Disability Information

General

The following pages provide general information about various disability populations we are working with here at UConn, suggest modifications and accommodations that may be appropriate based on the condition, and include additional outside resources. The websites listed are for informational purposes only. Inclusion on this list does not constitute an endorsement by the CSD.

  • American Network of Community Options and Resources
    ANCOR is a non-profit trade association representing private providers who provide supports and services to people with disabilities. ANCOR is distinguished in this industry by its balance of leading practices resources and advocacy for member agencies and the people and families they serve and support.
  • Disability History Museum
    The Disability History Museum’s mission is to promote understanding of the historical experience of people with disabilities by recovering, chronicling, and interpreting their stories.  Our goal is to help foster a deeper understanding of disability and to dispel lingering myths, assumptions, and stereotypes by examining these cultural legacies.
  • Disability Resources: U.S. Department of Labor
    Disability resource information on topics including, benefits, civil rights, community life, education, employment, emergency preparedness, health, housing, technology, and transportation.
  • Disability Resources: Connecticut
    Disability Resources allows one to search their state to find disability organizations or agencies in relation to career development.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder is defined by “persistent impairment in reciprocal social communication and social interaction and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities” (DSM-5, 2013, p. 53). Symptoms of this disorder are present from childhood and limit or impair day to day functioning. The disorder manifests differently and may vary greatly among individuals based on severity, age, and development. Some common features of this disorder include impairment in social-emotional reciprocity (i.e. one-sided communication, not sharing emotions), difficulties with developing or maintaining relationships, and hyper- or hypo-reactivity to sensory input.

Web Resources

The websites listed below are for informational purposes only. Inclusion on this list does not constitute an endorsement by the CSD.
  • AHEADD AHEADD (Achieving in Higher Education with Autism/Developmental Disabilities) is a private, community organization that provides support for students in higher education with Learning Disabilities, High-Functioning Autism (HFA), Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), Non-Verbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
  • Aspergers Association of New England The Asperger’s Association of New England (AANE)’s mission is to foster awareness, respect, acceptance, and support for individuals with AS and related conditions and their families.
  • Autism Society of America The mission of the Autism Society of America is to promote lifelong access and opportunities for persons within the autism spectrum and their families to be fully included, participating members of their communities through advocacy, public awareness, education, and research related to autism.
  • Coulter Video: Autism Spectrum Disorders Explore this site to read articles written through a first-hand experience of a student with Asperger’s and his parents. Learn about the journey through his childhood and college years.
  • Yale Developmental Disabilities Clinic This site provides information about clinical and research services at the Developmental Disabilities Section at the Yale Child Study Center, as well as publications on autism, Asperger Syndrome, and related disorders; lists of resources organized by state; and links with many clinical and research groups, as well as parent support or organizations and advocacy agencies.
  • OCALI This site provides research and resources about autism. They also offer training and provide a guide to assessment.
  • ASQuarterly A digital publication that provides up to date information about research, treatments, and care. Shares information about autism in lifespan stages.

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), “the essential feature of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a persistent pattern of inattention and /or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p. 61). ADHD is a neurobiological disability with symptoms of inattention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity that appear in early childhood, are relatively chronic in nature, and are not due to other physical, mental, emotional, or developmental causes. There are three basic types: Predominantly Inattentive presentation, Predominantly hyperactive/impulsive presentation, and Combined presentation. ADHD can cause impairment in executive functioning abilities such as difficulty sustaining focus, organization, time management, and motivation to begin tasks.

Web Resources

The websites listed below are for informational purposes only. Inclusion on this list does not constitute an endorsement by the CSD.
  • ADDA- Attention Deficit Disorder Association  The Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) is the world’s leading adult ADHD organization. Their mission is to provide information, resources, and networking opportunities to help adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) lead better lives.
  • ADHD Module Visit this module by the UConn Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability to read about students with ADHD and get resources, information, and support.

Chronic Health Disabilities

Students may have medical conditions that are “invisible” (not easy to see), but cause serious problems in an educational setting. Students can be disabled by chronic illnesses such as asthma, allergies, arthritis, diabetes, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, Lyme disease, migraines, cardiac conditions, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, seizure disorders, among many others. Symptoms of all these conditions can be unpredictable and fluctuate. Students with chronic illnesses or pain may have limited energy and difficulty walking, standing, or sitting for a long time. Some medical conditions may cause students to become dizzy and disoriented, or they may lack physical stamina. Thus, they may be unable to get quickly from one location on campus to another. In addition, students may miss class occasionally due to exacerbations, flare-ups, or treatment schedules. Medical conditions, including medication side effects, can cause problems with fatigue and stamina, which can adversely affect attention and concentration.

