written & compiled by Sarah Nixon-Ponder
"Is your learning program capable of accommodating a student with a disability?"
Program directors, instructors, tutors and staff need to be prepared for such a question. One program director recently told an OLRC staff person that she had received a noticeably higher number of calls this year from potential students with hearing and vision disabilities.
What can you do if a person with a disability comes to your center and asks for help? Who can you call? Where can you go for assistance?
The OLRC has been researching this area so that we will be able to assist you when and if this situation occurs. The following information and suggestions have been gathered from experts in the field. Since this field is so large, we have focused on disabilities dealing with vision and hearing. However, we have also included some general information.
Persons who have had vision or hearing disabilities throughout their lives know the resources that are available to them. They have learned of these resources from others in the community with similar disabilities, as well as from their doctors.
Persons whose disabilities have occurred later in their lives (as a result of an accident or a progressive disease) have most likely sought the assistance of doctors and have been referred to agencies such as Vocational Rehabilitation. Voc Rehab does an evaluation and makes sure that the person receives the proper treatment and education necessary for a smooth return to a productive life.
The likelihood of a person with visual or hearing disabilities just "showing up" in your program without any knowledge of resources is small. Nevertheless, if such a person arrives at your center asking for assistance, you are legally obligated to make reasonable accommodations to meet that person's legitimate needs. Therefore, it is in your best interest as well as the student's to find out all of the pertinent information about this person, such as: How was this person referred to your program? What agencies and associations is she/he utilizing? Who is the case worker? What is the case worker's phone number? What are this person's special needs? What accommodations will she/he require?
If you are a school district program, your first step is to contact your department of special education services to find out what help they can provide. Your next move is to contact the case worker to find out additional information that would be relevant to your learning program.
If you find that the potential learner is not receiving services from an agency or organization, don't panic. Remember that you are not alone. Agencies and associations are available to assist you with this situation. The following list has been compiled to help you locate them and inform you of the services and materials they can provide.
A packet of information has been given to the Regional Resource Centers and the Ohio Literacy Network (OLN). It contains booklets, pamphlets and brochures that describe some of the following agencies in more detail. Please take the time to review these materials; they will be very helpful to you in the future when you are faced with a request to accommodate a student with a disability. In the meantime, the OLRC will continue our research on this topic.
Persons with disabilities have special needs, and because of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), you are legally required to meet those needs. It is necessary that you make the effort to service people with disabilities to the best of your ability. Besure to keep accurate documentation on everything you do. We suggest that you set up a learning plan for your student(s) with disabilities and keep close record of their progress. But also keep in mind that people with disabilities are only trying to improve their lives just like the other learners in your program.
SERVICES FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES OHIO REHABILITATION SERVICES COMMISSION AT 1-800-282-4536, EXT. 1200, for general information and office locations.
GOVERNOR'S COUNCIL ON PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES AT 1-800-282-4536, EXT 1391.
SERVICES FOR PERSONS WITH VISUAL DISABILITIES BUREAU OF SERVICES FOR THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED AT (614) 428-1255 or (614) 466-7730.
Contact person: Elizabeth Aino.
OHIO RESOURCE CENTER FOR THE BLIND AT (614) 262-6131 or 1-800-ORCLISH.
Contact person: Addie Bey.
RECORDINGS FOR THE BLIND AT 1-800-221-4792.
Contact person: Susan.
VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION DEPARTMENT FOR THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED AT (216) 777-3390.
Contact person: Bob Breckenridge.
CLEVELAND SIGHT CENTER AT (216) 791-8118.
Contact person: Gail Lynch.
SERVICES FOR THE HARD-OF-HEARING AND DEAF OHIO RESOURCE CENTER ON DEAFNESS AT(614) 274-7000.
Contact person: Mary Ellen Minyon.
COLUMBUS SPEECH AND HEARING CENTER AT (614) 263-5151.
Contact person: Joanne Shannon.
OHIO ALLIANCE OF COMMUNITY CENTERS FOR THE DEAF