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Teaching Students with Disabilities

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Students come in all shapes and sizes. As instructors, we need to be sensitive to their individual differences and needs. Some of these differences come in the form of physical and learning disabilities.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 define a disability as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities." Major life activities include the ability to perform functions such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, or taking care of oneself. Disabilities can be visible, or invisible, such as in the case of learning disabilities.

Presently, approximately three percent of Purdue's student population has a documented disability. The law is clear in stating that the University MUST make both its physical facilities and programs accessible. The Office of the Dean of Students is responsible for obtaining the appropriate documentation verifying a student's disability. Once this is done, an Adaptive Programs Specialist will work with the student in identifying what classroom accommodations and/or adjustments are necessary to facilitate the student's ability to meet the course requirements. You will receive a letter from an Adaptive Programs Specialist or from the student him/herself outlining the accommodations that they are requesting that you make in order for the student to learn.

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