Web Resources

The websites listed are for informational purposes only. Inclusion on this list does not constitute an endorsement by the CSD.
  • The College Diabetes Network (CDN) The CDN assists young adults and their families during this challenging transition period by providing tools and support for success. The following form may be completed to request materials including CDN brochures, Off to College materials, Off to College Booklets, Off to College Event Hosting Kits, and more.
  • Explore the Frontiers of Chronic Care The web has a variety of sites devoted to the topics covered by “Who Cares: Chronic Illness in America”. This site lists a number of excellent resources on chronic care and chronic illnesses. There are medical news stories, the latest research on various diseases, and online communities. They are sponsored by professional associations, patient groups, and the federal government.
  • FARE College: Resources for College Students Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) supports colleges and universities with training and free resources through the FARE College Food Allergy Program. Learn more about the program and resources you can share with your university.
  • Invisible Disabilities Association The Invisible Disabilities® Association (IDA) encourages, educates and connects people and organizations touched by illness, pain and disability around the globe.
  • UConn Nutrition & Physical Activity Services UConn Nutrition and Physical Activity Services offers students nutritional and physical activity counseling, as well as resources and support groups. UCONN S.H.A.P.E. is a peer education group that strives to promote accepting attitudes towards all body shapes and sizes while helping to encourage self-esteem and positive body image.
  • UConn Student Health Services- Diabetes Resource UConn Student Health Services offers a variety of resources for student’s needs. For students with diabetes who require testing, Student Health Services offers free sharps containers and disposal.

Communication Disorders

Communication Disorders include any impairment in speech, language, or communication. These disorders can affect verbal and nonverbal behavior, sound articulation, and the use of written/spoken, or sign language. Examples of communication disorders include the following diagnoses: Language Disorder (difficulties in expressive/receptive language), Childhood-Onset Fluency Disorder (Stuttering), Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder (difficulties in verbal and nonverbal communication in a social setting).

Web Resources

  • Understood Understood is a team of 15 nonprofit organizations that serve to provide resources and support for learning and attention difficulties.
  • ASHA Professional and accrediting association for audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and hearing scientists. Provides information and resources about communication disorder.

Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing

Hearing impairment is a broad term that refers to varying degrees of hearing loss from partial to total deafness. Age of onset plays a crucial role in the development of language; persons with prelingual hearing loss often have weaker oral communication skills than those whose loss occurred after speech development. Many students with hearing disabilities use a variety of communication methods, including: lipreading, amplification, American Sign Language (ASL) and Computer Assisted Real Time Captioning (CART). Lipreading, experts say, can only make 30 to 40 percent of spoken English distinguishable under the most favorable conditions. Students with severe hearing loss (needing over 90 dB of amplification to hear "normally") often cannot benefit much using hearing aids. These students may use ASL to communicate more effectively. American Sign Language (ASL) uses hand shapes, positions, movements, facial expressions and body movements to convey meaning. ASL uses an alphabet (finger spelling), signs representing ideas and gestures. ASL is an independent language that has its own grammar and syntax; it is not simply a manual version of English. Sign languages vary from country to country in exactly the same way that spoken languages vary from country to country. (Source: www.nchearingloss.org/asl.htm) Students who communicate with speech and lipreading, as opposed to communicating manually with ASL, are referred to as "oral." Students with manual communication skills may use interpreters with them in class; oral interpreters "mouth" what is being said, and manual interpreters use sign language. The two methods are often combined. At first the interpreter may seem a distraction, but this soon wanes as the professor and the class get accustomed to the interpreter's presence. Some students with hearing loss may have enough residual hearing to benefit from personal FM transmitter/receiver units to which professors again can quickly adjust.

