Sunday, August 22, 2010


Many services are available for e-books. Some are free and easily downloaded. Others have a charge. You must read the copyright regulations prior to your decisions.

Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic was completely switched from tape to CD by June 2007, and now itis free to students. College students simply need to register for services. They will need a contact person at the school to verify your qualifications.

University of Virginia has thousands of e-books available. from Kent State University has a non-commercial repository for eBook research.

Project Gutenburg has many eBooks that are free of charge that will download to Palm Pilot or a computer.

Most publishers also provide e-texts usually with “proof-of-purchase” of text book.

Kindle is now completely accessible

What is Universal Design?

Accommodations for someone with a disability are designed to provide equal access to the material being taught. The more universal the design of our world, the less the need for specialized accommodations. For example, someone in a wheelchair can independently enter a room, locate the seat of choice, and work without additional assistance when doors automatically open and aisles are large enough to pass through. Instead of the old fashioned classroom desks, tables are available for everyone, including the person using a wheelchair. Another example is Closed Captioning which not only helps someone who is deaf but is beneficial to anyone who has a moderate hearing problem or just prefers visual learning to auditory lecture.

In a 21st Century Classroom, you should find the following Universal Design services:

Teacher's Computer Station
Internet Access
DVD Player
Video Tape Player
Elmo Overhead Projector
Large Screen
Amplifier/Microphone System
Closed Captioning

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Do I Need to Tell My Professor What My Disability Is?

In college, you do not usually need to tell the professor what your disability is. How much you reveal about your challenges is up to you. If your issues are health related and may affect your attendance, you need to go over those problems with the Disability Office and follow their recommendations for discussing matters with the professor.

Sometimes the disability issues appear obvious, but not always. I have had students who had obvious physical disabilities, but also had Learning Disabilities that were not so evident. How much you reveal about your disability is something you need to come to terms with. I have known students who don't care what anyone knows, and I have had others who do not want anyone to even know they have a disability.

My recommendation is to speak to the professionals at the Disability Office and discuss your concerns with them. Many times they can talk to a professor about your needs without revealing anything about your disability. If you feel that a professor is asking questions that you do not want to discuss, kindly respond that you are a private person who really does not want to discuss personal things, and then let the people at the Disability Office know about the professor's questions. The Disabilities Office professionals should know how to handle those kinds of situations. If you are still not pleased with things, follow up again. You may need to speak to the Student Services dean about your concerns.

A Common Complaint: "I Didn't Know!"

In high school everybody tells you what you need to do. Parents and teachers remind you constantly about your responsibilities. Did you do your homework? Do you have your papers? You need to go here and do this and that!!

In college, every professor will give you a syllabus. That is your guideline for your classes. It provides class rules, policies and procedures, calendar of assignments and due dates, and grading policy. In essence, a syllabus tells you exactly what the expectations are of the professor.

EVEN IF THE PROFESSOR DID NOT GO OVER EVERY DETAIL ON THE SYLLABUS, YOU HAVE BEEN TOLD! If you didn't read it and follow up with questions, then you did not do your part. If you take a problem to the dean, in most cases, the first question is going to be "What is on the syllabus?" because the dean needs to know what you were told.

As the student, you will be expected to know all due dates and will be expected to keep track of your grades, tests, and assignments. If you have accommodations, you need to discuss those with the professor. You need to make sure that you are on the same page as the professor when it comes to testing accommodations especially when using a separate testing facility. You will quickly learn which professors need to be reminded about the accommodations, and which ones will always be aware of your needs. Remember, most professors have well over 100 students to deal with, and sometimes they forget something that you might need.

What Kind of Documentation Do I Need at College?

