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Meeting the Needs of our Students with Disabilities. Visual Impairment Learning Disability Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Definition and Classifications of Visual Impairment. An impairment in vision that, even when corrected, adversely affects an individual’s educational performance

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Meeting the needs of our students with disabilities

Meeting the Needs of our Students with Disabilities

Visual ImpairmentLearning DisabilityAttention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Definition and classifications of visual impairment
Definition and Classifications of Visual Impairment

  • An impairment in vision that, even when corrected, adversely affects an individual’s educational performance

  • Partially sighted

  • Low vision

  • Legally blind

  • Totally blind

  • Congenital or acquired

Vision loss categories
Vision Loss Categories


    • Poor visual acuity (20/70); very limited field of vision (20 degrees)

    • Can read enlarged, magnified print


    • Unable to read a newspaper at a normal viewing distance even with correction


    • Visual acuity of 20/200; very limited field of vision (less than 20 degrees)


    • Inability to recognize a strong light directly in eyes

    • Must use Braille or other non-visual media to learn


  • Motor development delays due to restricted motor activity

  • Social and emotional delays – much is learned through observation and imitation

  • Intellectual delays – so much of the learning process is visual

  • Self stimulatory behaviors (blindisms)

Specific learning disability
Specific Learning Disability

  • A disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, write, spell or perform mathematical calculations (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)

    • Deficit lies within the central nervous system

    • Affects how an individual learns, not how well they learn

    • Many possess normal intelligence, but academic performance lags behind peers

    • Hidden disability

Types o f learning disorders
Types of Learning Disorders

Problems with:

  • Arithmetic (discalculia)

  • Reading (dyslexia)

  • Handwriting (disgraphia)

  • Spelling

  • Understanding and/or using verbal and nonverbal abilities (developmental aphasia, expressive language)

Incidence cause
Incidence & Cause

  • 3 to 15 % of the population depending on number of characteristics in definition

  • Vast majority (70-90%) are male

  • Incidence in schools has tripled since 1970’s


    • Neurologically based, but of an unknown origin


  • Neurophysiological deficits

  • Sensory input processing deficits

  • Problems processing information

  • Language deficits

  • Memory deficits – short and long term

  • Short attention span

  • Difficulty staying organized

  • Avoid reading and writing tasks

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

  • ADD and ADHD fall within same category and are defined as a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by inattentiveness, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity

  • 3 types

  • Males are diagnosed 4 times more frequently than females

  • Causes are unknown – believed to be genetic

  • Involves prefrontal cortex, basal ganglia, and cerebellum

Adhd characteristics
ADHD Characteristics

  • Avoids activities requiring sustained application, mental effort, concentration

  • Messy and/or partially completed work

  • May appear to be daydreaming, inattentive

  • Trouble “reading” social situations, thus causing out of turn comments, conversations at inappropriate times

Characteristics adhd and add
Characteristics – ADHD and ADD

ADHD - Inattentive

ADHD – Hyperactive-Impulsive


Makes careless mistakes – rush through things without thinking

Poor listening

No follow through on instruction

Difficulty organizing tasks

Loses things necessary for tasks

Easily distracted



Fidgets in seat

Leaves seat often


On the go

Talks excessively

Blurts out answers before question is complete

Interrupts others

Higher education
Higher Education

  • In college:

    • Instruction is faster

    • Study skills are needed

    • Critical thinking is required

    • There are more and larger comprehensive assignments

    • Independent thought required

    • Ability to multitask needed

Students with disabilities
Students with Disabilities

  • Many SWD entering college are not prepared to cope with the rigors of higher education

    • For some, it could be due to a poor transition plan in high school

    • Required by age 16 by IDEA, but states slow and inconsistent in implementation; may not involve student

  • Many SWD lack one or more of the following skills:

    • Time management

    • Empowerment

    • Self-advocacy – do not take initiative

    • Confidence

    • Security

Hong, Ivy, Gonzalez, & Ehrensberger, 2007; National Council on Disability, 2003; Oesterreich & Knight, 2008

