Supporting Students with Disabilities


29 Sep

Supporting Students with Disabilities

Welcome to the Supporting Students with Disabilities course and resource site. This site has been designed as a resource for postsecondary education faculty and Accessibility Centre/Disability Services Office support staff, tutors, and mentors, particularly in New Brunswick, Canada, but is offered free of charge to anyone, anywhere who has an interest in the subject area.

The site has been developed by the Anglophone postsecondary institutions of New Brunswick, Canada, indicated in the title bar above. It is an English version of a similar online course developed in French by the Université de Moncton.

You can consider this a course made up of 11 modules including an introduction, up-to-date content, case studies, videos of students and instructors talking about their accommodation experiences, and reference material.


Modules

Introduction

The intent of this website is to provide helpful information for instructors in understanding how a wide range of disabilities impact students' learning and assessment environments. The goal of this website is to better equip instructors to support students with disabilities and to identify the institution support entities that provide accommodation assistance to both students and instructors.

This course should provide answers to such questions as:

  • What kinds of disabilities may require accommodation? Why?
  • What are typical accommodations for disabilities?
  • What is the process for setting up accommodation for a student?
  • How will accommodating students impact my work as an instructor?

The information contained in this course has been vetted and verified for accuracy. Some students may have coexisting disabilities. Many disabilities are invisible, and not all students with disabilities will ask for support or accommodation. Accommodation for many types of disabilities takes much less instructor time and effort than is often thought.

Click About This Course for additional background information on the course features and creators.

Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning/Universal Instructional Design (UDL/UID)1 aims to provide an ideal learning environment for all students. UDL/UID is a curriculum design and delivery model focused on providing accessible and inclusive education; however, it is not meant to address only the needs of students with disabilities.

The theory of UDL/UID is based on the premise that each student is a unique learner with a different set of needs, preferences, interests, motivations, prior knowledge, strengths, and limitations. It also assumes that each of these traits has a significant impact on how an individual responds to the learning environment. According to UDL/UID, by considering the variability of diverse learners at the level of curriculum design, it is possible to deliver flexible and responsive learning experiences that simultaneously minimizes barriers and enhances opportunities amongst all learners.

In order to accomplish this goal, UDL/UID relies on a set of core principles that place value on providing options for how information is presented, how students can express what they know (e.g. assessment), and how interest and motivation may be fostered. In addition to these principles, UDL/UID prescribes a welcoming, interactive, and open learning environment where students feel comfortable and encouraged to participate.

In recent years, UDL/UID has been incorporated to varying degrees by many large postsecondary institutions within Canada.

For more information about UDL/UID, please visit www.cast.org or http://accessproject.colostate.edu/udl/.

What is Assistive Technology?

Assistive technology includes hardware or software that assists a person with a disability in using the computer to access print and other electronic material.

Types of assistive technologies include:

  • Screen reader software, which provides an oral translation of the information on the screen
  • Voice recognition software that allows people to navigate with their voice
  • Input devices such as large keyboards, mouse pedals, and ergonomic furniture

Kurzweil 3000

Kurzweil is a comprehensive reading, writing, and learning software product designed for any struggling reader, including individuals with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or those who are English Language Learners. It is available on both Mac and Windows platforms.

It is designed to do the following:

Provide access to any curriculum: The software can access virtually any information, whether it is printed, electronic, or on the Web.

Increase reading fluency: It provides the tools students need to improve their reading speed and comprehension.

Help develop study skills: With the aid of visual and auditory feedback, the software helps students keep up with assigned readings, learn critical study skills, and successfully complete writing projects and tests.

Provide decoding support: It reads the words aloud to the student in clear, human-like, synthetic speech, while a dual highlighting feature adds visual reinforcement.

Inspiration Mind Mapping Software

Inspiration is a visual thinking and learning tool those with a learning disability rely on in order to plan, research and complete projects successfully. With integrated Diagram and Outline Views, learners create graphic organizers and expand topics into writing. It is available on both Mac and Windows platforms.

Inspiration is designed to do the following:

Visualize Ideas, Concepts and Relationships: In Diagram View, you can create graphic organizers including concept maps, webs, and idea maps to analyze, compare, and evaluate information. With symbols, links, and a text and multimedia file, Inspiration makes it easy to express ideas, discover relationships, and develop new thoughts and perspectives.

Improve Writing Proficiency: With a mouse click, you can transform your diagram into a hierarchical outline to further organize and develop your thoughts into written reports. Powerful outlining capabilities help refine the writing structure and expand on ideas and notes. Additional tools support more polished written project and streamlined revisions.

Plan, Organize and Complete Projects: You can use Inspiration to successfully plan and organize projects, assignments, and more. Available tools and options support a variety of learning styles and help complete projects, develop thinking skills, and demonstrate knowledge, making Inspiration the essential tool to visualize, think, organize, and learn.

Dictation Software

Speech recognition (also known as automatic speech recognition or computer speech recognition): Converts spoken words to text. The term "voice recognition" is sometimes used to refer to recognition systems that must be trained to a particular speaker, as is the case for most desktop recognition software. Recognizing the speaker can simplify the task of translating speech.

Speed and accuracy: With speech recognition software you can turn your voice into text three times faster than most people type. Just start talking, and the software will recognize your voice instantly, with up to 99% accuracy. It takes only minutes of training to get started, and accuracy will continually improve the more you use the software.

Accessibility: Using speech recognition takes away the mechanical aspects of typing. As speech recognition has improved over the years, more and more people with articulation and pronunciation difficulties can use the software to complete daily tasks.

Other Assistive Technology

In addition to Kurzweil 3000, Inspiration, and dictation software, other very useful assistive software also includes:

  • JAWS (Windows screen reader)
  • ZoomText (Windows screen magnifier)
  • Kurzweil 1000 (Windows text-to-speech for the visually impaired)
  • PCs and Macs with large screen monitors
  • Scanners for capturing text, USB headphones for listening, portable and stationary electronic video magnifiers (CCTV)

Resources
The New Brunswick Disability Executives' Network (NBDEN)

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