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Learning Disabilities and Diversity


Title: Diversity and Learning Disabilities Author: Vicki Judd Last modified by: cperez Created Date: 10/24/2008 11:09:11 PM Document presentation format – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Learning Disabilities and Diversity

Learning Disabilities and Diversity
  • Victoria E Judd M.D.

Poster available at www.disabilityisnatural.com
  • 1. Describe how disability and diversity cultures
    relate to each other
  • 2. Identify the impact on students who have
    learning disabilities and are ethnically and
    racially diverse
  • 3. List ways health and mental health
    professionals can help

  • The loss of or limitation of opportunities to
    take part in the community on an equal basis with
  • It is not something that the person suffers from.
  • It is the product of interaction of the person
    and the community.

  • A disability may impact a part of ones life yet
    it is considered the defining characteristic by

  • Currently 1 in 5 Americans have a disability.
  • 1 in 10 Americans have a severe disability.

Who has a disability?
  • Anyone with a mental or physical impairment that
    limits one or more major life areas.

Life Areas
  • Walking
  • Caring for ones self
  • Performing manual tasks
  • Sleeping
  • Eating
  • Dressing
  • Thinking
  • Working
  • Lifting
  • Seeing
  • Hearing
  • Speaking
  • Breathing
  • Learning
  • Reading
  • Concentrating
  • Communicating
  • Standing
  • Others

Traditional Culture
  • Oldest model
  • Places blame on the person for having something
    wrong with them
  • Disability is shameful and something to hide

Medical Culture
  • A shift to a scientific understanding of the
    causes of disability
  • Focuses on cure and rehabilitation
  • The disability is the problem resulting in the
    implication that the disabled individual is
    never okay.

Social Culture
  • Looks at the strengths of the person with a
  • Identifies the physical, social, etc. barriers
    that obstruct a individual with a disability
  • The constructs within society are the problem
  • Disability is a civil rights issue

Students with Learning Disabilities
  • Learning disabilities (LD) comprise the largest
    single category of students served under
    Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
  • (US DOE, 2002)
  • Students with LD now represent the largest single
    category of students with disabilities in 2-year
    and 4-year postsecondary institutions
  • Henderson, C. (1999). College Freshmen with
    disabilities, statistical year 1998. Washington,
    D.C. American Council on Education

Growing Number of Students with Disabilities
  • 11 of all college students and 9 of first-time
    college freshmen report some type of disability

Growing Number of Students with Disabilities
  • Type of Disability Reported
  • 46 - Learning Disabilities
  • 14 - Mobility Impairments
  • 11 - Health Impairments
  • 8 - Mentally Ill or Emotionally Disturbed
  • 6 - Hearing Impaired
  • 4 - Blind or Visually Impaired
  • 1 - Speech or Language Impediment
  • 9 - Other

Leonardo da Vinci
  • outstanding artist, engineer, architect
  • famous for his mirror writing

  • Great scientist but!
  • unable to read until he was nine
  • failed first college entrance exam
  • lost two teaching jobs because of problems with
    written language

Famous People with a Learning Disability
  • Albert EinsteinGalileoMozartWright
    BrothersLeonardo da VinciCherBruce JennerTom
    CruiseCharles SchwabHenry WinklerDanny
    GloverWalt DisneyJohn LennonGreg
    LouganisWinston ChurchillHenry FordStephen
    HawkingJules VerneAlexander Graham BellWoodrow
    WilsonHans Christian AndersonNelson Rockefeller
  • Thomas EdisonGen. George PattonAgatha
    ChristieJohn F. KennedyWhoopi
    GoldbergRodinThomas ThoreauDavid H.
    MurdockDustin HoffmanPete RoseRussell
    WhiteJason KiddRussell VarianRobin
    WilliamsLouis PasteurWerner von BraunDwight D.
    EisenhowerRobert KennedyLuci Baines Johnson
    NugentGeorge Bush's childrenPrince Charles

Famous People with a Learning Disability
  • Gen. WestmorelandEddie RickenbackerGregory
    BoyingtonHarry BelafonteF. Scott
    FitzgeraldMariel HemingwaySteve McQueenGeorge
    C. ScottTom SmothersSuzanne SomersLindsay
    WagnerGeorge Bernard ShawBeethovenCarl
    LewisJackie Stewart"Magic" JohnsonWeyerhauser
    familyWrigleyJohn CorcoranSylvester Stallone
  • Musicians Mozart, Beethoven, John Lennon, and
  • Athletes Magic Johnson, Bruce Jenner, Carl
    Lewis, and Nolan Ryan.
  • Politicians John F. Kennedy, Nelson Rockefeller,
    Dwight Eisenhower, and Woodrow Wilson.
  • Military leaders General Patton and General