Documentation is the paperwork that you provide to the Disabilities Office to show that you have been diagnosed with a disabilty. The form of documenation that your college expects may be different from the required documentation of another college. You need to talk to the people at the Disability Office to get their documentation guidelines. Those guidelines will likely vary from school to school. Some colleges will not take an IEP (Individual Education Plan) from high school; some colleges will use an IEP for basic accommodations. Some colleges expect a current updated Psychological Evaluation with adult norms. For a diagnosis of ADHD, some colleges will take a 504 plan; some colleges will not. Some colleges will request a doctor's letter.

Colleges also provide accommodations for many other types of disabilities including physical and mental health disabilities as well as visual and hearing disabilities. If your diagnosis affects your ability to do the tasks you are given, you may be someone who needs an accommodation. Sometimes pain gets in the way, and you find it hard to concentrate or sit too long. Sometimes your vision makes it hard to read the text. Sometimes your depression makes it hard to focus. You should go talk to someone in the Disabilities Office to see if you qualify for help.

The bottom line is every college sets its own documentation standards, so you need to do your homework and find out the current quidelines at your college!! Colleges want you to be successful in class, but the real question is "Do you have equal access?"

Self-Advocacy at College

I was a high school SLD teacher for 13 years, and I have worked as a college LD Specialist for 14 years. I know both sides of the fence. In high school everyone is telling you what to do...your teachers, your parents, your friends. In college, because you are now the legal adult and the college is governed by FERPA laws, you must handle your concerns and issues yourself. The only way someone at the college can assist you is if you meet them and explain your needs. Disability Services are there for you, but they need you to be your own advocate and talk to them about your situation; otherwise, they will probably not be aware of it!

The first job of the Disability Office is to determine if your problem is disability-related or classroom-related because that makes a difference as to how we proceed and whom you need to talk to about your issues. For example, if an instructor did not provide you with an accommodation that you should have been given (for example, extra time on a test), my first step is to find out if you gave the professor your accommodation paperwork from our department. Again, the college Disability Services personnel will give you the papers with your accommodations, but you will take the accommodations paperwork to the professor to explain your needs - not Disability Services and not your parents!! You must be your own self-advocate in college!! If the office gave you your accommodation paperwork, and you did not follow up with the professor, we probably cannot correct the problem.

If the problem turns out to be a disability-related issue, then the Office of Disability Services will act accordingly, but if the issue is classroom-related (for example, one of your grades was incorrect), then you would follow up with the professor and the academic dean.

The key to all of this is YOU! Talk to the people who can help, but seek your help in a courteous, logical way and follow up as quickly as possible. Don't wait until the end of the semester to bring attention to a problem that has happened earlier in the year! It may be too late!! Understand what help is out there for you and keep in touch with the professionals who can help. Be a self-advocate, and know how the college rules work!

High School to College: What Happens Next?

Every college must provide disability related services; however, each institution establishes its own specific accommodations, and those accommodations are determined from the documentation provided by students who self-identify.

Sometimes students who come to college assume that the high schools have sent the information ahead of time. THAT WILL NOT BE THE CASE!! Students who need services must come in and speak to the Disabilities Office. Your college may use a different department name, but someone is there to help you. If you cannot find the disability department, check with the Student Services department, or go to the dean's office to find out whom you need to meet. You need to follow up. Most of the time, your professors can also suggest a person to talk to. In addition, you can also check the college website for available contacts.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Pronounciation and Word Recognition Help

Another website helpful to someone with Dyslexia is This sight is a dictionary, but each word has a speaker next to it so you can hear the correct pronounciation of any word over and over until you learn it!!

This website is extremely helpful for someone with word recognition and vocabulary problems.

Clicking on the posting title will take you to the website.

Free Text-to-Speech Download

I recommend that my students who have Dyslexia go to two free websites. The first is ReadPlease.

ReadPlease allows you to copy and paste text and have the computer read it to you! They have a more sophisticated program to buy, but the basic program is a free download and is pretty effective!!

This is very helpful for people with Dyslexia or for those of you who prefer to "hear" your text rather than read the text directly from the computer!

Clicking on the posting title will take you to the website.