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Teaching Disabled Students

The number of students with disabilities is growing rapidly in America's colleges and universities. Nationally, the percentage of college freshmen with disabilities has increased steadily from 2.6 percent in 1978 to 8.8 percent in 1991. Federal legislation mandates that the college provide academic accommodations when needed to ensure that otherwise qualified students with disabilities have educational opportunities that are equal to those of their non-disabled peers.

Studies show that faculty and staff members who have interactions with students who have disabilities generally have a more positive attitude about working with these students. Additionally, those who are familiar with accommodation strategies are better prepared to make arrangements that will ensure that students with disabilities have equal opportunities to participate in their programs. Finally, the students' own suggestions and ideas, based on experience with their disability and with school work are valuable resources in accommodating disabilities in college. It is beneficial for faculty members to make a general announcement at the first class meeting inviting students who feel they may need accommodations due to a disability to make an appointment with them or visit the office of Services for Individuals with Disabilities. Such a statement would also be effective in a course syllabus.