Disability as a part of Diversity
  • College campuses need to be aware that
  • Disability shapes students experience of
    learning and of the classroom just like race,
    gender, national origin, culture
  • College campuses need to adapt and adopt existing
    resources for students with disabilities to be
    included in inclusive teaching and teaching
    diverse learners

Diverse Students Fear of Disclosure
  • Fear of Inaccurate Labels
  • Accused of Faking Their Disability
  • Experienced a Chilly Classroom Climate
  • Poor Self-Advocacy Skills

What is stereotype threat?
  • Fear of being treated and judged according to a
    negative stereotype about ones group
  • Occurs when an individual is in a performance
    situation and is aware that there is a negative
    stereotype about their group that suggests they
    will not perform well
  • Occurs regardless of whether the individual
    believes the stereotype
  • Occurs regardless of the accuracy of the

What are the conditions that lead to stereotype
  • The task an individual is performing is relevant
    to the stereotype
  • The task is challenging
  • The individual is performing in a domain she or
    he identifies with
  • The context in which the task is being performed
    is likely to reinforce the stereotype

What are the consequences of stereotype threat?
  • Decreased achievement test performance
  • Decreased short term task performance
  • Vast majority of research has examined these

Proposed mechanisms for effect of stereotype
threat on performance
  • Physiological arousal
  • Reduced working memory capacity
  • Anxiety
  • Excess effort
  • Lowered performance expectations
  • Source www.ReducingStereotypeThreat.org

Intelligent, motivated student faces a
difficult, stereotype relevant test
Search for explanation of difficulty
Context reinforces stereotype
Stereotype comes to mind
Student performs test, but performance is
disrupted by stereotype threat
Student becomes frustrated and demotivated
Others assume student that performance
accurately reflects ability
Documented in a large number of groups
  • Women on math tests
  • (Spencer, Steele Quinn,1999)
  • African-Americans on standardized tests
  • (Steele Aronson, 1995)
  • Hispanics on standardized tests
  • (Gonzales, Blanton Williams, 2002)
  • Low SES students on standardized tests
  • (Croizet Claire, 1998)
  • Women on negotiation tasks
  • (Kray, Galinsky Thompson, 2002)
  • Men on social sensitivity tasks
  • (Koenig Eagly, 2005)
  • Whites on tasks that require being non-racist
  • (Richeson Shelton, 2003)
  • White men (compared with Black men) on athletic
  • (Stone, Sjomeling, Lynch, Darley, 1999)
  • White men (compared with Asian men) on a math
  • (Aronson, Lustinga, Good, Keough, Steele,

A Few Suggestions on Overcoming Stereotype Threat
  • Reframing the task
  • Deemphasizing threatened social identities
  • Encouraging self-affirmation
  • Emphasizing high standards with assurances of
  • Providing role models
  • Providing external attributions for difficulty
  • Emphasizing an incremental view of ability
  • Source http//reducingstereotypethreat.org/reduce

Cognitive Dissonance
Research on Race Bias
Research on Race Bias
Research on Race Bias
Research on Race Bias
Unconscious Bias
Unconscious Bias
Characteristics of students with learning
  • poor short term memory
  • speaking vocabulary than written vocabulary
  • struggles with decoding words
  • poor at computation
  • refuses written work
  • handwriting is not legible
  • difficulty with spelling phonics

Characteristics of students with learning
  • struggles with easy sequential material
  • difficulty with rote memorization
  • inattentive in class
  • emotions overpower reasoning
  • poor auditory memory/listening skills
  • weak in language mechanics etc

Characteristics of students with learning
  • needs to be interested to learn
  • performs poorly on timed test
  • disorganized
  • avoids weak areas
  • foreign languages sequencing memory subjects

Diverse Students
  • Students with hidden disabilities psychiatric,
    learning, environmental, cognitive disabilities
  • nontraditional students working parents,
    entering college a few years after high school
  • From culturally and linguistically diverse
    backgrounds (CLD), or new immigrants
  • Low socioeconomic status

CLD students with disabilitiesmore likely to
  • Language and social barriers
  • Negative effects of having grown up in poverty
  • Difficulty processing standard English oral and
    written information
  • All of which may contribute to their risk of
    school failure
  • Greene, G., Nefsky, P. (1999). Transition for
    culturally and linguistically diverse youth with
    disabilities Closing the gaps. Multiple Voices
    for Ethnically Diverse Exceptional Learners,
    3(1), 15-24.

