OFFICE OF DISABILITY SERVICES

FACULTY AND STAFF

Strategies in working with students who have Manual Dexterity/Mobility/Other Physical Access Issues:

  • Students with reduced manual dexterity or other physical access needs may need to partner with a student in classes where for safety reasons a task may be impossible for that student to do alone. Faculty in these situations need to determine if the task HAS to be done alone as an essential function of that class. The ADA’s key phrase of “with or without accommodation” is very important here. Here’s an example: In an anatomy lab, does the student need to know where a body part is and how it functions, or must excising it from adjacent tissue be done by each student? If location and function are the key goals of a task, a partner is fine. If the student expects to be a surgeon upon completing the degree, then the accommodation is inappropriate and the student is not “otherwise qualified” to participate in that class. Faculty consultation with peers, the department chair, Disability Services staff, and professionals in the field may yield solutions that are not apparent at first. Of course, confidentiality relating to the student must be maintained at all times.

  • Exams may need to be scribed, taken with assistive technology, or have recorded responses for students who can read the exam questions but not mark the responses by themselves on an opscan sheet or bluebook. These services can be provided by the Disability Services staff if the faculty prefers. Sometimes a student may be able to take the test in class but just mark the exam rather than an answer form; the response can be entered on an opscan form or other answer sheet at the conclusion of the test.

  • Referrals can be made to the Center for Assistive Technology at SUNY at Buffalo if a student needs to have specialized equipment to complete tasks. Many students with physical disabilities are receiving support from agencies that provide evaluation and training from the Center, at no cost to our campus. If new software is being used or an upgrade in equipment is expected for the upcoming semester, it is critical for the student to have training in using the new technology before the semester begins.