Five Accommodations in College for Students with Dyslexia
Looking for advice on accommodations in college for students with dyslexia? We have you covered.
Dyslexia comes with its own set of issues and needs that will continue to need to be addressed in college. Although it may share some characteristics with other learning disabilities, students with Dyslexia have specific needs. Those needs get even more significant due to the high prevalence of other disabilities coexisting with Dyslexia, such as ADHD and mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Some research suggests that comorbidity is up to 50%. It may seem complicated to figure out what can work. Further, as the severity of Dyslexia is on a continuum, the needs also vary widely.
To help navigate college accommodation requests, you can start here with this blog post that can help you and your student decide what accommodations make sense for them: What Accommodations Can My Child Request in College?
College students have access to the disability services office. Due to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and section 504, this office is responsible for any accommodation request for any disability, like a learning disability. The office staff will help you figure out what you need. Accommodations such as extra time for tests and distraction reduction are standard for most disabilities and students who had been on a 504 plan in high school. Here are five common accommodations specific for Dyslexia in college.
1. Books in an alternate format.
Books in an alternate format are used to allow students access to the textbooks for class. This can be considered a classroom accommodations as textbook are often used in class. The books come in various formats, but PDF is the most common. You will have to check with the reader you use to see what works best. Know there is also a procedure to follow from the Office of Disability Services (ODS). Be sure to know the time frames of when to make the request and what ODS requires from you, usually a receipt that you purchased the books. The books are not free, and the student is responsible for having text-to-speech software. If you have questions about what format fits with your assistive technology, contact your college’s disability services office.
2. Class materials are given out before class.
This can be considered another classroom accommodation. The concept of this accommodation is the same at each school but be aware it might be called something different. It gives the dyslexic student time to review the materials ensuring they can take the time to read them. For example, the student can read the power points used in class the day before, so the student does not have to decode them at the moment, losing valuable information from the lecture.
3. Tests read aloud.
In addition to other basic test accommodations like extended time and distraction reduction, the tests are read to the student, so the student does not have to take the time to decode and then reread the question to get comprehension. The critical thing to remember is that the pronunciation of the words needs to be accurate. Although there are many ways to make that happen, it is not the student’s responsibility to do that, but the testing center staff. The student’s responsibility is to work with the testing center staff to schedule this ahead of the day of the test. Make sure you follow the scheduling policy to avoid big problems.
4. Speech-to-text software for tests.
Again, the title says it all. With dyslexia, reading and writing are impacted. This accommodation can assist with the writing component for testing. The student typically uses the software for essay questions, but it can be used for writing, such as short answer questions. Writing and decoding at the same time does not work out for some. However, speech-to-text eliminates that difficulty and allows the student to answer the questions unimpeded by the disability.
5. Reduced course load.
If the student’s Dyslexia is moderate to severe, this may be needed. Dealing with the effects of Dyslexia can take a lot of time outside of class. A reduced course load allows a student to remain listed as a full-time student while taking less than the 12 full-time credits. Typically, it is no less than 9. Students with this accommodation are considered full-time students, which means they get all the benefits of being a full-time student, such as living in the residence halls. Fewer credits mean more time to devote to studies while not sacrificing full-time status. This accommodation has consequences, such as financial aid and possibly taking five years to get a degree. Before agreeing, consult the financial aid office and your academic advisor.
Getting accommodations in higher education is a process. Here’s two articles to help you understand the process further: The Interactive Process: This is not an IEP meeting, and Four Steps to Get Disability Accommodations for College Students. Knowing that process and being prepared for it is essential for students with disabilities. Although there are some commonalities with accommodations across students with disabilities, each student will have a list of accommodations specifically tailored to their needs. Students with dyslexia should understand their disability and what types of accommodations are effective for them.
Yet, knowing the process is only one party. The second and arguably the most important part is the student’s self-report. The self-report is where the student explains their disability, the accommodations and why those accommodations help. To help you and your student prepare for the self-report and request accommodations, my book Self-Advocacy for Higher Education: A Step-by-Step Guide to Preparing to Request Accommodations in College can help. It can ensure you and your student are fully prepared to self-advocate for the accommodations your student needs.
This article outlined some of the may accommodations available. These are just some of the many accommodations that your student may need. The consultation with accessibility staff will determine the best accommodations for your student.
Disclaimer: Regardless of requesting testing accommodations, extended time, or auxiliary aids, each student’s request and needs are evaluated individually. The accommodations mentioned may or may not fit for your specific disability needs. A student must be aware of their disability, their needs, what works for them, and what does not. Thus, the interview with the disability services office is key to determining what disability accommodations are appropriate and reasonable for you. Use the information in this article only as a guide.
To help you navigate the accommodations request process, here is a FREE resource for you. Take the mystery and confusion out of the accommodations request process and get clear on what you need.