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Faculty Awareness and Training in the Post-Secondary Community: An Annotated Bibliography

York University

Toronto, Ontario

Learning Disabilities: Information for Faculty Members

Newsletter

This four-page newsletter was prepared by Marc Wilchesky, Coordinator of York's learning disabilities program. It begins with a definition of learning disabilities, and outlines areas where students with learning disabilities might face difficulties. An emphasis is placed on the fact that learning disabilities are not a form of "mental retardation", emotional disturbance or laziness. The causes of learning disabilities are also briefly outlined, as is the 15-year history of York's learning disabilities program.

The document then discusses considerations for those teaching students with learning disabilities. It details factors that could indicate the presence of a learning disability. It is stressed that while the factors listed don't automatically point to a learning disability, students should be encouraged to explore support services offered for academic difficulties.

Finally, 10 accommodation tips are listed for faculty to consider, as well as some appropriate course materials to use with students with learning disabilities and suitable test and exam accommodations.

While this document does effectively introduce learning disabilities and possible accommodation methods, clearly more discussion is needed for faculty to properly understand the disability and how to best work with students.

Contact:
Dr. Marc Wilchesky
Counselling and Development Centre
Behavioural Sciences Building, Room l45
York University
4700 Keele Street
North York, Ontario
M3J lP3
Phone: 4l6-736-5297 ext. 3409
Email: mwilchesky@yorku.ca
Web site: www.yorku.ca/admin/sa/offdis/


York University

Toronto, Ontario

Faculty Resources and Awareness Guide: Teaching Students with Disabilities

Online Guidebook

This edition was published in January, 1999 by the Division of Student Affairs.

This extensive, well-written guidebook begins with a letter stating that "No single faculty member will ever need to know everything within these pages, but most faculty members will need to know something contained herein."

Following the introductory letter is information on both the Ontario Human Rights Code and York senate policy, relating to persons with disabilities. This section also provides information on some of the services and offices available to students at York, information that is expanded upon in the following sections.

A section of information from the university's Office for Persons with Disabilities begins with a note detailing some of the accommodations students with disabilities may need during their academic careers, from pre-university advising and orientation, to scribes, to exam adaptations. The section then goes on to offer general accommodation suggestions for faculty, noting that needs can vary for each student. Short lists of possible accommodations are given for mobility and visual impairments, and 'systemic' disabilities such as AIDS and Epilepsy. The part of this section dealing with hearing impairments is more extensive, providing general accommodation suggestions as well as additional tips on presenting to a class that includes students with hearing impairments, problems faced with written work, and detailed information on the duties and acceptable conduct of interpreters and note-takers.

A section on support services for persons with Traumatic Brain Injury briefly describes the problems faced by such students, and the need for instructors to make an effort to understand TBI.

Section six provides information on learning disabilities, and the learning disabilities program at York. A definition is given, as are some of the difficulties that may be faced by students with learning disabilities. A paragraph discusses some of the factors that may indicate the presence of a learning disability, and tells instructors to encourage students they feel may have a learning disability to meet with a counsellor. The section also lists tips on how to accommodate students with learning disabilities in class and on exams, and a student profile effectively illustrates how such accommodations can help students succeed.

The next section looks at the psychiatric disabilities program at York, and gives information on mental illness in students. Problems that can be faced, and the need for support and understanding, are emphasized. Some accommodations are briefly listed, and another student profile is included, showing how accommodations can help students with psychiatric disabilities.

A section about York's libraries provides a list of campus libraries and describes their levels of physical access. Finally, information on adaptive technology available at each library is listed. A section on organizations available on and off-campus provides additional resource information.

While this document is somewhat limited in disability-specific background information, it offers many good accommodation suggestions and additional academic-related disability information (especially with regard to hearing impairments). The material is presented with some interesting approaches, specifically the useful student profiles included in a couple of sections. The information on services available on and off-campus is invaluable to both instructors and students.

Contact:
Karen Swartz
Office For Students With Disabilities
York University
4700 Keele Street, 109 Central Square
North York, Ontario
M3J 1P3
Phone: 416-736-5140
TTY: 416-736-5263
Email: kswartz@yorku.ca
Web site: http://www.yorku.ca/admin/sa/offdis/


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