Learning Disabilities, Attention Deficit Disorders, and Related Disabilities
Many students with disabilities such as learning difficulties or attention-based disorders may not require specific classroom accommodations. For example, such students may be registered for a course that does not have any in-class exams so the student will not require extended exam time. It may still be helpful to work with the instructor to discuss strategies to improve learning and mastery of course content. While these are not formal accommodations mandated by law, they are beneficial steps that can help students achieve academic success.
- Ask the instructor to discuss your progress and any questions or concerns about course content or assignments.
- Ask the instructor to clarify instructions on assignments/projects to ensure that you understand what is required.
- Ask the instructor to assist you with developing a time frame for completing projects. Try to get a general idea of the average time for completing specific projects.
- Ask the instructor to help you break large projects into smaller segments. This will help you understand the various steps that will lead to overall completion of the project.
Remind the instructors a week or so before each exam if you have testing accommodations, such as extended time. This will avoid any last-minute confusion.
Talking with Instructors
Approach instructors with a sense of confidence that your accommodation needs are important and that the instructor is there to help you.
Find out your instructor's office hours and make an appointment as soon as possible. If it is not possible to meet an instructor during office hours, approach the instructor after class (it is not a good idea to approach an instructor at the start of class, as this is a very busy time and you may not receive the full attention you need). Introduce yourself and let the instructor know you would like to talk to him or her about an important and confidential matter.
An example of what you might say to initiate this meeting is:
- "Hello, my name is _____ and I am in your class. I am wondering if I can meet with you privately to discuss some important issues related to my participation in your class."
- If you are comfortable enough and/or if there are no other students around, you can say:
- "Hello, my name is_____. I have a disability and am going to require some academic accommodations in your class. I met with the director of disability services and we developed a letter for you that outlines my needs. Is there a good time to meet to go over these accommodations?"
If you are comfortable sharing the nature of your disability, you may do so. However, you are not required to disclose the nature of your disability; only your academic requests. Be sure to remind the instructor that this is information you would like to keep between the two of you. Keep in mind that you may be the first person with a particular disability that an instructor has had in their class. This can be an important educational experience for an instructor.
If you are not comfortable sharing the nature of your disability and the instructor wants to know what your disability is, you can say, "I am not comfortable sharing that specific information with you. But I am willing to talk about the accommodations and how they will be provided."
If an instructor informs you that he/she is not willing or able to provide a specific accommodation or all of the accommodations you requested, let the Student Disability Services office know as soon as possible.
Get in the habit of reminding your instructors a week or so before each exam if you have testing accommodations such as extra time. This will help ensure that proper accommodations are provided.