Transformations Magazine January 2014 - page 18

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Designing Your Course
The principle
of universal
design has been
used to design
products and
which are
accessible to a broad range of
people, regardless of physical
ability. Lever door handles,
dropped curbs, and ramps
in swimming pools are some
examples which may come to
mind. In the last twenty years,
this principle has expanded
from the physical realm to the
cognitive realm. Simply typing
the phrase “universal design in
college instruction” into a search
engine will produce a number of
sites which discuss the design of
classrooms and courses to make
them accessible and “friendly” to
students with learning disabilities.
For most college instructors,
course design revolves around the
development of course objectives
and the readings, assignments,
and projects which will help
students achieve those objectives.
Until a student approaches an
instructor with an accommodation
form from the campus disabilities
office, the instructor rarely thinks
about preparing course materials
in a way that makes them more
accessible to a student with a
learning disability.
According to the National Center
for Learning Disabilities, learning
disabilities affect the way the
brain receives, processes, stores,
and responds to information.
Some of the more common
learning disabilities are dyslexia,
dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and visual
or auditory processing disorders.
According to Matthew Springer,
the Coordinator of Disability
Services at IU Southeast, most
students with learning disabilities
have a high aptitude. However,
there is a distinct gap between
the student’s aptitude and the
student’s classroom performance
due to the way that the student
processes information. Regardless
of the specific disability, there are
some common problems reported
by students. Reading and writing
are often slow and inefficient.
There is difficulty organizing
Designing Your Course with the
Learning Disabled Student in Mind
by Diane S. Reid
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