As a Results CLD students
  • In comparison to non-CLD students with
    disabilities, CLD students tend to
  • Have poor transition outcomes (from secondary to
  • Lower employment rates
  • Lower average wages
  • Lower participation in postsecondary education
  • Blackorby, J., Wagner, M. (1996). Longitudinal
    postschool outcomes of youth with disabilities
    Findings from the National Longitudinal
    Transition Study. Exceptional Children, 62,

As a Result CLD students
  • Sense of social isolation
  • Basic mismatch between home culture and
    educational culture they face in schools
  • Support programs for students with disabilities
    tend to focus on academic issues
  • CLD students may also need focus on social
    supports to achieve academically
  • Carey, J. C., Boscardin, M. L., Fontes, L.
    (1994). Improving the multicultural effectiveness
    of your school. In P. Pedersen J. C. Carey
    (Eds.), Multicultural counseling in schools A
    practical handbook (pp. 239-249). Boston Allyn

CLD Student Challenges
  • Transition from high school to college
  • From IDEA to ADA
  • Responsibility shifts from school to student
  • Importance of self-advocacy
  • Difficult for CLD students
  • cultural values against disclosing personal
    challenges or asking for help
  • Difficulty in approaching persons of higher
    status, such as professors, disability support
  • Leake, D. Cholmay, M. (2000). Addressing the
    Needs of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse
    Students with Disabilities in Postsecondary
    Education. National Center on Secondary Education
    and Transition, Information Brief 3 (1).

CLD Student Challenges
  • It is difficult to determine if a students
    learning difficulties are a result of learning
    disabilities, or due to issues related to their
    CLD status
  • Danger of under-diagnosis of CLD students
    learning disabilities because the assumption is
    that the problem lies in English language
    comprehension difficulties.
  • Shortage of qualified bilingual diagnosticians to
    determine eligibility for supports
  • D. Shulman (2002). Diagnosing Learning
    Disabilities in Community College Culturally and
    Linguistically Diverse Students. Journal of
    Postsecondary Education and Disability, 16 (1)

Faculty Attitudes
  • Survey of faculty attitudes and practices
  • Two-thirds of faculty have limited contacts with
    students with disabilities
  • Large majority had little or no experience
    teaching students with disabilities
  • Those with experience had it with students with
    LD and students with visual, hearing, or
    orthopedic impairments
  • Least experience with psychiatric disabilities
    and chronic illness
  • Leyser, Y., Vogel, S., Wyland,S., and Brulle,
    A.(1998). Faculty Attitudes and Practices
    Regarding Students with Disabilities Two Decades
    after Implementation of Section 504. Journal on
    Postsecondary Education and Disability

Faculty Attitudes
  • Surveys of students assessing faculty knowledge
    of disability issues and accommodations
  • Faculty were evaluated on the low-to-moderate end
  • Roessler, R. and Kirk, M. (1998) Improving
    technology training services in postsecondary
    education Perspectives of recent college
    graduates with disabilities. Journal of
    Postsecondary Education and Disability 13, 48-59

Faculty Attitudes
  • Faculty attitudes towards accommodations for LD
  • Saw LD as different from other disabilities
  • Questioning the legitimacy of the LD diagnosis
  • Concern about academic freedom
  • Jensen, J., McCrary, N., Krampe, K. and Justin
    Cooper, J.(2004). Trying to Do the Right Thing
    Faculty Attitudes Toward Accommodating Students
    with Learning Disabilities. Journal of
    Postsecondary Education and Disability, 17 (2)

Faculty Attitudes
  • BUT focus group of faculty showed strong desire
    to understand the experiences and concerns of
    students with disabilities in their classes
  • Hennessey, M. (2004). An examination of the
    employment and career development concerns of
    postsecondary students with disabilities Results
    of a tri-regional study. Doctoral dissertation,
    Kent State University.

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  • The greatest barriers individuals with
    disabilities have faced for decades and continue
    to face today are attitudinal barriers.

Why the Attitude?
  • FEAR Many people fear they will say or do the
    wrong thing and, therefore, avoid people with
  • BACKLASH People believe that individuals with
    disabilities are given unfair advantages.
  • DENIAL "Hidden" disabilities are not "real"
    disabilities that require accommodation.
  • SPREAD EFFECT People assume that a person with a
    disability is totally impaired. For example,
    people may talk loudly to a person who is blind.