Suggested Modifications and Accommodations

  • Students who are hard of hearing often require front row seating to ensure an unobstructed view of the professor.
  • When an interpreter is used, speak to the student, not to the interpreter.
  • Speak naturally without exaggerating lip movement or volume.
  • During class discussions, ensure that no more than one person speaks at a time.
  • Repeat questions and remarks made by other students.
  • Use visual media as much as possible in presenting course-related information, including class announcements and schedule changes.
  • Avoid giving information while handing out papers or writing on a chalkboard.
  • Use captioned videos whenever possible. When showing uncaptioned videos, slides, or movies provide an outline or summary in advance.
  • If the classroom must be darkened, be sure that the student's interpreter is clearly visible.
  • When reading directly from text, provide an advance copy and pause slightly when interjecting information not in the text.
  • When working with the chalkboard or an overhead projection system, pause briefly so that the student may look first at the board/screen, and then at the interpreter, to see what is being said.
  • When evaluating written material from students with hearing disabilities, take into consideration that their primary language may not be English.
  • Extended time may be necessary for testing.
  • Oral tests can be administered with the aid of an interpreter and/or the Center for Students with Disabilities.

For additional information, please refer to the following resource:

PEPNet-Northeast – based at the Rochester Institute of Technology, home of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, is one of four regional centers funded by the Department of Education. The mission of the PEPNet-Northeast is to assist secondary and postsecondary institutions to improve educational access and enhance educational opportunities for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Please visit: http://pepnet.org/ for additional information.

Learning Disabilities

Specific Learning Disorder

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), Specific Learning Disorder is a “neurodevelopmental disorder[s] with a biological origin that is the basis for abnormalities at a cognitive level… which affect the brain’s ability to perceive or process verbal or nonverbal information efficiently and accurately” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p. 68). Specific Learning Disorder has three subsets: With impairment in reading (Reading Disorder/Dyslexia), With impairment in written expression (Dysgraphia), With impairment in mathematics (Math Disorder/Dyscalculia).  

Web Resources

The websites listed below are for informational purposes only. Inclusion on this list does not constitute an endorsement by the CSD.
  • Council for Learning Disabilities The Council for Learning Disabilities (CLD) is an international organization concerned about issues related to students with learning disabilities. Working to build a better future for students with LD has been the primary goal of CLD for more than 20 years.
  • Educational Testing Service This section provides information to applicants with disabilities who seek approval of reasonable testing accommodations. Please review all of the materials before submitting your request. Application forms may be obtained by linking to specific testing programs listed.
  • LD Online LD OnLine.org is the world’s leading web site on learning disabilities and ADHD, serving more than 200,000 parents, teachers, and other professionals each month.  LD OnLine seeks to help children and adults reach their full potential by providing accurate and up-to-date information and advice about learning disabilities and ADHD.
  • Learning Disabilities Association of America Since 1963, LDA has provided support to people with learning disabilities, their parents, teachers, and other professionals. At the national, state and local levels, LDA provides cutting edge information on learning disabilities, practical solutions, and a comprehensive network of resources. These services make the Learning Disabilities Association of America the leading resource for information on learning disabilities.
  • Learning Disabilities Association of Connecticut, Inc. LDA of Connecticut is a non-profit organization of parents, professionals, and persons with learning disabilities. We are dedicated to promoting a better understanding of learning disabilities and securing appropriate educational and employment opportunities for children and adults with learning disabilities and related disorders.
  • National Center for Learning Disabilities NCLD provides essential information to parents, professionals and individuals with learning disabilities, promotes research and programs to foster effective learning and advocates for policies to protect and strengthen educational rights and opportunities.

Neurological Conditions


The World Health Organization (WHO) defines Neurological conditions as “diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system”. These conditions include, and are not limited to, spinal cord injuries, head injuries/traumatic brain injuries, migraines, headache disorders, brain tumors, epilepsy or seizure disorders, Tourette’s syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease. Source: http://www.who.int/features/qa/55/en/

Seizure disorders- FAQs:

What is a seizure disorder?
A seizure disorder is a central nervous system disorder in which the nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed. Seizures can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. Seizure disorders are generally controlled by medication. Symptoms of a seizure can vary and may include temporary confusion, unresponsiveness and staring, strange smell, sound, feeling, taste, or visual images, sudden tiredness or dizziness, stiffening of the body, breathing problems, uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs, and/or loss of consciousness.

How will I know if a student in my class has a seizure disorder?
The CSD engages in an interactive process and meet with students on an individualized, case-by-case basis to determine reasonable and appropriate accommodations. In collaboration with the student, the CSD will generate an accommodation letter that indicates the student has a documented seizure disorder as well as any approved accommodations.

