[NOBE-L] seeking advice around student teaching issues

Marisa Lucca lucca.marisa at gmail.com
Fri Sep 3 21:23:33 UTC 2021

Hello Precious,

My name is Marisa Lucca, and I am a doctoral candidate at the University of
Central Florida in the Department of Sociology. I am deafblind and have
used disability accommodations throughout my academic career. I want you to
know that you are not alone in your experience of forced and delayed
accommodations nor the frustration, uncertainty, and anxiety that
accompanies your experiences.

As a business degree undergraduate student who had to complete practicum
projects, I was told, in no uncertain terms, that the university would
accommodate me via a tactile sign language interpreter and real-time
virtual captioning services. I told the disability services staff that I am
not tactile sign language proficient and the additional accommodations
would not work for me.

Still, disability services staff ignored my accommodation requests of a
Disability Support Specialist and Advocate, a professional who, among many
things, specializes in environmental and communication access for persons
with dual vision and hearing loss. I was frustrated because I knew what
accommodations I needed to meet my student obligations successfully, yet
disability administrators felt they knew my needs better than I did.

I felt uncertain because I did not know what rights or what grounds I had
to insist that the accommodations the disability staff forced upon me were
ineffective and unnecessary. I was anxious because I feared the
consequences of refusing the accommodations given to me—fears of
retaliation, failure, loss of other needed accommodations, and delayed
progress toward degree completion. Delays in accommodation provisions
further compounded the emotional turmoil.

I am not familiar with teaching licensure requirements in any state, let
alone the activities involved in your training. However, no matter our
circumstances, no college or university can dictate when we need
accommodations. Suppose you feel you do not require an assistant as an
accommodation to complete the practicum. In that case, the college does not
have grounds to impose an assistant upon you. Additionally, accommodations
must be provided in sufficient time to facilitate contemporaneous access.
In other words, accommodation provisions should give you access at the same
time, not after, other students have access. You cannot be penalized for
underperformance or no performance in your teacher-student duties resulting
from delayed accommodations.

Also, if an assistant is what you need, there is nothing wrong with using
an assistant as an accommodation for visual access. Our independence is not
what we do by ourselves without assistance; independence is choosing
whether and how we use resources and relationships to achieve our goals.
Some people detest the use of assistants; other people feel they do not
need one. Still, others feel that assistants are necessary to achieve
self-defined performance standards and keep pace with sighted colleagues.
Whatever the case, the key is to claim accommodations that work for you and
your circumstance.

I know from experience that dealing with the problem in real-time under
time constraints is overwhelming, and that might be an understatement.
Also, I have learned from experience that sharing my frustrations and
problem-solving with an access professional, colleagues with disabilities,
and students who confronted similar situations was quite helpful.

My colleagues and I are happy to serve as a sounding board and exchange
ideas and lessons learned from our experience resisting disabling practices
in higher education and teaching contexts. Remember, you are not alone in
your experience, and we are here to offer support and solidarity when you
need it. Please feel free to reach out (lucca.marisa at gmail.com).

In solidarity,


On Thu, Sep 2, 2021 at 2:42 PM Precious Perez via NOBE-L <nobe-l at nfbnet.org>

> Hello,
> I hope this message finds you well. I am reaching out to seek  advice
> around student teaching issues that I am having currently. I am in my final
> semester at Berkeley College of music, and my final requirement is my
> student teaching practicum. I started meeting with everyone involved on the
> team in May to finalize my accommodations, and I was told that I would need
> an assistant in order to be able to complete some of the visual
> requirements for assessment as far as practicum goes in order to get my
> licensure via the state department and their guidelines. when I asked why I
> needed another person with me in the classroom, they said that there were
> some things that needed to be assessed visually, and that’s why I would
> need it. Since then, there have been threads of emails back-and-forth, and
> I’ve helped vet  some candidates. At the end of July, we vetted a candidate
> that was promising, and I assumed all was well. At the beginning of August,
> this month, my second placement could no longer support me, so they needed
> to find another. When I asked about how to proceed, they said that they
> were doing their best to ensure that I was covered and that I would have
> more information soon. It is now almost the end of the first week for the
> school district that my elementary placement is in, and the week before the
> Berklee semester starts. I still have no information after sending a
> follow-up email requesting that I get information about my placements, my
> schedule, and the assistant. I found out today that the assistant I had
> helped  vet last month took another job, and the accessibility department
> thought that this had been communicated in earlier threads of emails. I was
> asked to conduct another interview tomorrow afternoon, still with no
> knowledge of a schedule or any information despite the assurance that this
> is their priority and they are doing everything they can. At this point, I
> feel that if they were doing everything they could, this wouldn’t be
> happening right now. I’m worried that the longer I wait And allow myself to
> keep getting the runaround when  I ask for information, the longer it’s
> going to take for them to solidify somebody, thus, delaying my timeline for
> everything. I don’t think that I need an assistant to be able to complete
> all of this, and I don’t think it should be required, but I get the sense
> that they will tell me that I cannot start anything without my assistant if
> I try to rescind the accommodation. I can’t do anything on my own without
> their go ahead Given the chain of command and the process for completing
> requirements, so I’m stuck. I wanted to reach out to this list in the hopes
> that other blind educators might have some wisdom to offer. Any thoughts
> would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for reading, and I hope to
> hear back soon.
> All best,
> Precious
> Sent from my iPhone
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Marisa Lucca, MPA
C: 386.597.3521 (Voice/Text)

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