Skyline Students with learning disabilities have different resources they can use to accommodate the challenges that many of them are having during the coronavirus outbreak.
Many students are having difficulties adjusting to online instruction but students with learning disabilities have other unique challenges that come with having all classes being online.
“One issue has been that students have signed up for classes based on how they learn best. So some students specifically have signed up for in-person classes because they knew that they learn best by having a professor and that in-person interaction and so the move to the online environment has been really disruptive,” said Disability Resources Center Coordinator, Melissa Matthews.
The way online classes are structured is very dependent on the professor because every professor has a different way of teaching their classes and what materials they use; the same way that in-person classes are all different depending on who is teaching the class said Matthews. For students with learning disabilities these differences in teaching styles especially if they are the type of students that learn better with face-to-face classes can cause some challenges.
“There could be a variety of challenges it just kind of depends on how the material is being presented,” said Matthews.
While in-person classes are the preferred method for many students with learning disabilities, there are a lot of online and technological resources that they can use to help them learn.
We do have assistive technology a lot of students receive something called Kurzweil and it’s a text to speech program so what it does is that it reads the screen for students because one thing about the online environment is it may be more text heavy so for students who have difficulty reading or read slowly the switch to online might be a challenge just because of the amount of text they have to process,” said Matthews
If students need more time to take their online tests those accommodations are still available said Matthews. She said that the Disability Resources Center (DRC) made a lot of Zoom appointments for students to go over different methods on how they can best learn in this online environment.
Many students with learning disabilities are probably feeling a lot of stress and anxiety with the transition to online classes.
“Skyline College Personal Counseling is continuing to offer free, confidential, short-term mental health counseling, despite being off campus. Once the campus was closed, we began offering sessions over the phone,” said Perry Chen, LCSW, Skyline College’s full-time personal counselor.
One of the reasons why it has been challenging for every student especially students with learning disabilities to adjust to online classes is because all of these changes happened at the last minute and professors didn’t have a lot of time to prepare.
“If we move into the summer I think having advanced warning as to what is going to happen what their classroom environment may look so if that’s going to be an online environment that’s very helpful and then being able to have the conversation with students in that registration period, so really determining like if this class is going to be online, is that the right class for you at this time, is this the right class for you to take online? If it is, what specific accommodations might need to be set up before the class begins, what access to what technology you might need before the class begins?” said Matthews.