What do I do if a student has a seizure during class?
Faculty members are strongly encouraged to call 911 in the event a student has a seizure in class. The CSD communicates with the UConn Department of Public Safety regarding students with seizure disorders.  Emergency medical personnel are trained to respond and can determine whether the student requires transport to a medical facility.

After calling 911:
  • Keep calm, let the seizure take its course and do not try and stop it
  • If possible, put something soft under the student’s head
  • Instruct other students to move to the hallway
  • Protect the student from further injury if possible- move away any desks, chairs, or other objects that could cause harm
  • Do not force anything in the student’s mouth- this may cause injuries
  • Roll the student on their side as soon as it is possible- this allows for saliva or other fluids to drain away helping to keep the airway clear
  • Try to monitor what the student is doing so that you can describe the seizure to the emergency medical personnel. This may include:
    • What kind of body movement occurred?
    • How long did the seizure last?
    • Any there any injuries from the seizure?

Web Resources

The websites listed are for informational purposes only. Inclusion on this list does not constitute an endorsement by the CSD.
  • The Epilepsy Foundation The Epilepsy Foundation is a family-led, community-based organization with nearly 50 local organizations across the country. Their network offers programs and services for people impacted by seizures and their family, friends, and local community.
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is an Institute within the National Institutes of Health that aims to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease.
  • NINDS Diseases From A-Z NINDS Disorders is an index of neurological conditions provided by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. This valuable tool offers detailed descriptions, facts on treatment and prognosis, and patient organization contact information for over 500 identified neurological disorders.

Physical/Mobility Conditions

A wide range of conditions may limit a student’s mobility and/or energy. These may include cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and amputations or other severe physical injuries. Mobility disabilities may be temporary or permanent, and vary from student to student. Some students may use canes, crutches, braces, prostheses, scooters, or wheelchairs to assist with mobility. Perhaps the biggest obstacle may be getting to class on time. Lateness or absences from class may be due to transportation problems, inclement weather, elevator or equipment breakdown, or a side effect of the disability itself (such as fatigue). Physical dexterity conditions may result from illness or injury. In this age of computers, increasing numbers of students are developing carpal tunnel syndrome, which may cause them to experience severe pain when taking notes or writing exams.

Web Resources

The websites listed are for informational purposes only. Inclusion on this list does not constitute an endorsement by the CSD.
  • Cerebal Palsy Guide The Cerebral Palsy Guide provides free educational materials, financial options and emotional support for those affected by cerebral palsy.
  • United Spinal Association- Spinal Cord Resource Center This site lists state and local resources for United Spinal Association Chapters, local SCI/D support groups, Model System and CARF-accredited rehab facilities, Centers for Independent Living, State programs, and much more!

Psychological/Psychiatric Conditions

Students with psychological or psychiatric disabilities represent a growing population on our campuses. Such disabilities may include severe depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorders. Although these conditions are “invisible”, they often impact a student’s learning experience. Psychological disabilities are often not well understood and accepted in our society, and many students with psychological disabilities have good reason to fear the reactions of others. Students report difficulties with focusing, concentrating, and completing work in a timely fashion. Reading, writing, and math may require extra effort and more time. Ability to function effectively may vary from day to day. Students may experience an increase in symptoms in response to stress. Medications help with some symptoms of psychological disability, but medication side effects (for example, drowsiness or headaches) can contribute to a student’s academic problems. We suggest that you review our suggestions about learning disabilities and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder; a number of these suggestions will also be appropriate for students with psychological disabilities.

Web Resources

The websites listed below are for informational purposes only. Inclusion on this list does not constitute an endorsement by the CSD.
  • College Guide for Students with Psychiatric Disabilities The team at BestColleges.com realized those struggling with mental illness contend with a true disability that requires the full support of their learning community. They published this guide as a way to start a conversation about this issue.
  • Go Ask Alice! Go Ask Alice! is Columbia University’s health Q and A Internet site! Alice is glad you’re here, and hopes you’ll browse the archives in search of the answers to your health questions.
  • National Institute of Mental Health< The NIMH mission is to reduce the burden of mental illness and behavioral disorders through research on mind, brain, and behavior. This public health mandate demands that we harness powerful scientific tools to achieve better understanding, treatment, and eventually, prevention of these disabling conditions that affect millions of Americans./li>
  • ULifeline.org Ulifeline.org is an anonymous and confidential service offered to students who may be experiencing depression, anxiety, and many other issues. Resources are available for students to learn more about mental health, including: alcohol, drugs, stress, sleep, depression and suicide prevention.

