Disability Access and Education Announcement

Did you know . . .

Not only is October breast cancer awareness month, but it’s also an awareness month for ADHD, disability employment, German-American heritage (oooh, Oktoberfest), toilet tank repair (really?), squirrels, dental hygiene, dessert (yum), and dyslexia, among many more things.  Let’s ignore the squirrels and desserts and focus on learning. I’ve already written on ADHD this semester.  Please see the SquawkBox announcement about disability employment awareness opportunity at Pieology.  Dyslexia can mean many things, but it is the term we commonly recognize as referring to the learning disability which affects the way some people read.  The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) defines dyslexia as “a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities . . . [which] may include problems in reading comprehension.” (https://dyslexiaida.org/definition-of-dyslexia/). The IDA says that “as many as 15–20% of the population as a whole—have some of the symptoms of dyslexia, including slow or inaccurate reading, poor spelling, poor writing, or mixing up similar words.”  College students who have been diagnosed with a reading disability say that they can read the words but it may take many re-readings and a lot more time to process the meaning of all the words together. They also report difficulty in proofreading their own writing.  Once an error is pointed out, they usually know how to fix it; they just can’t see it in the first place. The challenges students face in elementary school in learning to read with this disability can leave them feeling like they are less intelligent than their peers, as if they are damaged or deficient in some way.   Because of these feelings, college students are often afraid or embarrassed to request accommodations for a reading disability.  Many of them also hope they will no longer need the assistance they used in elementary through high school once they get to college.  While people rarely outgrow neurobiological conditions, they can learn to use compensatory tools and be highly successful in college and careers.  As with all other types of neurodivergence, they can be original thinkers and problem-solvers.

 

In order to provide tools to the many people with identified or undiagnosed reading challenges and to those who simply prefer to read a different way, Fresno Pacific University has a site license for Read & Write which can be downloaded from the University portal found at my.fpu.edu.  (Watch SquawkBox for an upcoming announcement of an upgrade to the software.)  Anyone who attends or works at FPU has access to this software.  For more information and tutorials on using this multi-functional literacy support tool, go to YouTube Read and Write Introduction to find the entire playlist of videos.  The software itself has a video tour for almost every function found in the pull-down menu next to the function buttons.  Students who register for accommodations may be eligible for many other tools to help them compensate and be just as successful as their peers.

 

You can find many success stories of people with dyslexia.  Here is one I found that illuminates not only the person’s success but how she deals with her learning difference: i-havent-overcome-dyslexia-im-harnessing-it.  One resource that she cites is Bookshare which the office of Disability Access and Education uses to supply electronic text for students with any kind of print disability.  Individuals may also use Bookshare on their own.

 

The stigma and our misunderstandings about dyslexia and other disabilities are just as debilitating as the disability itself.  In order to combat this type of stigma, we need to shift our thinking from seeing disabilities as something “wrong” to seeing differences and diversity to be appreciated, just as we appreciate our skin and hair color, body type, cultural background, and gender.  1 Corinthians 12: 12 – 31 reminds us that the full body of Christ has many parts with different functions.  Verse 22 says “those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.”  A college student or a working professional with a reading disability may feel weak because of this difference, but in God’s “upside-down kingdom,” weakness can be strength.