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Learning Services accommodates students

Students with disabilities can obtain the help they need

By Steven Neuenschwander & Hannah Brecht
On May 1, 2015

College presents challeneges for any student, especially those who need accommodations. Kirkwood has a department called Learning Services that allows students with disabilities to learn how to get the help they need to succeed. 

“Learning Services was first called Developmental Ed,” said Barbara Mussman, manager of Disability Services at Kirkwood. “It helps students with the basics with their reading, writing and math.” 

When the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1993 was passed, some changes had to be made in Learning Services. Mussman said, “Because of that act, students were allowed to have accommodations in the classroom and the purpose of having accommodations in the classroom is to equal the playing field for students to be successful in college.”

Any student with a disability is allowed to receive accommodations; however, the college system is different than the K-12 system. “It is not the college’s responsibility to seek out an individual, it is the student’s responsibility to identify them to us so that we can begin working with them,” Mussman said. 

Learning Services allows students with disabilities to receive a variety of accommodations. “One of the most common accommodations asked for by a student is asking for extra time on tests,” said Mussman. “That accommodation allows the student to take the exam away from the classroom.” 

Students can also request a private room in the test center so that other people in the center will not distract them. Other accommodations include textbooks on audio and individual or group tutoring. 

Learning Services also offer books on CD for students who have trouble seeing or concentrating on their learning as they read. According to Mussman, studies show that students who read and listen to their textbooks on CD before reading aloud to themselves has helped improve a student’s learning by 40 percent.

To receive accommodations, students need to provide proof of documentation about their disability. Once the student shows the documentation, they must fill out a one page form with Learning Services, show that form to the instructor to sign and then return it to Learning Services. 

 “Anyone who has a disability or struggles in classes, we hope they seek us out,” Mussman said. “We have the Test Center, we have the support programs; any student with a disability is welcome at Learning Services.” 

Student can contact Learning Services by calling 319-398-5574 or stopping by the office at 2063 Cedar Hall.

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