Information for Faculty
About the Learning Disabilities Office and the Center for Access and Assistive Technology
There are two offices at Hudson Valley Community College that deal with students with disabilities. Each has its own responsibilities, but they work together to provide a complete array of services for students.
The Learning Disabilities Office of the Learning Assistance Center (lower level, Marvin Library Learning Commons) assists students who have learning disabilities and/or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
In the LD office we:
- Review students documentation and recommend accommodations;
- Evaluate student diagnostic information to help better understand their disability;
- Help students prepare for meetings with their advisor;
- Help students obtain texts in alternate format;
- Help students find note takers;
- Work with the Center for Access and Assistive Technology to coordinate accommodations;
- Work with the staff of the Learning Assistance Center to coordinate academic support services.
The Center for Access and Assistive Technology assists students with medical, physical, psychiatric, and psychological disabilities. It also provides the testing accommodations for all students with disabilities. Students may receive their primary assistance from the LD office, but if they need testing accommodations, they will go to the DRC to receive them.
The Learning Disabilities Office and the Center for Access and Assistive Technology coordinate their efforts to ensure that students receive the help they need to experience success at Hudson Valley.
For information about services for students with learning disabilities or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, please contact:
Technical Assistant, Learning Disabilities Office
For information about services for students with other disabilities, please contact the Center for Access and Assistive Technology at (518) 629-7154.
Overview - What is a Learning Disability, What Is Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Helpful Web Sites
A learning disability or AD/HD doesn’t mean a student cannot do college work. It does mean that he or she may need to spend more time studying and may need to use alternative methods to learn and demonstrate mastery of the course material.
A student may need a specific accommodation to compensate for the disability, such as extended time for testing to make up for a slower processing speed. Some students are very adept at working around their disabilities; others require more accommodations. All accommodations offered are based on the documentation that the student provides to the Learning Disabilities Specialist.
And as with all college students, students with disabilities may be lacking in specific study skills that can be learned (time management, test taking strategies, note taking, etc.). The Learning Assistance Center (LAC) offers help for students who need to improve their learning strategies through individual and small group work in addition to workshops. Schedules are available in the LAC.
What Is A Learning Disability?
A learning disability is a breakdown in the way a person takes in information, sorts it, stores it, and pulls it from memory for use. This is called “processing information.” A person may have a learning disability if he or she has difficulty in one or more of the following areas:
- Math calculation
- Social skills
Characteristics of College Students with Learning Disabilities
Students with learning disabilities may exhibit the following characteristics. No one student has all of these difficulties.
• Confusion of similar words, difficulty using phonics, problems reading multi-syllabic words.
• Slow reading rate and/or difficulty adjusting speed to the nature of the reading task.
• Difficulty with comprehension and retention of material that is read, but not with material presented orally.
• Difficulty with sentence structure, poor grammar, omitted words.
• Frequent spelling errors, inconsistent spelling, letter reversals.
• Difficulty copying from board or overhead.
• Poorly formed letters, difficulty with spacing, capitals, and punctuation.
• Difficulty attending to spoken language, inconsistent concentration.
• Difficulty expressing ideas orally, which the student seems to understand.
• Problem describing events or stories in proper sequence.
• Residual problems with grammar, difficulty with inflectional or derivational endings.
• Difficulty memorizing basic facts.
• Confusion or reversal of numbers, number sequence, or operational symbols.
• Difficulty copying problems, aligning columns.
• Difficulty reading or comprehending word problems.
• Problems with reasoning and abstract concepts.
• Poor organization and time management.
• Difficulty following directions.
• Poor organization of notes and other written materials.
• Needs more time to complete assignments.
• Difficulty “reading” facial expressions, body language.
• Problems interpreting subtle messages such as sarcasm.
• Confusion in spatial orientation, getting lost easily, difficulty following directions.
• Disorientation in time, difficulty telling time.
Useful Web Sites
What Is Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder?
