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Attorney Paul Grossman on Legal Rights for College Students With LD

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By Kristin Stanberry , Paul Grossman, J.D.

Q: What do you believe drives innovation and change in higher education?

A: Of course many things drive innovation in higher education. But, most certainly, those of us who have disabilities are an engine for innovation and positive change in higher education. When we come to a university and ask to modify how a skill is tested, or ask a college to consider whether a requirement is "essential" or not, what we are really doing is asking for creativity and improvement in the quality of the instruction.

One of my missions in life is to convince colleges and universities that the instructional approaches and techniques that work for individuals with disabilities, often work best for all students. Along with many members of the disability community, I would like to "universalize" the breakthroughs that come from including students with disabilities in higher education. I firmly believe that the disability community must see to it that universal design, as opposed to narrow accommodation, becomes the route to our inclusion in the academic world.

Kristin Stanberry is a writer and editor specializing in parenting, education, and consumer health/wellness issues. Her areas of expertise include learning disabilities and AD/HD, which she wrote about extensively for Schwab Learning and GreatSchools.


Comments from readers

"I was a student at a Nursing School in Sacramento in which I requested accommodations for my disability. I notified school officials as well as the director of nursing and was ignored. Because the program was very new I feel that they were not knowledgeable in dealing with the matter and in fact was asked what 504 accommodations were by the DON. We were also told to take a course that wasn’t required and told that if we did not we could not pass the program. Students were told to go to another school in Solano and take a one day course for $300 dollars and instructed students to bring cash. I refused as I knew this was wrong. I brought this to the attention of the school principal Mrs. Compton and vice Principal Mr. Choate. They had no idea this was being done by the DON (director of nursing) and were confused since the school there had the same course for $45 dollars. But the point was that it was not a required course and was told by the board of nursing that if the cour! se was not required and the DON was threatening to fail students it was fraudulent. They were many issues with the program that I spoke up about for myself and behalf of others that were basically ignored and even threatened if we complained we would be expelled. I even received an email from another teacher that stated that the DON gets rid of people that speak up. After many conversations to the principal and being told by the DON that my disability was an issue for him and he felt I was a “liability� to the nursing field I was dismissed from the program temporarily due to my disability. A complaint was filed and two months later the DON was fired by the district and the principal suddenly retired. I feel that my civil rights were violated by the school as well as discriminated based on my documented disability. "
"Where can I find a lawyer to represent me? I am a student with a LD, and my college refuses to provide academic accommodations, even though the school policy, and section 504 of the ADA, require them to do so. My LD has been documented with a DSM, and I therefore have evidence of my disability. "