Each semester, there are between 160-180 students registered with Disability Services. The students served experience a wide-range of disabilities and 90% of them are in good academic standing. Students with disabilities at NMU are studying abroad, NCAA athletes, RAs in the residence halls, working on and off campus jobs, involved with student leadership opportunities on campus and involved with their communities. Their disabilities are a part of who they are, but do not define them. They are individuals.
The following are some tips for general awareness and disability etiquette:
- Legally, students are not required to disclose the nature of their disability and faculty cannot ask a student if he/she has a disability.
- If a disability is suspected, ask the student about their strengths and weaknesses and if they had any academic adjustments in high school. It would be appropriate to say something like, “I can see you know the material, why can’t you express it on tests?”
- Students with disabilities have to meet the same standards as any other student; they are here because of their abilities, not their disabilities.
- Reasonable accommodations are put in place so that students with disabilities can be evaluated on their understanding of course material without interference of a disability.
- Non-visible disabilities are just as real as visible disabilities.
- Ask first before offering assistance.
- Avoid saying “disabled person”, use “person with a disability.”
- If can’t understand the student’s speech, ask them to repeat or put it in writing.
- When speaking to someone in a wheelchair, try to get to their level…..pull up a chair!
- Refer to someone as hard of hearing instead of hearing impaired.
- Try to face the class when speaking, someone may be reading your lips.
- Close the door to the classroom to reduce distractions.
- Repeat discussion questions and statements made by other students.
- Keep interactions regarding disability issues confidential.
If your department would like a personalized training session regarding any aspect of providing accommodations, please contact Carolyn Lawrence, Coordinator of Disability Services at 227-1700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.