Guest Blogger: Cathy DeCourcey
In public education today, the general education teacher should expect to teach students with disabilities, students for whom English is a second language, students with special talents, as well as “typical” learners. Similarly, in higher education, increasing numbers of students with disabilities appear in our classes. What then, does a professor do with a student who has a disability?
Our attitudes about difference and disability have significant impact on our students’ success. Does our attitude suggest an openness so that students feel confident in disclosing their special needs? Does our attitude suggest that there are more ways to learn or demonstrate knowledge? What beliefs do we have, personally/professionally about disability and difference?
A student with a learning disability CAN learn the same content as a student without a disability. However, that individual might require accommodations to be able to demonstrate such. Providing accommodations isn’t about “special privileges” for someone; it’s about providing access.
Think about going for a driver’s license. There’s the written part of the test, the driving part of the test, and finally the vision part of the test. For the privileged few who have excellent, uncorrected vision, I can assure you that if you fail the vision section, no driver’s license! Even if I am successful with the written part, I can’t get behind the wheel without correcting my vision. (At least that’s the theory!)
When a student with a disability submits a letter from Services for Students with Disabilities that recommends accommodations such as additional time for testing or note-taker, that student seeks access to learning, not special privileges. Think of those accommodations as the corrective lens through which they can learn more effectively.