Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Disabilities R Us

The following article appeared in American Thinker on January 22nd

Over the last decade, programs to accommodate students with disabilities have been installed at most institutions of higher education, spurred largely by government mandate.  Like George W. Bush's failed No Child Left Behind Act, with Title I provisions to aid the disadvantaged, the thinking is that no student should be left behind owing to disability.  This measure is a subset of the "social justice" movement that seeks to equalize job and social outcomes irrespective of talent, competence, personal input, and professional responsibility.

Nobody wants to de-privilege the disadvantaged or the suffering.  The disability fetish, however, has adversely affected the performance of the average student, created enormous difficulties for teachers, and complicated administrative procedures to the point of functionary chaos.

I have recently examined an accommodation document issued by a university, which I won't name.  The data are stunning.  Student A requires extended time for assignments and exams.  Student B requires a word-processor with spell- and grammar-checker.  Student C must not write more than one exam per day.  Student D requires one day between exams.  Student E requires "mind maps" (i.e., cheat sheets).  Student F needs N.C. (noise-canceling) headphones to prevent distraction.  And so on all the way down the alphabet.  Indeed, even as I write, a professor at the University of Guelph has been suspended for allegedly chastising an anxiety-disability student.

There are at least six obvious problems with the disability regime of the modern university, listed here in random fashion.

First, there is the problem of invisible disabilities, which far outnumber physical ones.  When is test anxiety, for example, anything but a normal occurrence, and why should it be classed as a pathology requiring accommodation?  We have all been through this and survived.

Though many disabilities may be genuine, the opportunity for suddenly developing a qualifying infirmity is immense and has undoubtedly been taken advantage of by the thousands.  A number of disabilities can easily be faked; in addition to test anxiety, there are agoraphobia, depression, bipolarity, panic attacks, "struggles with mental health" – and those that aren't deliberately manufactured may still be more a matter of interpretation than a measurable impairment.

(Article continues HERE)

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