The biggest barriers people with disabilities encounter are other people
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Responding to Disability: A Question of Attitude

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This questionnaire is designed to stimulate thinking and dialogue. It is not intended to test knowledge of disability or attitudes toward people with disabilities. As people increasingly find themselves in situations involving people who are disabled they need to make quick decisions on how to respond. This questionnaire provides an opportunity to think about situations involving people with disabilities, to respond, and then to consider the various responses more carefully.

Q. You are teaching a freshman college class in which there is one student with a disability. This student is working very hard and doing the best she can. However, even her best work is only "D" quality. She is very eager to do well. You are afraid that if you give her a "D" she will get discouraged and give up. It is time for mid-term grades; you should:
a) give her a "D" and ask her if she would like to make an appointment to discuss ways of improving.
b) give her a "C" because she is doing well if you take into account the educational barriers she is facing.
c) talk to her and encourage her to drop the class and enroll in an easier program of study.

a) give her a "D" and ask her if she would like to make an appointment to discuss ways of improving.
It is both dishonest and patronizing to give a person with a disability a better grade than he or she has earned. In their demand for reasonable accommodation, people with disabilities and their advocates are not requesting special favors or relaxed standards. If a student is not competing adequately in a given situation, the situation needs to be explored honestly.
The person may be doing poorly because of the presence of artificial barriers that can be modified or eliminated. For example, this student may be doing poorly because of a lack of access to critical classroom material (i.e., an inaccessible reserve reading room, a lecture course that is not interpreted in sign language, books that have not yet been put on cassette tape or made into braille, testing procedures that have not been modified). Giving a better grade than deserved, or encouraging the student to try an easier course, would remove her from this learning situation before the situation had been explored. In some cases you might never discover that her poor performance may lie not in her disability or in her aptitude, but in artificial but overlooked educational barriers that could be modified. By making modifications that eliminate competitive disadvantages, student performance often can improve without sacrificing standards or granting special or unfair privileges.
On the other hand, this student may be doing poorly because she was not adequately prepared for college level work. Rather than passing the student on, you should give her honest feedback and help prepare her for the reality that sooner or later she may need to do some remedial work. If other professors are passing this student on, giving her better grades than she deserves, she may choose not to believe you. However, at some point she will need to come to grips with the reality of her performance level. The sooner this occurs, the easier it will be to remedy.
Finally, this student may be doing poorly because she is not college material. If she really wants to continue with college, despite feedback that she may not succeed, she should be allowed to try. All of us learn as much from our failures as from our successes. People with disabilities have often been sheltered from failure and have thus missed valuable learning opportunities. Students with disabilities should not be set up for failure, but they should not be treated as exceptionally fragile either. We all have a "right to fail."