AD/HD is an inability to attend to things effectively. Experts once believed that a child outgrew AD/HD, but they now recognize that it is a lifelong condition. A person may have AD/HD if he or she exhibits the following symptoms:
- Difficulty sustaining attention and waiting for a turn
- Difficulty following through on instructions and in organizing tasks
- Shifting from one unfinished activity to another
- Failing to give close attention to details
- Making careless mistakes
- Losing things necessary for tasks or activities
- Blurting out answers to questions before the questions have been completed
- Difficulty in listening to others without being distracted or interrupting
Characteristics of students with AD/HD according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual- Fourth Revision (DSM-IV)
- Careless mistakes in schoolwork, work or other activities
- Has a hard time sustaining attention in tasks or play
- Often does not seem to listen to what others are saying
- Often does not follow through on instructions and often fails to finish homework
- Has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
- Often avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort
- Often loses things
- Is often distracted by other things that go on in a room
- Fidgets and squirms with hands or feet in seat
- Inability to stay seated
- Often acts as if “motor driven”- difficulty with leisure activities
- Often talks excessively
- Difficulty waiting in lines
- Often interrupts others
Useful Web Sites
How a student registers for LD and AD/HD services
The student must:
- Provide the Learning Disabilities Specialist with the appropriate documentation of his or her disability;
- Complete the registration and release forms;
- Meet with personnel in the Learning Disabilities Office each semester to discuss his or her needed accommodations. At that time, decisions will be made about which accommodations are reasonable for each course, and the student will receive letters outlining the accommodations for their instructors (see Sample Accommodations Letter).
- Meet with the Center for Access and Assistive Technology to review testing policies and procedures (first semester only).
Students who need test accommodations can receive them in a variety of ways. The most common is for the student to take exams in the Center for Access and Assistive Technology. The Center for Access and Assistive Technology provides rooms for extended test time, readers or assistive technology for students who have reading disabilities and a quiet environment for students who need fewer distractions.
The basic process for test accommodations is:
- The student registers with the Learning Disabilities Specialist or the Center for Access and Assistive Technology as a student with a disability.
- The student receives accommodation letters and shares them with his or her instructors.
- When an exam is scheduled, the student signs up to take the test in the Center for Access and Assistive Technology. This must be done at least 5 business days before the scheduled test date.
- The student reminds the instructor that he or she will be taking the test in the DRC.
- The instructor completes the proctor instructions and sends the test to the Center for Access and Assistive Technology.
- The Center for Access and Assistive Technology administers the exam to the student at the agreed upon time and returns the exam to the instructor in the agreed upon manner for grading.
Some students who need only extended time may start exams in the classroom and finish in the instructor’s office. The details are worked out between the individual instructor and the student.
Faculty are not required to provide accommodations until the student has completed the process and presented the instructor with the accommodation letters signed by the Learning Disabilities Specialist.
What to do if you suspect a student has a learning disability
If a student is having trouble in your class, and you suspect it may be due to a learning disability or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, you can refer him or her in private to the Learning Disabilities Office in the Learning Assistance Center (LAC), Marvin 001, in the lower level of the library. The student can then make an appointment with us to discuss the situation. If warranted, we will suggest that the student pursue a full evaluation with an outside professional. We do not test for learning disabilities or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder at Hudson Valley Community College. We may refer the student to another Education Specialist in the LAC to help with learning strategies, writing or math skills. The LD specialist may also refer the student to a tutor for assistance with a specific course.
As with other aspects of college life, it is ultimately up to the student to contact us. Once the suggestion is made, he or she is free to follow up or not.
Technical Assistant, Learning Disabilities Office
Laws and Learning Disabilities
There are two important pieces of legislation that pertain to college students with disabilities. Both are meant to ensure access for students with disabilities.
Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (PL 93-112) states the following:
“No other wise qualified handicapped individual in the United States, as defined in section 7 (6), shall, solely by reason of his/her handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
This means that “qualified” students who happen to have a disability cannot be kept from the same opportunities as students without a disability, and that accommodations should be provided that will allow these students the opportunity to compete with other students. It does not guarantee success once the college has provided reasonable accommodations.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, and is civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. Institutions must make reasonable modifications in policies, practices and procedures that will enable a person with a disability to have the same opportunity as a non-disabled person to obtain goods, services or privileges.
These laws do not require colleges to modify the content or essential elements of a course. Students with disabilities must complete the same work as other students; however the method may be altered somewhat to provide access. For instance, a student with a reading disorder may use a text to speech program that reads his textbooks aloud, thus providing the student with the opportunity to complete all reading assignments. The student is responsible, as is any other student, for doing all assigned work according to the syllabus of the course.
Useful Web Sites:
Americans with Disabilities Act
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