Lack of skills
Lack of Skills

  • Poor problem solving, evaluation, monitoring, and communication skills

  • Communication of their needs

  • Recognition of strengths and weaknesses

  • Difficulties with multitasking

  • Struggle distinguishing between pertinent and irrelevant info

  • Some students enter college with reading skills at least 3 years below their last grade level

Hong, Ivy, Gonzalez, & Ehrensberger, 2007; Tincani, 2004

Higher ed faculty
Higher Ed Faculty

  • Many educators may not have prior experience working with individuals with disabilities, thus unaware of how to meet their needs

    • SWD thus feel isolated, misunderstood

  • There is a lack of collaboration between faculty and campus support services for SWD

  • We need to understand the challenges these students face and their possible inability to cope with demands

  • We provide accommodations, not treatment

Barrett, 1997; Hong, Ivy, Gonzalez, & Ehrensberger, 2007; Prentice, 2002; Tincani, 2004

Questions to ask
Questions to Ask

  • We must provide reasonable accommodations

    • We each decide how to carry these out

  • A few questions for educators to ask:

  • To what extent can this student meet the specific task(s)?

  • What is this student’s current level of learning ability?

  • Does s/he understand what is being taught?

  • Does s/he know how to study?

Hong, Ivy, Gonzalez, & Ehrensberger, 2007

Keeping it fair and realistic
Keeping it Fair and Realistic

  • Meet with the SWD and work out a plan

  • Ask them:

    • What it is you need to be successful in this class?

    • What can I do to help?

    • In what subjects do you experience success?

    • Why were you successful?

    • What do you consider your strengths? Your weaknesses?

    • What do you specifically do to prepare for class or a test?

  • Offer multiple learning tools to all students

  • Ultimately, we are preparing these students for the work world

    • Gradually withdraw supports

    • They have to take responsibility

Hodge & Preston-Sabin, 1997

Teaching strategies for vi
Teaching Strategies for VI

  • Utilize perceptual motor components

    • Explain (auditory) and demonstrate

      • Avoid terms “look” and “see”

      • Be very descriptive

    • Provide kinesthetic and tactile stimulation - manually guide student through activity

  • Address the student by name

  • Position students in the front

  • Select activities for both sighted and non-sighted students

  • Utilize peers

Auxter, Pyfer, & Huettig, 2005

Teaching tips
Teaching Tips

  • Academic adjustments

    • Don’t change curriculum, just modify it to create an even playing field

  • Provide optimal support and opportunity for ALL learners

  • Clarify directions and expectations

  • Be flexible

  • Respect student confidentiality

  • Encourage students to participate

  • Help students understand their responsibilities

  • Help students to acknowledge their efforts – ownership

    • Positive reinforcement and feedback

  • Provide different and more assessments

    • Often 2 tests and a paper a nightmare for these students

    • Oral exams

    • Allow student to put answers next to questions

Hong, Ivy, Gonzalez, & Ehrensberger, 2007; Prentice, 2002

Teaching tips1
Teaching Tips

  • Meet environmental needs (seating, comfort, can they hear/see, etc.)

  • Allow more time to complete work; start tests early

  • Be consistent

  • Change activities often

    • Lecture can be difficult for these students

  • Utilize a multiple sensory approach

    • Visual, tactile, kinesthetic, auditory

  • Break tasks down into smaller components

  • Allow students to take breaks during exams

  • Integrate study skills into coursework

    • Teach them how to outline chapters and write study questions

Hong, Ivy, Gonzalez, & Ehrensberger, 2007; Lavay, 2005; Prentice, 2002

Teaching tips2
Teaching Tips

  • Syllabus

    • Accommodation statement; keep communication link open

  • Active student responding (observable behavior)

    • Peer tutoring

    • Response cards

    • Remedial activities for low test scores

    • Fluency building (SAFMEDS)

      • Say all facts a minute each day shuffled

  • By meeting their needs, you are meeting ALL students’ needs

Prentice, 2002; Tincani, 2004