Students who have learning disabilities can have a difficult time retaining, processing, reading or writing information they are learning. For this reason, doing well in college -- which necessitates both reading comprehension and writing -- can be difficult. Fortunately, some colleges in Georgia have programs specifically tailored to help students with learning disabilities succeed in postsecondary education.
Learning Disabilities and IDEA
Students with learning disabilities are covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; by law, colleges must give students with a documented disability accommodations. The accommodations might include lecture notes on tape or digitally downloadable notes, PowerPoint copies of notes, reduced reading requirements or longer due dates to complete reading assignments, reduced writing assignments, and tests taken orally rather than written. Students are covered by IDEA until their 23rd birthday.
The Georgia Regent Centers
In 1993, the Georgia legislature delegated three universities throughout the state to serve as Regents centers, or resource centers, for colleges and universities: Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, the University of Georgia in Athens, and Georgia State University in Atlanta. The Regents Centers provide assessment and resources for Georgia college students with a suspected or documented learning disability. The legislature designated the center to which students at other colleges and universities would be referred: the University of Georgia's Regent Center serves all students in northeast Georgia, for example. While these centers provide assessments and resource information to learning disabled students, they do not serve as a one-stop place where such students can get help they may need with coursework. Rachel Rose, in an article for New Mobility, suggests that to be truly disability friendly, universities should consider putting all of their disability services in one building.
While all colleges and universities in Georgia must provide services for students with disabilities, Emory University, a private university in Atlanta, does more than is required. The school has an Office of Disability Services to help students with documented disabilities, offering many modifications not only for its students, but for its staff as well. Some of the services the university offers include note taking, sign-language interpretation, alternative testing, advocating with professors who may be resistant to accommodations, and assistance with other modifications as necessary. The students must go through a documentation process, but once it is complete, the Office of Disability Services provides a single resource site for Emory students. With many universities, students with disabilities must travel all over campus to get their needs met.
Georgia College in Milledgeville also has an Office of Disability Services for students with learning disabilities. Like Emory University, Georgia College also has a centralized Office of Disability Services. Georgia College offers class materials on tape and note takers. The college also provides modifications for students with learning disabilities; these include reduced course loads with regard to reading or course assignments, additional time to complete exams or course assignments, and substitutions of assignments, courses, tests or test formats when necessary for the student.
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