Our college has been working toward the goal of full accessibility for years. Though we have more work to accomplish, we have made great progress. A real test of accessibility will occur, though, when our department supports a student with total blindness in our general biology classes.
We have a lot of experience supporting students with disabilities in a lecture setting. Our Center for Accessibility (CFA) excels at coordinating with faculty and the students to ensure that the accommodations are meeting their needs. Despite the experience and training of CFA personnel, however, they often do not know how to support students with disabilities in specific science laboratory activities. And it’s the lab experience that is so challenging in a science class, because it’s important that the accommodations provided enable a lab experience comparable to that of the non-disabled students.
So far, we haven’t had a student with total blindness in general biology, the most visual of the sciences, and as I said, that will be the real test. What can we do/should we do to prepare? If you received news that a student with total blindness would be in your general biology class, are you ready? What information would you want? What would be your concerns? I want to create a helpful, organizational guide, and I’d sure appreciate your considerations, questions and suggestions. Please email them to me!