Speech/Language Impairments

Speech impairments can have many causes: dysfluencies such as stuttering, neurological conditions such as Tourette's Syndrome, surgical removal of the larynx, stroke, traumatic head injury, and degenerative illness. Students with speech impairments may communicate in various ways. Some students speak with their own voices, but slowly and with some lack of clarity; other students write notes, point to communication boards, use electronic speech-synthesizers, or communicate through assistants who interpret their speech to other people.

Suggested Modifications and Accommodations

  • In communicating with students who have speech impairments, resist the temptation to indicate that you have understood when in fact you have not. Students with speech impairments are accustomed to being asked to repeat, so don't be afraid that you'll offend them if you ask them to "say it again" or to spell words that you can't decipher.
  • When students have speech impairments, meet with them early in the semester to discuss their communication styles and how they can best function in your classroom. Will they be able to answer if you call on them? Will they be able to ask questions and make comments during class discussions, or do oral presentations? If not, are there other ways the students can demonstrate competency: for example, by completing an extra essay or project
  • If a communication assistant accompanies the student to class, address your comments and questions to the student rather than the assistant.

Visual Impairments

Similar to people with varying degrees of hearing impairments, it is less common for someone to be completely blind. In actuality, their ability to see may exist anywhere along a continuum from sighted to blind. In addition, the amount of usable sight varies from person to person, and visual acuity may change under differing light conditions. Vision is measured in terms of how much can be seen (peripheral field of vision) and how clearly it can be seen (visual acuity).
  • Legal blindness means having between zero and 10% or normal visual acuity in both eyes (20/200 vision or less), and or 20% or less of normal peripheral vision in both eyes. In other words, this person, while wearing glasses, can see less at 20 feet than a person with normal vision can see at 200 feet.
  • Low vision or partially sighted means having visual acuity and/or field vision that is less than normal, or having a visual limitation in only one eye. Visual disabilities vary and it is often difficult to detect such a student in the classroom. Some students may use service dogs that are trained to move at the direction of the student. It is important to note that service dogs are not to be petted or distracted in any way while they are “working”. Service dogs are allowed by law in all college buildings, including laboratories, food service areas, classrooms and administrative offices. Other students may use white canes, while some may get around without assistance.
Students with visual disabilities may experience several academic difficulties and are often frustrated by class syllabi, textbooks, chalkboard diagrams, overhead projections, films, maps, videos, printed exams, Scantron answer sheets, laboratory demonstrations, and Internet websites designed to be navigated by clicking on images. Most students with visual disabilities take advantage of assistive technology. Computers can enlarge print; convert printed material to Braille; read the text on a computer screen aloud; or scan books, articles, and other printed materials and then read their text. Some students also use audiotape recorders, portable note-taking devices, or talking calculators. You may also refer to Assistive & Learning Technologies for assistive technology options.

Web Resources

The websites listed below are for informational purposes only. Inclusion on this list does not constitute an endorsement by the CSD.
  • American Council of the Blind The American Council of the Blind is the nation’s leading membership organization of blind and visually impaired people. It was founded in 1961 and incorporated in the District of Columbia.
  • American Foundation for the Blind The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that expands possibilities for people with vision loss.  AFB’s priorities include broadening access to technology; elevating the quality of information and tools for the professionals who serve people with vision loss; and promoting independent and healthy living for people with vision loss by providing them and their families with relevant and timely resources. AFB’s work in these areas is supported by the strong presence the organization maintains in Washington, DC, ensuring the rights and interests of people with vision loss are represented in our nation’s public policies.
  • National Federation of the Blind (NFB) The purpose of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is two-fold-to help blind persons achieve self-confidence and self-respect and to act as a vehicle for collective self-expression by the blind.
  • Learning Ally Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic’s materials are for all people who cannot effectively read standard print because of a visual, perceptual or other physical disability. An education is your right to embrace. Providing equal access to the printed word for our members – that is our profound privilege.