The range of diagnoses in this category is large and includes chronic health conditions, such as migraines, irritable bowel disorders, narcolepsy, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cancers, epilepsy, among others. The majority of medical conditions are invisible. Symptoms may unexpectedly change or fluctuate over time or throughout a single day and may require rest, treatment or hospitalization. Medical conditions may impact cognitive and physical functioning.
Barriers to Access
- Unexpected disruptions to schedules and routines due to fluctuating symptoms which may impact attendance or meeting deadlines
- Slowed cognition or focus due to symptoms or side effects of medication/treatment
- Expectations to remain in one position for extended periods of time
- Inability to access restroom or medication when needed
- Expectations to complete physical tasks, including walking, writing, or typing
Considerations and Tips for Improving Accessibility
Students’ accommodation letters outline the accommodations they are approved for with D&A. Following delivery by the student, instructors must provide each reasonable accommodation listed. The following list includes suggested instructional tips and practices to consider in addition to the provision of ADA accommodations. (Information about a student’s disability is confidential with Disability & Access, and while a student may choose to disclose their disability, this information cannot be requested by instructors).
- Offer flexibility where possible; dealing with unexpected changes in symptoms or treatment may mean attendance or deadlines are impacted
- Provide options; give students multiple ways to learn material and demonstrate knowledge
- Build in breaks; which allows students to manage medication, use the restroom, change positions, etc.
- Communicate clearly; outline what flexibility and options are available and where there may be limited options so students can plan accordingly.
- Engage in conversation; students usually know what works best for them and sometimes a simple adjustment can make a big difference. Be willing to listen and problem solve together.
- Believe and validate; students with invisible disabilities are sometimes not believed or taken seriously because their disability/symptom cannot be seen. Believing what students choose to share with you creates an environment where students will feel respected and validated.
- Counseling and Mental Health Center Identity-Based Support Groups: UT’s CHMC offers a selection of identity-based support groups each semester. Previous disability-related offerings have included: Everything All at Once (ADHD), Free to be ND, and Connecting Around Chronicity, See their webpage for a current list of offerings.
- Managing Chronic Health Conditions in School
- EduMed Online Guide for College Students with Chronic Health Conditions
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