Universities are providing extra time on tests, quiet exam rooms, in-class note-takers, and other assistance to college students with modest learning disabilities. But these policies are shrouded in secrecy. This paper, “Accommodating College Students with Learning Disabilities: ADD, ADHD, and Dyslexia,” by Melana Zyla Vickers, examines the nature of this assistance and discusses the policy questions it raises.
This research report is based on interviews with on-campus experts in learning disabilities, professors who deal with learning-disabled students, and students themselves. It incorporates statistics showing the rise in accommodations for college students' mild learning disabilities. The paper is not about severe disabilities such as autism, brain injuries, or visual or hearing impairment.
The rise in accommodation by universities has been fueled by changing diagnoses of learning disabilities and by federal laws. Federal requirements are not, however, as demanding as are laws that apply to K-12 students. Those requirements could change, however, depending on the outcome of a court case currently under consideration.
The author, Melana Zyla Vickers, is a widely published journalist who writes editorials on education and public policy for USA Today. She also is a regular contributor to the Weekly Standard and National Review Online and has appeared on the PBS show Newshour, CNN, Fox, and other news channels. Her previous report for the Pope Center was “An Empty Room of One’s Own.”
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