A Message to Parents
A Message to Parents (of the College-Bound Student)
By K. C.
In the past, as a mother of two dyslexic daughters, I have often wondered how many Einsteins and Edisons have gone unrecognized, since access to higher education for dyslexics was limited. Today though, instead of wondering what could have been, I find myself celebrating the positive changes that have occurred in the area of college success for learning disabled students.
Specifically, according to the American Council on Education, college freshmen enrollment for students with learning disabilities has risen from 15.3% in 1988 to 32.2% in 1994, and is still climbing.
One of the main reasons for this increase is due to free support services that are required by Section 504 and American Disabilities Act (ADA) legislation. Consequently, these accommodations have opened the doors to allow LD students entry into a world that many of them never believed they could penetrate.
Examples of support services or accommodations required by law include:
- Alternative exam arrangements
- Recorded books
- Use of computers to write out exams or papers
- Spell checkers
- Taped lectures
- Kurzweil – type reading machines
- Peer notetakers.
However, it is important to note that in order to qualify for special services, documentation of a learning disability is needed.
Furthermore, some universities go beyond required accommodations. To illustrate, the University of Denver’s Learning Effectiveness Program provides a personal academic counselor, paper writing assistance, tutoring, academic advising, priority registration, foreign language course substitutions, writing and study skills workshops, alternative testing arrangements, computers with LD software, liaison support with faculty, and recorded books or articles on tape. Please note that programs like these usually have a substantial fee attached. However, there are usually need-based scholarships available, as well as financial and supplemental grants.
And last, if you are interested in exploring this topic further, I highly recommend the following books:
Peterson’s Colleges with Programs for Students with Learning Disabilities or Attention Deficit Disorders, and the K & W Guide to Colleges for the Learning Disabled. [Both are available at www.amazon.com]
…Who knows how many DaVincis and Yeats will eventually be discovered in a university LD support program?
This article originally appeared in the IDA Southwest newsletter, Spring 1999. The author’s older daughter earned her Masters degree in psychology; her younger daughter is an elementary school teacher.
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