Myths about Students with Disabilities
  • Students with disabilities cannot be taught a
  • This is not true. Each student with a
    disability is an individual with certain
    abilities. The focus should be on what the
    individual can do, not limited by what he/she
    cannot. For instance, a student with a cognitive
    disability may have weaknesses in traditional
    academic areas and may have trouble reading
    however, this student may do well in other areas
    such as art. The key is to provide the student
    with the training he/she needs to match both
    their abilities and interests.
  • Students with disabilities cannot make academic
  • With reasonable accommodation, the student
    may make academic gains in language or math, etc.
  • All students with disabilities have low mental
  • Every individual with a disability is
    unique just as each individual without a
    disability is unique. Even manifestations of the
    same type of disability may present differently
    in different individuals. Get to know the person
    before making judgments based upon a label.

  • The words you use can create either a positive
    view of people with disabilities or it can
    reinforce common myths.

  • Its not just a matter of semantics or being
    politically correct the language we use
    reflects how we feel about disability.
  • http//www.disabilitylearningservices.com/unit03.h

Person First Language
  • Person First Language puts the person before the
    disability and describes what a person has, not
    who a person is.
  • A person with a disability not a
  • disabled person

Why Person First?
  • Group designations such as "the blind," "the
    retarded" or "the disabled" are inappropriate
    because they do not reflect the individuality,
    equality or dignity of people with disabilities.
  • Further, words like "normal person" imply that
    the person with a disability isn't normal,
    whereas "person without a disability" is
    descriptive but not negative.
  • http//www.dol.gov/odep/pubs/fact/comucate.htm

Barrier Removal Reasonable Accommodation
  • Sometimes our misperceptions and biases about
    what a person with a disability can or cannot do
    exist because there is not an awareness or
    knowledge base of how those barriers might be
    alleviated with the use of appropriate reasonable

How Accommodations Remove Barriers
Examples of what some individuals with certain
types of learning disabilities might see when
looking at printed material or how they might
write on paper.
Overcoming Those Barriers
  • There are many ways in which barriers due to a
    disability may be accommodated.
  • Examples
  • Use of a word processor
  • Spell check
  • Word prediction
  • Use of text to speech software
  • Use of voice dictation software

Creating Inclusive Environments
  • Keep in mind that knowing how to react
    appropriately in every situation requires time
    and practice.
  • As with all other etiquette issues, when mistakes
    are made, apologize, correct the problem, learn
    from the mistake, move ondo not be discouraged,
    and above all,
  • keep trying. 

Universal Design
  • Principle of Universal Design comes from
    architecture and was developed by Ron Mace, an
    architect who had polio and used a wheelchair.
    In essence, UD means anyone can use whatever is

Definition of Universal Design
  • The design of products and environments to be
    usable by all people, to the greatest extent
    possible, without the need for adaptation or
    specialized design.
  • The Center for Universal Design Environments
    and Products for
  • All. (n.d.). About universal design.

The Nine Principles of Universal Design for
  • Scott, S. S., McGuire, J. M., Shaw, S. F.
  • Universal design for instruction A new paradigm
    for adult instruction in postsecondary education.
    Remedial and Special Education, 24, 369-379.

Principle 1 Equitable Use
  • Instruction is designed to be useful to and
    accessible by people with diverse abilities.
    Instruction is identical whenever possible,
    equivalent when not.
  • Example Class materials are available online so
    students can access materials when needed.

Principle 2 Flexibility in Use
  • Instruction is designed to accommodate a wide
    range of learning styles. Provide choice in
    methods of use.
  • Example Create lectures that use visual aids,
    group activities, hands-on tasks, or web based

Principle 3 Simple and Intuitive
  • Instruction is designed in a straightforward and
    predictable manner regardless of the students
    experience, knowledge, language, or current
    concentration level. Eliminate unnecessary
  • Example Class assignments, due dates, and course
    evaluation are communicated clearly on the

Principle 4 Perceptible Information
  • Instruction is designed so that necessary
    information is communicated effectively to the
  • Example Select course materials that can be
    accessed through hardcopy or electronically. This
    allows students with print impairments and other
    learning disabilities to use screen enlargers or
    screen readers.

Principle 5 Tolerance for Error
  • Instruction anticipates variation in individual
    student learning pace and prerequisite skills.
  • Example Climate supports students to turn in
    drafts of work for constructive feedback and
    editing before the final project is due.

Principle 6 Low Physical Effort
  • Instruction is designed to minimize nonessential
    physical effort in order to allow maximum
    attention to learning (does not apply when
    physical effort is integral to the course).
  • Example Allow students to use a laptop in class
    for taking notes or have access to a word
    processor for writing essay exams.

