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Wayne State College
Counseling Center
Student Center, Rm. 103
1111 Main St.
Wayne, NE 68787

Phone: 402.375.7321
Fax: 402.375.7058





Classroom Accommodations for College Students with Disabilities


Identifying the student with a disability

Determining that a student is disabled may not always be a simple process. Visible disabilities are noticeable through casual observation-for example the use of a cane or a wheelchair. Other students have what are called hidden disabilities, such as hearing or visual impairments, learning disabilities and health impairments. Finally, there are students with multiple disabilities, which are caused by primary conditions such as multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy. These conditions may be accompanied by impairments in vision, mobility, speech or coordination which may, in fact, pose greater learning difficulties. To facilitate the identification of students with disabilities, instructors should make an announcement at the beginning of the semester inviting students with disabilities to talk with them.

Dividing the responsibility

Students bear the primary responsibility, not only for identifying themselves as disabled, but for making minor adjustments to the learning environment-for reading and taking notes for example. For exam arrangements and major adjustments-moving to an accessible classroom, modifying lab equipment or physical use of course materials, the assistance of the instructor is needed.

Faculty-student relationships

Dialogue between the student and the instructor is essential early in the semester. It is appropriate to discuss the student's disability as it relates to the course. The student's own suggestions and experience are invaluable in accommodating his/her disability.


Classroom adjustments

Disabled and nondisabled students may benefit from the following general adjustments: making reading lists available prior to the beginning of the semester, thoughtful seating arrangements, speaking directly to the class, and writing key lecture points and assignments on the board.


In addition to the specific adjustments that are later categorized by disability type, some sensitivity is needed to understand the more subtle and unexpected manifestations of disability. Chronic fatigue and weakness characterize some disabilities and medical conditions. Drowsiness, fatigue or impairments of memory and cognitive speed can result from the use of prescribed medications. This type of behavior shouldn't be mistaken for the apathetic behavior it may resemble.

Taking class notes

Students who cannot take notes or who have difficulty taking notes adequately can be accommodated by allowing them to tape record lectures, to use a note taker in class or providing them with an outline or a copy of the instructor's notes.

Testing and evaluation

Depending on the disability, the student may require an alternative administration of the test. Oral exams, the use of readers or scribes, extended time limits or a modified format are examples of alternative exam accommodations.


  • Reasonable Accommodations: A Faculty Guide to Teaching College Students with Disabilities. Professional Staff Congress, City University of New York.
  • Measuring Student Progress in the Classroom. Higher Education and Adult Training for people with Handicaps. Washington, D.C.

Click here to read more about classroom accommodations for specific disabilities you may encounter. For more information, contact Jamie Mackling in the Counseling Center by calling 375-7321 (or 7557) or by e-mail at



Ron Vick, MA, LPC
Counselor / Academic Advisor
Int'l Student Advisor




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   »Acad. Accomm.

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-- Classroom

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