Student Accessibility Services supports student accommodations during remote learning
Accommodations for students with disabilities, coordinated by Ohio University Student Accessibility Services (SAS), are critical to helping students succeed. Student Accessibility Services staff continue to provide support to OHIO students with disabilities throughout the shift to remote learning and instruction.
“We remain available to meet with students virtually during normal business hours and assist in accessing resources students may not have needed prior to this shift,” Director of Student Accessibility Services Christina Perez said. “We have also encouraged students to reach out to us if adjustments are needed to their accommodations due to the online learning environment.”
Junior journalism major Isaac Miller utilizes accommodations like note-taking assistance and extended testing time. He notes that the transition to remote learning has not had much impact on his communication with professors since email was already his main channel of communication, but now his meetings with his accessibility coordinator also take place online.
“My accessibility coordinator reached out to me after the transition to online to make sure I was OK,” Miller said. He noted that his professors have made themselves available and offered flexibility with deadlines, allowing extensions when needed.
Though many students, and the faculty and staff who teach and support them, report that they miss being on campus, the shift to online learning has had its silver linings.
Perez says many students appreciate the flexibility of asynchronous classes which allow them to work more at their own pace.
“If they are experiencing impacts from their disability that would typically inhibit their focus or ability to physically attend class, they are able to do coursework and/or listen to lecture at times where they are more focused or less impacted,” Perez said. “I have also heard from several students that this flexibility has allowed them the opportunity to get a job and work more while in school.”
According to Perez, Student Accessibility Services staff have seen that online learning has reduced the need for accommodations in many cases. “Students who have the accommodation of a reduced distraction location for testing don’t have to make specific arrangements—they can find a location conducive to their needs,” Perez said. Of course, the home environment is not always free from distractions and can present a different set of challenges.
Finding or creating a distraction-free environment in the home can present a challenge.
“Students have shared some difficulties with increased distractions at home while trying to complete coursework, study, and take exams,” said Perez.
Miller says staying focused at home can be a challenge. Before the pandemic he typically studied at Alden Library where he had a favorite study spot. This semester he has had to figure out how to deal with new distractions while learning from home.
“Sometimes it’s hard to concentrate at my house,” he said. “I’m in my room. I’ve got all the stuff I enjoy in my room.” He uses white noise, with his favorite being forest sounds, to mask the noise around him and help him concentrate while studying.
Perez notes that the transition to online instruction has resulted in the adjustment of accommodations for some of the students registered with SAS.
“Some students may require additional time on exams or the ability to take breaks during an exam due to additional impacts they may experience from staring at a computer screen for extended periods of time,” she said.
Perez also noted that students who might have accommodations for assistance with note-taking may not require that accommodation since classes offered asynchronously (not at a set time) involve recorded lectures and materials that are available to students to refer back to as needed.
According to Miller, notetaking assistance is one of the accommodations that he is not utilizing during this period of remote learning. He said he typically supplements his own notes with those of a note-taker who would attend the same classes, but now he simply revisits his professors’ recorded lectures and accesses professors’ notes.
Miller said he has had more reading this semester since all his classes are online and time management can be an issue. “One of the biggest challenges for me has been trying to figure out how to get things done during the day,” he noted. He finds it helpful to plan each evening for the next day. “If you have trouble concentrating, make a schedule or road map of what you need to get done each day,” he suggests.
Like all OHIO undergraduates, student with disabilities can access academic assistance in the form of tutoring and online learning navigation through the Academic Achievement Center (AAC). All tutors receive training in how to be aware of and accommodate different student learning needs. Director of Academic Assistance Elizabeth Fallon says students with disabilities are using online tutoring more than they used face-to-face tutoring.
“In this time of online learning students are taking advantage of the opportunity to work with a tutor,” said Fallon, explaining that the tutoring services are flexible and the AAC is able to accommodate longer or shorter appointments and more frequent appointment based on student needs.
Students with disabilities may apply for accommodations using the online form. For more information about registering with Student Accessibility Services call 740-593-2620 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.