Principle 7 Size and Space for Approach and Use
  • Instruction is designed with consideration for
    appropriate size and space for approach, reach,
    manipulation, and use regardless of the students
    body size, posture, mobility, or communication
  • Example Provide a wheelchair accessible science
    lab station.

Principle 8 A Community of Learners
  • The instructional environment promotes
    interaction and communication between students
    and among students and faculty.
  • Example Fostering communication between students
    in and out of the classroom through chat rooms,
    email, and discussion groups.

Principle 9 Instructional Climate
  • Instruction is designed to be welcoming and
    inclusive. High expectations are espoused for all
  • Example Create a welcoming and inclusive
    classroom atmosphere that promotes and encourages

Universal Design for Instruction (UDI)
  • Proactive approach to teaching that uses
    inclusive strategies to benefit a broad range of
    learners, including students with disabilities
  • Use the nine principles of UDI to design
    courses, rather than retrofitting or using
    accommodations mandated by law

  • Accommodations like note takers or extra time on
    tests are typical changes that are retrofitted to
    minimize the impact of a disability
  • These are ways to practice nondiscrimination, but
    they are not based on pedagogy, or concerns about
    student learning
  • It is preferable to practice UDI proactively

Benefits of UDI
  • Todays college student population is
    increasingly diverse in Educational background,
    age, gender, ethnicity, religion, culture,
    primary language, and disability
  • Faculty who incorporate UDI at the onset create
    greater opportunities for learning
  • ALL students benefit

Benefits of UDI
  • Reduce potential stigma of accommodations
  • Learning environments can never be entirely
    accessible to all students individual needs. Some
    accommodations will be necessary, but all
    learning environments can be made more accessible
    and inclusive.
  • UDI does not mean lowering your academic
  • UDI helps you become a better teacher!

Students with disabilities need
  • Recognition
  • Accurate diagnosis
  • Understanding acceptance
  • Appropriate teaching
  • Appropriate accommodation
  • Compensatory strategies
  • Support
  • Non-discrimination

Student and Peers
  • Recognize importance relationship between student
    and peers in inclusive classroom
  • Importance of attitudes of nondisabled peers in
    legitimizing accommodations
  • Survey of nondisabled college students attitudes
    towards accommodations
  • Specific disabilities lie on a continuum of
    deservedness of accommodations
  • Women more likely than men to have positive view
    of accommodations
  • Upton, T Harper, D. (2002) Multidimensional
    Disability Attitudes and Equitable Evaluation of
    Educational Accommodations by College Students
    Without Disabilities. Journal of Postsecondary
    Education and Disability, 15 (2)

What the Law Requires
  • Students
  • with disabilities
  • who are otherwise qualified
  • must receive reasonable accommodations
  • and
  • are protected from discrimination, harassment,
    and retaliation

Where do we need to go ?
  • Focus on Teaching Assistants Untenured Faculty
  • Tend to teach introductory courses
  • Their teaching style can impact students
    decisions about whether to major in a discipline
  • Whether students feel at home in a discipline
  • They are still learning how to teach
  • Introducing UDI at just the right time
  • Train our next generation of college professors

Where do we need to go?
  • Understand disability as a lived experience
  • Understand the ways that disabilities can impact
    learning process and the college experience
  • Debunk stereotypes about disabilities and
  • unfair advantages
  • LD lack of intelligence or motivation
  • Understand their responsibilities under ADA and
    Section 504
  • Learn innovative teaching methods to reach all
    learning styles

Consensus statements reaffirming the concept of
learning disabilities
  • 1. The concept of Specific Learning Disabilities
    is valid, supported by strong converging evidence
  • 2. Specific learning disabilities are
    neurologically-based and intrinsic to the

Consensus statements reaffirming the concept of
learning disabilities
  • 3. Individuals with specific learning
    disabilities show intra-individual differences in
    skills and abilities
  • 4. Specific learning disabilities persist across
    the life span, though manifestations and
    intensity may vary as a function of developmental
    state and environmental demands

Consensus statements reaffirming the concept of
learning disabilities
  • 5. Specific learning disabilities are evident
    across ethnic, cultural, language, and economic

Social Society
  • Individual is valued
  • Strengths and needs defined by self and others
  • Barriers are identified and solutions developed
  • Resources are available
  • Relationships are nurtured

Social Society
  • Individual is included
  • Disability/diversity are celebrated
  • Society evolves

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