Case example: Health impairment (cancer)

(Used with permission from DO IT:Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking & Technology University of Washington)

Lisa And Law School


My name is Lisa. I was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago. I am currently in my second year of law school.

Access Issues

First I took my documentation from my physicians to the Disabilities Services Office to find out what accommodations I qualify for.  I decided to switch to part-time status after I became ill. The medication I'm taking has some side effects including lapses in concentration. I want to continue my studies, however there are days when I'm too tired or nauseous to attend classes. I also have doctor appointments about every other week. My course of study runs on a quarterly basis and if I miss too many lectures or discussions, I quickly fall behind. I also need to watch my stress level as that can cause some of my symptoms to worsen.


I informed my instructors of the situation prior to each quarter and obtained a course outline and the required assignments before the classes began. I worked out a system of communication with the instructors and my advisor. I do not get penalized if I miss deadlines. If I cannot complete the coursework, I request an incomplete grade and can make up the work within a specified time period. I've also been using the notetaking service which sends me lecture notes on-line following each session. In addition, I have made arrangements with one of the law librarians to manage document requests for me and to send them by postal mail when I am unable to come to the library.


This example illustrates:

  • The importance of instructor flexibility and a self-paced instructional option.
  • How support for accessing materials and information can be provided when a student cannot be physically present.
  • The active role a student can play in coordinating her support services.