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Office of Disability Services

 About Speech / Language Disabilities


What is a Speech/Language Disorder?

Speech disorders and language disorders are very different types of disabilities, but both affect a student's ability to communicate.  Symptoms of speech disorders are difficulty in articulation, voice disorders (such as dysphonia),or fluency disorders (such as stuttering).  Language disorders are characterized as difficulty in understanding or using the symbols and rules people use to communicate with each other. Developmental expressive language disorder and developmental receptive language disorder are examples of language disorders.  A student with a language disorder may not be able to think of the name of an object or call it by the correct name, may have difficulty following directions, may seem inattentive, or may struggle to compose complete, grammatical sentences.

Instructor Tips

  • Computerized speech devices enable students who would otherwise not be able to communicate vocally to express themselves.  An instructor of a student using such a device should assume the student has normal language skills in communicating with the student and display patience in waiting for the student to key in a response.
  • Course requirements need not be altered for a student who stutters, but adjustments in class expectations may be necessary.  Some students have had success in demonstrating understanding of course knowledge via E-mail. An office or phone conversation with the instructor may also be a helpful adjustment without compromising course standards.
  • Use of a Franklin Speller when taking exams may help a student who has a language disorder.

Student Tips

  • Alternate text or E-text will be helpful to some students with language disorders. Disability Services will assist the student in obtaining texts and course materials.  The student should register for classes as early as possible and notify Disability Services of courses for which they will need alternate texts/materials.
  • It may be helpful for students with language disorders to tape lectures for later review or to use the services of a volunteer notetaker.  Recorders with variable playback speed are recommended.
  • The Writing Center is available to assist students and offer suggestions for improvement of written coursework.
  • You should discuss your disability with instructors of courses to aid in proper accommodation to ensure success in the course.

    Any further assistance or accommodations needed should be discussed with the Director of Disability Services.