There are a range of medical diagnoses and subsequent health problems that can have a temporary or chronic impact on a student’s academic performance. These include, but are not limited to, arthritis, cancer, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, asthma, AIDS, Crohn’s, and heart disease. Unless the condition is neurological in nature, health impairments are not likely to directly affect learning. However, the secondary effects of illness and the side effects of medications can have a significant impact on memory, attention, strength, endurance, and energy levels.
It is the expectation of the College that students attend and arrive on time to all class meetings. If a student needs to miss class due to a medical disability when their condition flairs, OSS will collaborate with the professor and the student in advance to identify a clear policy on absences so as not to alter fundamental course requirements.
Each instructor has the right to determine their own individual attendance policy. Students are responsible for accounting to their instructors any absence and should contact the faculty member following any absence to determine if and when work may be made up. OSS is happy to consult with students and faculty to determine what is appropriate in specific circumstances.
Examples of ways impairment may affect a student’s ability to participate include:
- Missing class for unpredictable and prolonged time periods
- Health problems may also interfere with the physical skills needed to complete laboratory, computer, or writing assignments
- Individuals with arthritis, for example, may have difficulty writing due to pain or joint deformities, making it a challenge for them to meet the writing requirements for some classes
- Students with Multiple Sclerosis may not be able to manipulate small laboratory equipment or complete tasks that require precise measuring, graphing, or drawing
- Prolonged sitting may pose challenges for an individual with chronic pain or back problems
- Illness or injury may result in limitations in mobility which require the need to use a wheelchair or scooter for mobility
- Some students must avoid specific activities that trigger their conditions. For example, a student with asthma may need to avoid specific inhalants in a lab.
Potential Accommodations / Teaching Strategies:
- Notetakers or scribes
- Audio-recording of classes
- Flexible attendance policy
- Short-term extensions on assignments when possible
- Extended testing time or alternative testing arrangements
- Assignments available in electronic format
- Electronic distribution of course materials
- Speech recognition computer input devices
When health conditions result in mobility problems, accommodations for students with mobility impairments may be appropriate.
Haverford College, Access and Disability Services
Student Disability Services, Swarthmore College
Access Services, Bryn Mawr College
DO-IT, University of Washington