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Archive for the ‘learning disabilities’ Category

More colleges welcome students with intellectual disabilities

Monday, October 18th, 2010

From AP/Boston Herald:

While college programs for students with intellectual disabilities were almost nonexistent as recently as a decade ago, there are now more than 250 of them spread across campuses in more than three dozen states and two Canadian provinces.

Experts say the change has come about in response to demand from the first generation of students with disabilities who got full access to education in their local school districts, a right guaranteed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

New federal funding rules, which will allow students with intellectual disabilities to receive grants and work-study money, are expected to prompt the creation of even more programs.

Disability advocates say the programs will help students get better jobs, even if they do not earn degrees. Critics call the programs a waste of tax dollars, and charge that they devalue the college experience of students without disabilities.

For more information, see Think College at the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Anne Ford: ADA brought disabilities out of the shadows

Monday, July 26th, 2010

When her now-adult daughter was born, Anne Ford writes at AOL.com, society’s answer to the problems of people with disabilities was to avoid acknowledging them.  That all began to change when President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act twenty years ago, she says. In that moment,

… we as a country told our disabled citizens that they too belonged to our nation’s family, and that their skills, their talents and their lives were valued.

Disabilities came out of the shadows. People began to talk openly and understand, and most important, to accept. Today the idea of a person in a wheelchair stopping conversation and getting looks of disapproval for entering a restaurant is inconceivable.

As for learning disabilities, more and more young people with LD are successfully transitioning out of high school into the workplace or college because they have access to accommodations such as extra time for tests and note takers. Before the ADA, these accommodations did not exist.

… An estimated 15 million Americans have a learning disability, but thanks to the ADA, we have learned that with understanding and acceptance, with simple and usually inexpensive accommodations and with the protections afforded by the ADA, people with disabilities can succeed.

Author Anne Ford is the chairman of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. She has written three books about her journey as the mother of a daughter with learning disabilities.

Advice for parents who wonder: Is it a learning disability?

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

Lesley Alderman, writing in the New York Times, offers a roadmap for parents who suspect their child might have a learning disability. While schools are legally obligated to assess children for learning disabilities, Alderman says, “what the law promises and what the schools can realistically provide are sometimes at odds.”

“The law was created with the idea that parents and schools would collaborate on their child’s education,” says Neal Rosenberg, an education lawyer in Manhattan who worked for the New York City Board of Education when the law was first drafted. “But the relationship can sometimes turn adversarial.”

Alderman suggests that parents press for an assessment as early as possible, document their requests, be knowledgeable about their legal rights, and consider talking with a lawyer.

Bypassing the school assessment process can be effective but expensive, Alderman says, as private assessments can cost up to $5,000.

Student with disabilities wins fight to live in college dorm

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Oakland University violated federal law by excluding him, judge rules

From the Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Oakland [MI] Press:

A federal judge has ruled that Michigan’s Oakland University has violated the federal Rehabilitation Act by failing to allow a student with a cognitive impairment to live in a campus dorm. An Oakland spokesman said the university will appeal the ruling, but will allow the young man to live on campus during the process.

U.S. District Judge Patrick J. Duggan ordered Oakland to make a room available to 25-year-old Micah Fialka-Feldman, who has been taking classes in the school’s OPTIONS program. Fialka-Feldman pays a fee equal to full tuition but doesn’t earn grades in the program, which is designed for students with cognitive disabilities who would not otherwise be able to meet the university’s admissions requirements.

The university has maintained that Fialka-Feldman, who takes buses two hours a day to get to class from his parents’ home, is not eligible for a dorm room because he’s not enrolled in a degree-granting program.

Duggan said the university’s assumption that the young man would be unable to follow housing rules “appears to be grounded on prejudice, stereotypes and/or unfounded fear.”

Earlier posts here.

(Detroit News photo)

Officials: Ottawa suspension report used skewed data

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

From the Ottawa [Canada] Citizen:

Ottawa school district officials are throwing out a report released this week, saying it contained flawed data. The report concluded that suspensions for students with special needs had risen dramatically in the past year.

Superintendent Walter Piovesan said some students with multiple diagnoses had apparently been counted twice.

The report had spurred criticism from disability advocates, who accused the board of suspending children “for being autistic.”

In Ottawa, suspensions rising for kids with special needs

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

From the Ottawa [Canada] Citizen:

Suspensions of students with special needs in the Ottawa public schools have risen by more than 56 percent over the past year, while suspensions for all students dropped almost 30 percent over the same time period. In all, some 16 percent of students with special needs had been suspended over the past year.

The figures were included in a report to be discussed by the board of education’s Special Education Advisory Committee Wednesday. The “special needs” category covered students with behavioral issues, learning disabilities, autism and mild intellectual disabilities, as well as kids who had been identified as gifted.

“The kids who need help the most are the ones getting suspended,” said a former special education teacher who now serves as an advocate for students who had been suspended.

Amazon announces plans to modify Kindle

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

From the Associated Press/MSNBC:

Amazon.com Inc. has announced that it will add two features to the Kindle that are intended to make the e-book reader more accessible to users who are blind or have limited vision.

The company has come under fire from disability advocacy groups for allowing publishers to opt out of a read-aloud feature on the device that converts text to robotic speech. They say the decision will unfairly limit access for the estimated 15 million Americans who have difficulty reading printed material, including people with limited vision; dyslexia; learning or processing issues; seniors; people with spinal cord injuries, and people who have had strokes.

Amazon said it is developing audible menus and an extra-large font for people with limited vision.

Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y., and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have said they will not adopt the device until it is accessible to all students. The National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind have launched legal challenges to the use of Kindle for distribution of textbooks.

Earlier posts here.

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More than 50 million people in the United States have disabilities, a number that is growing rapidly as the population ages. Experts say disability will soon affect the lives of most Americans. This website attempts to aggregate news and commentary about disability, and to document the efforts of people who are seeking new ways to address familiar challenges.

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