Types of Disabilities & Common Accommodations
Types of Disabilities
With the exception of temporary conditions, the below categories of diagnoses are permanent. While there may be periods of flare-ups/remission, change in severity or need for treatment, individuals with the following conditions retain the diagnosis for life.
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
AD/HD is characterized by difficulty focusing, forgetfulness, fidgeting, distractibility, impulsivity and inattention.
Auditory impairments result in hearing deficits. Based on the degree of hearing deficit, individuals are either hard of hearing or deaf. Students may use a range of assistive devices, including hearing aids and cochlear implants. Deaf or hard of hearing students may also read lips. It is crucial to note that students who read lips have an accuracy of 65% of obtaining the information being provided.
Chronic Medical Illness
The nature of chronic conditions varies widely and can include flare-ups, periods of remission, and the need for regular or frequent treatment. Side effects of many treatments can also result in further functional limitations. Examples of chronic illnesses include:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Sickle Cell Anemia
- Spina Bifida
- Ulcerative Colitis
Dyslexia & Dyscalculia
Often labeled as Specific Learning Disorder, dyslexia and dyscalculia refer to difficulties in reading/writing and in math respectively. Both disorders are characterized by difficulty processing and/or reproducing written or mathematical content.
Neurological conditions may include but are not limited to Autism Spectrum Disorder, Visual Processing Disorder, and Auditory Processing Disorder. The severity and the specific functional limitations vary widely.
Affects the ability to move part or all of the body. May be limited to upper or lower limbs or result in the need of a wheelchair. Mobility difficulties may be a stand-alone diagnosis, part of a chronic condition, or a temporary condition.
Psychological diagnoses may result in mental and/or behavioral limitation(s). Common conditions include:
- Bipolar Disorder
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Visual impairments may be partial vision loss, total lack of sight, or visual sensitivity. Vision deficits are categorized as partially sighted, low vision, legally blind, or completely blind. An individual does not have to be totally blind to be legally blind.
Temporary conditions are those with a limited duration, commonly resulting from accident/injury or surgery. Accommodations are set to expire when no longer needed or at the end of a semester, based on student intake meeting. Students may extend temporary accommodations as needed.
The most common accommodations are:
- Extended test time.
- Provide a testing environment with minimal distraction.
- Permission to audio-record class lectures.
- Electronic copies of posted slides/lecture notes and handouts.
- Provide seating arrangements.
All accommodations are determined based upon appropriate documentation and student interview. The above list is not exhaustive; further and/or specific accommodations may apply depending on a) the diagnosis, and b) the severity of the diagnosis.
Accommodations may also apply for temporary situations, i.e., a broken limb, one-time surgery, or temporary medical treatment. It is expected that the student communicates with their professor(s) in all situations, chronic or temporary, to arrange provision of accommodations.