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Case example: Learning disability

Accommodations for a college student who has a learning disability

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

Caryn and Visual Arts


My name is Caryn. I am an 18-year-old freshman entering a small private university. I am studying the visual arts and eventually plan to attend graduate school for a masters in fine arts.

Access Issues

Although I'm an art major, I have to take two English courses and four semesters of a second language that are required by the university. I have a language-learning disability which makes it difficult for me to understand and organize large amounts of verbal information. Writing was my most challenging academic area in high school. I was worried that I would not be able to keep up with the course workloads and failing a course my first semester was not an option.


Initially, I did not want to disclose my learning disability. However, I was very worried about these course requirements, especially since it was my first semester of college. I contacted my advisor in the art department and mentioned my concerns. After an appointment with the disabled student services counselor where I presented documentation of my disability, we decided on the following. I was able to substitute the foreign language course requirement for two courses in the social sciences. I also learned about the freshman writing lab. I set up a series of weekly private appointments with a writing tutor to review my English coursework. I borrowed a computer from the disabled student services department equipped with a speech-to-text option to use during the academic year. With this assistive technology, I could speak into the computer and my speech is translated into text. Without this accommodation, my thoughts and writing could become disorganized or jumbled.


  • This case study illustrates that assistance from the campus Disabilities Services Office can help a student with a disability:
  • Obtain program adjustments to meet university coursework requirements.
  • Gain access to accessible electronic and information technology to accommodate her disability.
  • Make use of campus services available to all students.