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Disability & Accessibility: Education

This guide provides gathers resources for researching disability and accessibility across disciplines.

Additional educational services or accommodations are sometimes required to meet the educational needs of disabled students. This includes students with

  • learning disabilities
  • learning difficulties (such as dyslexia and ADHD)
  • communication disorders
  • emotional and behavioral disorders
  • physical disabilities (such as osteogenesis imperfecta, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, and Friedreich's ataxia)
  • developmental disabilities (such as autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disabilities)
  • and other disabilities.

Explore the resources below to research topics related to disability and education. Be aware that educational programs for disabled people are often called "special needs education" or "special education". Including the word special is euphemistic and is no longer suggested. Keep this in mind when designing your searches and be intentional about the language you use in your project.

Databases

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Universal Design for Learning is an educational framework designed to reduce physical, cognitive, intellectual and organizational barriers to learning. UDL applies the general idea of Universal Design to Learning. UDL education allows for multiple means of representation, expression, and engagement to make lessons accessible to more students without modification.

Accomodations and Individualized Education Programs

Disabled learners often need supports or adjustments to reduce barriers to educational materials and activities. In Kindergarten through twelfth grade in the United States, these adjustments are often formalized in an Individualized Learning Program (IEP). In higher education, these adjustments are made with a University's Disability or Accessibility Services office.

Individualized Education Program

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is both the education program provided to a student with a disability, and the written document that describes it. A student's parent works with a team of educators and administrators to develop an educational program that reduces barriers to learning. IEPs also prioritize integration into the school environment as much as possible for the individual student. IEPs are required by the IDEAS Act for students who qualify.

Accommodations

In higher education, educational adjustments are often made through formalized accommodations negotiated with a school's Disability or Accessibility services office. These accommodations usually require a formal medical diagnosis. Accommodations can include but are not limited to:

  • additional time on tests
  • note takers
  • materials in alternate formats
  • ASL Translation
  • specialized technology
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