching Assistants and Students with Disabilities.”
Embry, Pat, Sally Scott, and Joan Maguire. “Introduction to Disabilities: A Resource for Administrators, College and University Faculty, Learning Specialists and Service Providers.” (PDF) Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut, 2002. This handbook offers concise information regarding specific disability categories, helpful resources on each, and links to online handbooks for faculty working with students with a disability.
“Invisible Disabilities and Postsecondary Education.” Produced by DO-IT, this 18-minute video features students with a range of invisible disabilities, discusses the process of arranging for accommodations, and introduces the universal design approach to course construction.
Making your Teaching Inclusive: A website of The Open University, UK, with a focus on removing barriers for students with a disability.
United Spinal Association, “Disability Etiquette: Tips on Interacting with People with Disabilities” (PDF).
University of California at Berkeley, Disabled Students Program. “Suggestions on Teaching Students with Disabilities.” This link takes you to the general recommendations section of the page, then proceeds to address a variety of specific types of disability. Links at the top of the page give access to each topic.
Information and Resources on Particular Disabilities
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Students with ADHD may come across as uninterested, lacking in discipline, or just plain lazy, but it would be incorrect to assume they are any of those things. ADHD is a clinically-defined and legally recognized disability related to brain function. To find out more about the disorder, the functional limitations that commonly accompany it, and strategies for designing learning environments that are inclusive of students with ADHD, open Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.
Faculty who work with a student with Asperger syndrome (AS) need to understand the types of support – in both academic and social dimensions – that student may require. To learn about the functional limitations and the advantages that a student with AS may bring to your course, along with strategies that take those into account, go to Asperger Syndrome.
In courses taught with conventional print materials and lectures accompanied by PowerPoint slides, students with blindness or low vision will encounter barriers to success. The most important step that faculty can take to give those students equal access to the educational opportunities they offer is to provide an alternative way to get information that is being communicated in a visual modality (e.g., via text, diagram, model, PowerPoint, video, or animation). Students with blindness or low vision will also benefit from universally designed features like capture or digital recording of lectures and the posting of PowerPoint slides, lecture notes, or student notes on Blackboard.
For further discussion of these measures, consult Blindness/Low Vision.
Students who have a chronic illness may experience a disability as a result of their condition. Unlike many other disabilities, however, the limitations that impact their academic success may come and go over time. This means that they may begin the semester feeling relatively well, then experience a flare-up, relapse, or other change in health status. To learn more about issues related to chronic illness and disability, download Chronic Illness.
Deafness/ Hard of Hearing
Traditional college pedagogy presupposes that students will learn through two primary activities: reading and listening. This obviously creates a disabling learning environment for those who cannot see or hear adequately. Students who are deaf or hard of hearing, moreover, will be specially impacted in the realm of social interactions that take place inside and outside the classroom among students and between students and faculty. For information about working with deaf/hard of hearing students, read Deafness/Hearing Impairments.
The most common type of disability among students registered with DRS is learning disability. Each learning disability affects disparate aspects of cognitive processing, and each student with a learning disability will encounter a unique set of challenges. Faculty who understand some of the functional limitations that a student with a learning disability may face can structure their courses to provide options that allow students with a learning disability to work around their own limitations. Download Learning Disabilities for information and resources.
There are many origins and causes of disabilities affecting mobility and/or dexterity, including amputation, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, arthritis, and muscular dystrophy, and broken bones. The two most common categories of function that are affected are the ability to move from place to place and the ability to make precise movements with one’s hands, as in writing and keyboarding. Mobility and Dexterity Disabilities explains how faculty may anticipate or respond to some of the issues faced by students with limited mobility and/or dexterity.
Like their colleagues with chronic physical illness, students who have a mental illness may face two sources of limitations that affect their academic work: the underlying condition, and the side-effects of one or more medications that treat it. Psychiatric Disabilities identifies specific barriers that may confront a student with a psychiatric disability, and suggests ways faculty can minimize those barriers.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Although some individuals sustain serious injury to their brains during childhood, the likelihood of encountering a student with traumatic brain injury (TBI) in your classes at Temple will probably increase as more veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan return to school. A recent New York Times article places the current number of returning service members with TBI at 400,000.
The severity and effects of brain injuries vary from case to case, so students with TBI may seek different accommodations. However, there is a variety of features that faculty can build into their courses to minimize barriers that students with TBI are likely to encounter. Please read further in Traumatic Brain Injury.