As I am sure you know EHA (Education for all Handicapped Children) was passed in 1975. It was renamed in 1990 -IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Among other things it provided for services under the IEP and the 504 Plans. Services are approved through age 21. However, reasonable services are extended if a person attends a university or college.
With the said, what are reasonable services? If you are a student or a parent of a student, you are probably aware of the standard services offered – extended time for tests, note taking assistance, scribe, preferential seating, adjusted goals and expectations, study skills instruction (often a resource room), organization of educational materials, use of computer and computer programs. If the individual qualifies, physical, occupational, speech therapy, and supplemental services such as special communication systems could also be offered. Too often the individual often must fight for the right services and to receive them as promised. It’s a continuing struggle for parents and students with disabilities.
Keep in mind the services under this act are your right, and do not limit what you can be offered. Think about if your needs are not being met. If not, why? What can be done for success? Here are some simple common-sense suggestions:
- Extended time for tests AND quizzes
- Breaks during exams – especially if you are ADD. Think about how long you can focus before you need a short break. It should include the option to walk so you are not forced to sit still.
- Do not allow the school to plan your goals so the educators look good and you are not getting the stimulation you deserve.
- Observe the methods of teaching basic skills – especially reading. You may need a different method so that you can learn. Research what other options may work better for you.
- Note taking assistance may include the notes from another student. If the student does not attend class, the notes are not readable, the notes do not make sense, advise the school so another student can be assigned the task. There are also many computer programs that now assist with note taking. Ask the school what they have or what they can purchase for you. Be educated in case they do not offer you any other options.
- If organization and study skills are offered, be aware and share with the teacher what works and does not work. Maybe also you can suggest organizing methods that either work for you or were suggested by others. The teacher should be open to adjustments and changes.
- Use common sense! If it is not working or not enough, think about how to make things better. Often a simple solution is all you need to be successful in education.
- There are computer programs available for you or your student to use. New ones are being offered regularly. Maybe a computer program will work for you. Often schools have their offerings of programs available for students with disabilities. FIND OUT WHAT THEY ARE. Maybe what they have will work for you. If your needs are still not met, research what is available. Sometimes the school will pay for the program if you can prove the school is not meeting your educational needs, However, often they will not. Other agencies may be able to help you financially or to offer you the needed program. For example, if you are visually impaired, a not for profit agency for the visually impaired may be able to offer you the help you need.
I invite you to respond:
What accommodations have worked best for you?
What creative but simple accommodations have you requested have been helpful? Something not on the standard list?
Are there any computer programs you suggest that support a specific disability? Please include the disability it is supporting.