Disabled Student Help - Offering Ways of Learning to Some and Not Others
December 3, 2006 11:54am CST
For years I have struggled with reading. I have especially never been able to read a map or follow directions well. But no matter how many times teachers told my parents I should go in for testing for dyslexia or ADD, my parents said those were not real diseases, the teachers were just being lazy and didn't want to try harder to teach me. After a couple years at college, I had talked to some professors about my difficulties. And some teachers that I knew from volunteer organizations. They thought I should finally go in for testing because I could probably do a lot better in school if I had audiobooks instead of having to read. I looked online at some websites as well, and a ton of things really fit the problem I was having. I couldn't read anywhere near as well on white paper as on colored paper. I am always confusing right and left. I can't read a map. I can't do alphabetical order without saying the entire alphabet. I use an electronic dictionary because I couldn't use a paper one to save my life. I frequently get lost. The list goes on and on. Finally, I get up the courage to go to the disabled student help center at the university. When I get there, I take a bunch of tests and they agree that that is likely it. I'm thinking, "Finally! Now I can get my books on audio." But they told me the next step was that I had to be tested elsewhere, and it was going to cost anywhere from $500 to $800. I worked only odd jobs at the time. I had no car to get to the closest testing center (20 miles away). I figured I could ride my bike there, but how to pay for that? I asked if I could just buy the audiobooks since I already was buying textbooks. They said those books were not available to all students. Even though now I have a job, I still can't afford to possibly throw away $800. I've thought about doing it, but every time I wonder if I won't test out as being affected enough or something. Then my $800 was a waste. So instead, I spend my money wisely. I have a laptop now. I can finally take notes. I didn't take notes before because I couldn't write fast enough to keep up and my writing was too messy to read later anyway. Besides, notes are generally useless when a lot of the things you saw on the board are out of order. But I can type at the speed of dictation, so I don't type from what I see on the board, I just listen to the professor and type (I hate professors who just write, I generally have to drop their class). I also got some computer reading software. If I have to read an article online for homework, my computer can read it to me and it highlights the words as I go, so I learn. If I have to read a long article on paper, I got software where I can just scan it and put it into the computer. But all of these things cost more than $800. And I also buy anything on audio that I can. But they're all guaranteed help. Why can't schools let all students learn by audio? Isn't it a bit unfair anyway that they only give this option to certified disabled students? I think even non-dyslexic students might be more likely to learn by audiobooks instead of reading. Why doesn't everyone have the option? I think this could be a form of discrimination. What do you think?
3 Dec 06
i think its really unfortunate that you didnt receive any support from your parents and that it was so difficult for you to get the help you needed, but good for you for doing what you could. i think audiobooks are too expensive, so that's why there arent many schools that offer them for their students. but i know that you can get help at school in the way of tutors. i tutored one of my friends during my freshman year who had the same problems you do and had a lot of difficulty reading. i would read short texts aloud for him..and i even got paid for it...but i know that's really difficult when it comes to longer texts. many novels, however, do come in audio format..and you could probably get them at the library or online..
• United States
4 Dec 06
But the audiobooks actually are available. They are already made and in the school catalog, so it wouldn't cost them extra money to let me use those already available. Some books aren't on audio, but over the years, a lot I have needed are, but they are only available to disabled students and are not sold in stores. I can't get help from the school with tutors either until I spend $800 for testing. I have been able to go to free tutoring programs though previously. I do usually buy novels on audio (the library out here is a joke when it comes to their audio section). But the problem is that I only read novels for GE courses. Now I'm reading a bunch of long awful science texts. Which are amazingly on audio, just not made available to me.
• Marion, Kansas
3 Dec 06
Congratulations on being a survivor, even if your parents did not support you in this area. You must be very smart to have been admitted to college in spite of your learning disabilities. You have described many coping skills that are usually taught to diabled students. I think your money was better spent on the equipment you bought than on more tests. Unless you are determined to try to receive diability payments from the government, I am not sure how much good this testing would do for you. The software, laptop, and audio materials are all doing you a lot of good. Not all students are auditory learners, you obviously are. Some are visual, need the notes, others are kinesthetic, need movement or tactile input to imprint learning. I do not understand why they will not sell you books on tape. Have you checked other places than the school bookstore? There are organizations that generally are for blind and visually impaired that perhaps could help you. What I understand from your post is that what you have done has solved your problem, but it still burns you that you did not get help from the college or university.Is this discrimination, I am not sure. I feel like it should be a buyer driven economy--you have a need or desire for the audio books, you are willing to buy, they should be willing to sell. You have outdone them by buying the things you have to help you, they lose a sale. It may be that they do not make as large a profit on audio books as they do on hard copy books. Would you want to take the chance of a lawsuit to prove discrimination, I doubt it, that would also risk a waste of your money. You sound determined and resourceful in your pursuit of learning. Good wishes for you.
• United States
3 Dec 06
I don't need disability payments, the only thing I really wished I could have is audiobooks. If I pay someone to make my textbooks on audio, I've found it generally costs around $28 per hour. Yikes! So I wish I could have audiobooks, but if it isn't guaranteed, I'm unlikely to pay $800. I think I probably have a lot of coping skills. And I'm luckily good at remembering things I hear. So I can hear a lecture and remember it for the test. But if something was in the book and not the lecture, I probably am not going to get that. I have checked other places besides the school bookstore, but these books aren't offered elsewhere. The recordings I think may have been made by student readers. You can volunteer to read textbooks for the disabled at our school, so maybe you can also volunteer to record them. I've thought about volunteering to take notes for others now that I have a laptop. But the problem is, I can only do it if the instructor says everything instead of writing it down. I wouldn't want to mess up someone else's notes like I do with my own if I'm copying written material. I have mostly solved the problem, except for where reading the texts is concerned. I have found that for a lot of classes, my method of attending all lectures but not understanding what I read or not reading at all ends up being my downfall and why my GPA is so low. I don't think the school makes a profit at all on audiobooks. I think they are given to disabled students free from the sound of it. I am not even asking for them free, I just can't afford someone to make one for me at $28 per hour of recording. I haven't even been able to fill out the paperwork to sue a company that I worked for and still owes me $1,600. So I am most likely not going to be suing the school for discrimination because I cannot afford to hire someone and cannot do all that paperwork myself. I am finally going to attempt going through all the paperwork this winter break though, to get my $1,600 from Petco.