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Office of Disability Support Services
Faculty Handbook

Other Disabilities

General Information

Many disabilities are not readily apparent. The more prevalent hidden disabilities include seizure disorders, diabetes, cardiac conditions, allergies, kidney conditions, chronic back pain, and several musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders.

The academic support services, test adaptations, special equipment and devices, and other accommodations offered to students with disabilities in the specific categories discussed earlier in the book are also available to students with disabilities which are not readily apparent. Some students with the above disabilities may be reluctant to discuss their special needs with faculty and staff members.


Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which clusters of nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain sometimes signal abnormally. In epilepsy, the normal pattern of neuronal activity becomes disturbed, causing strange sensations, emotions, and behavior or sometimes convulsions, muscle spasms, and loss of consciousness.  Epilepsy is a disorder with many possible causes.  Anything that disturbs the normal pattern of neuron activity -- from illness to brain damage to abnormal brain development  --  can lead to seizures.  Epilepsy may develop because of an abnormality in brain wiring, an imbalance of nerve signaling chemicals called neurotransmitters, or some combination of these factors.


Short Stature

Students may encounter in-classroom access difficulties.


Students who have an ostomy (urostomy, colostomy, ileostomy) may be advised not to participate in contact sports. Most restrictions on participation, however, will be the result of causes other than the ostomy itself. Swimming is permissible for these students. Some students with ostomies may be shy showering in a physical education setting and the student's privacy should be in all ways respected. A little support and encouragement from the instructor and the other students in the class will help the student overcome this shyness.


Spina bifida (open spine)

Students may have an ostomy. The student with Spina Bifida may have short stature and may use a wheelchair, braces or crutches.

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD)

Students with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) frequently exhibit inattentiveness, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity. (NOTE: they may have AD/HD without hyperactivity.) They may have difficulty concentrating in class or organizing their work. They may interrupt others or stray from the subject. They may also fidget or move about excessively. Most individuals with AD/HD can control their symptoms through a balanced treatment or education about their condition, counseling and medication. Some of them may have Learning Disabilities.


Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

The number one cause of chronic disability among young adults, may affect the student in a multitude of ways. Since MS most often occurs between the ages of 20 and 40, the college student with MS is apt to be currently adjusting to his or her disability. Depending on the degree to which the MS has progressed, the student's mobility, speech, vision, and emotional state may be affected. One of the most difficult aspects of MS is that the symptoms have a tendency to come and go, but they continue to progress. In between periods may last from a few days to months in the early stages. The student may appear as if he/she is intoxicated and show indication of having slurred speech, staggering, and unfocused eyes. Understanding the fluctuations that may occur in the student's behavior make it easier to understand variations in classroom performance. The physical adaptations required by the student with MS, if any, will vary from student to student, depending on functional limitation. The most common adaptations required have been discussed in previous sections.

The following is a short list of do's and don'ts so the instructor will be prepared in the unlikely event that a seizure occurs during class. Students should also inform the instructor if they prefer specific actions to be followed should they have a seizure.

  1. Instructors should contact Public Safety.
  2. Remain calm. Please keep in mind that other students will tend to mirror the emotional reaction of the instructor. Note: the seizure is painless.
  3. Do not try to restrain the person. There is nothing you can do to stop the seizure once it has begun. It must run its course.
  4. Clear the area around the individual so that he/she does not injure him/herself on hard or sharp objects. Try not to interfere with movements in any way.
  5. Don't force anything between the person's teeth. If the person's mouth is already opened, you might place a soft object like a handkerchief between the side teeth.
  6. It isn't generally necessary to call a doctor unless the attack is followed almost immediately by another major seizure or the seizure lasts more than 10 minutes.
  7. When the seizure is over, let the person rest if he/she needs to.
  8. Turn the incident into a learning experience for the class. You might clarify that the seizure is not contagious and explain these steps.


Suggested Classroom Accommodations
for Students with Other Disabilities

Information regarding Instructor Memos

Specific accommodations will need to be individually tailored because these students will vary depending on the type and degree of their impairment. Usually, a combination of adaptive methods is the best approach.

  • When and where appropriate, utilize Reader Services to administer tests. Discuss testing arrangements early in the semester.
  • Contact ODSS concerning matters of classroom accommodations. 
  • Encourage the use of note takers or tape recording of lectures. NCR (carbonless paper) paper may be obtained in ODSS. If a student requires a note taker, it is the student's responsibility to provide the instructor with the carbonless paper. The instructor is to ask for a volunteer without disclosing the student's name, thus maintaining confidentiality. Arrangements to pick-up the notes from the instructor are to be made by the student. 
  • Restructure laboratory experiences to include the use of a partner for students with mobility/dexterity impairments. 
  • Work with students to arrange for appropriate time for completion of class assignments and exams. 
  • Be realistic in seeking solutions when a student experiences difficulty arriving to class in a timely fashion. 
  • Allow for adequate break time so that the student can attend to such physical needs as stretching, medication, and restroom use.


Test Adaptation and Administration
for Students with Other Disabilities

  • Please refer to previous sections. Depending on the disability, a combination of accommodations already stated may be the most appropriate.

Tips for Positive Communication
with Students with Other Disabilities

  • It is the student's responsibility to inform faculty and staff members of the special accommodations and adaptations they require. 
  • Variations in a student's performance caused by medication may present problems that require appropriate modifications. If a faculty or staff member has valid questions about the effect of the medications a student is taking, it is appropriate to discuss these issues with the student. 
  • Faculty or staff members in need of further verifications of a student's disability or requested accommodations should contact ODSS. 
  • Students with mobility limitations will ask for assistance when necessary. Do not assume that assistance is needed at all times. 
  • When conversing with someone in a wheelchair, sit at that person's eye level whenever possible. 
  • Leaning on a wheelchair is tantamount to leaning on a person's shoulder and it is an invasion of personal space. 
  • When discussing a student's disability, accommodation and adaptation needs, talk only about needs that are relevant to the successful completion of course work. 
  • Keep all information strictly confidential.
  • Ask the student to repeat statements misunderstood due to his or her disability.


Office of Disability Support Services at Lansing Community College

Disability Support Services
Gannon Building - StarZone
Phone: (517) 483-1924
Additional contact information »