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Glossary

Please note: This glossary is not intended to be a completely comprehensive index of all disabilities or disability-related terminology.

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Academic Freedom
A concept endorsed by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) that defines the freedoms and responsibilities of faculty. The elements of academic freedom that pertain to teaching include the freedom of faculty to teach relevant course material in their own manner without censorship and the responsibility of faculty to meet their teaching obligations as defined by the institution.

Access to Class Notes
Making class notes available either electronically, via a note taker, or via the instructor's discretion so that students can access course content. Such access is critical for persons who are unable to write due to their disability (such as students with a learning disability in written expression, students who are blind, or students with upper body limitations) and for persons with chronic disabilities that result in tardiness or classroom absences (such as students with psychiatric, medical, or mobility impairments).

Accommodation Letter/Form
A letter/form prepared by the Disability Support Services (DSS) office that explains the approved accommodations to faculty and identifies the role of the faculty member in the provision of these accommodations.

Accommodations
Assistive devices or adaptations that serve to ease the impact of the disability on a particular activity. A change in how an academic requirement (e.g.; assignment, assessment, etc.) is presented or how the student demonstrates competency, which may include changes in the presentation format, response format, setting, timing, or scheduling. This term generally refers to changes that do not significantly alter the requirement. It results from a student need; it is not intended to give the student an unfair advantage.

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
Syndrome caused by HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) characterized by a weakening of the immune system.

Advisory Committee
In research, a group of individuals that help to plan or guide an assessment process; this committee should include key stakeholders. See definition of stakeholders. Advisory committee is often referred to as a “steering committee”.

Alternate Format Materials
The production of print materials in a format that enables a person with a disability to read the materials using adaptive skills or technologies. Alternate format materials may include large print, audio tapes, electronic text, and Braille.

Alternate Means
Demonstrating mastery of course material in a substitute manner.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Civil rights legislation signed by President George Bush on July 26, 1990. Prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the areas of employment, state and local government, public accommodations and services, transportation, and telecommunications.

Anorexia Nervosa
Psychiatric disorder grouped under eating disorders. Characterized by deliberate weight loss, resistance to eating, and excessive exercising, which leads to a failure to maintain a minimally normal body weight in relation to age and height levels.

Antisocial Personality Disorder
Grouped under personality disorder. Characterized as disregarding lawful behaviors or the rights of others; showing aggressive behavior.

Anxiety Disorder
Psychiatric disorder characterized by excessive feelings of panic or fear, obsessive thoughts, depression and uncomfortable physical symptoms, such as nausea and sweating. Often includes panic attacks, a period of a sudden sense of apprehension, fearfulness, or terror of imminent "doom." Can cause significant impairment in occupational performance or social settings. Umbrella term including:

  • Social phobia
  • Panic Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Architectural Accessibility
The application of design principles and construction that allows persons with disabilities to use facilities such as buildings, sidewalks, entryways, elevators, restrooms, and water fountains with maximum independence and in accordance with current building codes.

Arthritis
Physical disability characterized by chronic joint impairments and pain. One of the most common diseases in the nation.

Asperger Syndrome
Grouped under Autism Spectrum Disorders. Developmental disability that resembles autism but without language or cognitive impairments. Most often characterized by impairment in social interaction, communication and motor skills. Considered mild disorder on the spectrum.

Assessment
In research, to systematically address a question or test a hypothesis using a scientific method-based approach to problem solving, program evaluation, or to simply learn more about a topic. While it can refer to the entire process of “climate assessment” from start to finish in a global sense, it can also specifically refer to the second stage of the climate assessment process in which data collection methods are chosen and implemented based on the driving research question or hypothesis.

Assistive/Adaptive Technology
Equipment or software items designed or used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities for areas of disability or impairment. It allows persons with disabilities the same access to information and production as their peers.

Asthma
Respiratory disease characterized by reduced lung function or restricted airways and breathing capabilities. Attacks can be triggered by weather and environmental allergen changes.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
A neurobiological disorder that interferes with a person's ability to sustain attention or focus on a task and to control impulsive behavior. The most common behaviors fall into three categories: inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity. People who are inattentive have a hard time keeping their mind on any one thing and may get bored with a task after only a few minutes. People who are hyperactive always seem to be in motion; they cannot sit still and may feel constantly restless. People who are overly impulsive seem unable to curb their immediate reactions or think before they act.

Attitudes
A mental position with regard to a fact or state or a feeling or emotion toward a fact or state.

Auditory Aids
Equipment or services designed to compensate for functional limitations related to disability and that allow equal access to course content. Examples include but are not limited to: services such as interpreters or note takers, adaptive technologies such as voice input or voice output computer software, alternative media such as Braille texts or video captioning, adapted work stations such as a lower lab table for wheelchairs with modified equipment for participation in lab experiments, etc.

Auditory Perceptual Deficit
A person with auditory perceptual deficit has difficulty receiving accurate information from the sense of hearing (there is no problem with the individual’s hearing, just in how the brain interprets what is heard) and might have problems understanding and remembering oral instructions, differentiating between similar sounds, or hearing one sound over a background noise.

Autism Spectrum Disorders
Also called Pervasive Developmental Disorders. Psychological/mental disorder characterized by varying impairment in expressing language, feeling, or social interaction, and repetitive or stereotyped actions. Umbrella term including Autism and Asperger Syndrome.

Autistic Disorder
Grouped under Autism Spectrum Disorders. Developmental disability affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interactions, and demonstrating a limited range of activities and interests. May be characterized by repetitive actions, resistance to environmental change or change in daily activities, and uncomfortable/unusual reactions to sensory experiences. Considered the most severe disorder on the spectrum.

Auxiliary Aids
Equipment or services designed to compensate for functional limitations related to a disability and that allow equal access to course content. Examples include but are not limited to: services such as interpreters or note takers, adaptive technologies such as voice input or voice output computer software, alternative media such as Braille texts or video captioning, adapted work stations such as a lower lab table for wheelchairs with modified equipment for participation in lab experiments, etc.

Avoidant Personality Disorder
Grouped under personality disorder. Characterized as lacking self-confidence, fearing social interaction, and being sensitive to negative criticism.