From: "Kennedy, Sheila" <s1kennedy**At_Symbol_Here**UCSD.EDU>
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Student with disability: what we need to know
Date: July 6, 2012 1:40:21 PM EDT
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: <FA001EE30BA70F4D926117C13DAFFFDF20A4F170**At_Symbol_Here**XMAIL-MBX-BT1.AD.UCSD.EDU>

Several posters have now commented about the need to understand the nature of the illness that requires oxygen.


After working with our campus Office of Students with Disabilities (OSD) through a number of (highly varied) accommodations, we’ve learned a few things:

1.      We really don’t need to know about the student’s medical condition; we need to know about what functional limitations the student has. This may seem like a fine distinction, but I really don’t need to know (and do not ask) about the reason a student has a hand tremor/limited vision/inability to stand for long periods/need for supplemental oxygen..

2.      What I really need to know is the functional limit of what the student can/cannot do within the normal lab environment & whether the difficult elements of the environment are essential to the lab experience & the skills we want the student to learn.

·        If the lab skills can be taught with different tools, adapted tools, different furniture, more space for some students, etc., then we need to supply those things if we reasonably can.

·        If changing the situation changes what we’re teaching, or short-circuits the student’s learning in any way, we’re going down the wrong road.

3.      Very few of the accommodations we have arranged have not been needed again within a couple of years.

4.      The professional disability advisors in our OSD are not just clerks filling out forms – they really know the law, the resources and the systems we can & can’t call on for help. Ours are amazing and it’s been an education working with them.

5.      Our population of students is becoming much more diverse with respect to physical abilities. I imagine there was a time when a woman with my eyesight would have started staying home early in life (when adolescent myopia set in) & would have been nearly house-bound by middle-age (myopia, plus astigmatism, plus age-related nearsightedness). This isn’t true anymore for eyesight; that thinking is spreading toward all manner of physical abilities – limited reach/respiratory disease/ability to stand for extended periods/ability to grasp & manipulate small objects/ability to see fine details.

6.      Physical ability says nothing about the academic quality of the student’s work – some succeed & some fail.


NOTE:  I do sometimes, after extended conversation & when accommodations have been arranged, ask about the provenance of the student’s limitations if the student seems open to such conversation, or if s/he brings it up first (often the case). This is generally to satisfy my own curiosity – and I say as much.


Sheila Kennedy, CHO
Safety Coordinator | Teaching Laboratories

UCSD Chemistry & Biochemistry |MC 0303

Office: (858) 534-0221 | Fax: (858) 534-7687

s1kennedy**At_Symbol_Here** |

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