View Full Version : Math Disability - Need to Vent, Need Advice


ADD_Pyrate_Gurl
08-28-12, 01:41 AM
Last year was my first year (back) in college and before hand I went to a Psychologist/Psychiatrist (which ever is the PhD.) to be re-diagnosed. I was diagnosed with 'Learning Disability Not Otherwise Specified' 'Mathematics Disability' and 'ADHD-Inattentive Type'. In the paperwork the Psychologist gave me with my diagnosis, in the Recommendations it says that for math computations I need the use of a calculator. So there's the sort of back story.

This is my second year at the college I'm currently enrolled at. I am in Math 120 (Intermediate Algebra) and on the first day of class, in the syllabus it said that Calculators were not allowed. I approached the instructor to let him know I had a math disability and ADD and that I need a calculator to do math. He kind of just brushed me off saying that 'there was nothing he would assign that needs a calculator'. I immediately went to my disability resources office, in tears, and asked them if it was possible to have an accommodation requiring me to have a calculator. They said they would work on it. I had my meeting today with the adviser and he wrote in that I needed a calculator. When I got into class, I gave him the accommodations form to read and sign. He had no idea what the form was first of all. I had to tell him it was an accommodations form. I had to explain all the accommodations (ie double time for tests, audio recording the lectures, and use of calculator). As soon as we got to Calculator usage, he crossed it out and said 'no, it is in the syllabus that you cannot use it.' So I told him that if had any questions about it to contact the disabilities office. I kept trying to tell him that I have a Math specific learning disability, that I have ADD, but it's like it went in one ear and out the other. I sat down in my seat and he went to start class, but then he excused himself then when he returned he asked me to stay after to talk with him.

After class, he told me that he talked with the Head of the Math Department and she had told him it was his discretion whether a calculator could be used or not. He said that it was in the syllabus his 'no calculator' rule and that I should have transferred to another class. However, at that point there were no more open classes that would fit my current schedule. I cannot simply drop the class all together because it would mess up my financial aid and my full time status.

Today I went to the disabilities office, but only the secretaries were in the office when my class let out. I told them he had refused the use of the calculator. I cried a bunch. So I guess what I want to know is if I have a leg to stand on in terms of being allowed a calculator. I know that the accommodations have to be 'reasonable' but I feel like since I have a math disability it is not unreasonable for me to use a calculator. My math instructor said that if he allowed me to use a calculator he would have to allow everybody to use a calculator. He thinks that a calculator would give me an advantage over the other students. He doesn't understand that I have a disability, which means I am disadvantaged compared to the other "normal" students, which means a calculator would put me on par with the other students but he doesn't understand. *sigh*

anonymouslyadd
08-28-12, 01:47 AM
I don't think it's too much to ask to have a calculator with you. His "discretion" will get an awakening when you hand him a note saying that it's allowed.

You did the right thing in going to him first, and I think you'll be able to use a calculator.

Edit:

It's algebra though! You're going to have to show the work anyway. In his eyes, he might be thinking that you'll be able to do the work as fast as everyone else. Not true.

CheekyMonkey
08-28-12, 01:51 AM
Ohhhh boy. I would be SO livid.

Yes, you DO absolutely have a right to fight this.

He is obviously clueless about this topic. Ignorance is not acceptable at his position.

He wouldn't have to allow everyone to use a calculator unless they all had disabilities as well.

If you wanted to do so, you could also sue the school for discrimination. They know that, and you should too. If the accommodations office approved your requests, then the professor should follow through. End of story.

ADD_Pyrate_Gurl
08-28-12, 02:38 AM
Oh... one cool thing that happened was that, unbeknownst to me, apparently a girl in my class had overheard the conversation between me & my professor and she went to the disabilities office to complain about the way he treated me and a few other students with disabilities. How freaking cool is it that a random girl would go to complain on behalf of me and some other students, like a Guardian Angel. :)

ADD_Pyrate_Gurl
08-28-12, 03:00 AM
Thanks for all the support. I thought for sure I was right in demanding a calculator. My professor is an Engineer by day, and a professor by night. So since he has a hatred of calculators he must be one of those people who can do math in their head (almost Charlie Eppes/Numb3rs genius style) and he because *he* can do math in his head, then EVERYBODY must be able to do math mentally. :scratch: :eyebrow: :rolleyes: :doh:

Drewbacca
08-28-12, 04:42 PM
I'd go to the head of the department and also the dean of students... if need be, I'd go to the dean of the college. Just keep fighting for what is right. The teacher will hate you in the end, but better to have an angry teacher than overwhelming anxiety due to your disability.

The head of the math department might be willing to help you get in with a different instructor.

FWIW I have had many similar circumstances with asking for testing accommodations. I can present information with A+ knowledge in an oral board but I still fail tests b/c I misunderstand what the questions are asking for. My luck with teachers has been 50/50.

ADD_Pyrate_Gurl
08-28-12, 09:47 PM
yeah, I was going to talk with the head of the math department the other day, but she had already left for the day, so I went to the DRS. I have been using my calculator on the math homework (he doesn't collect homework, he only grades on tests which I *LOVE* because I am fabulous at test taking and horrible at keeping up with homework.) Today I found out that my first chapter test is Tuesday next week (a week from today). I'm hoping to have all this calculator crap figured out by then so I can have the use of my calculator on the test. He's cool about the double time and my smart-pen recording the lectures (which is SOOOO worth the money to buy! I am in freaking love with my livescribe 4gb Echo smart-pen! and I love that live scribe doesn't gouge you with horribly expensive accessories (ie notebooks, ink refills, etc) the note books aren't that much more expensive than your average notebook.... okay so anyhoo... now that I've digressed... :lol: ) what was I saying... :giggle: oh yeah, so he's cool with all my accommodations except that stupid calculator rule!

Being 26 yrs old now, I kinda don't really like to admit that I'm shaky on my times tables. I know them up to a certain point, and then I don't... 7's and 8's are the worst for me. I was sick the day we learned those in elementary school and so I was never really got the lesson on them... I mean the teacher sort of went over them with me when I got back in school, but they never really stuck like they probably would have if I hadn't been sick for that day in school. I used to have trouble with my 9's until my Aunt showed me how to use my fingers for those. :) and once it gets past the 10's forget about it... like today in class we were reviewing our homework from last night which dealt with functions (ie f(x)= x + 2)

the problem was f(x)= x² - x + 2 & g(x) = -2x² - 1 if (f*g)(3)
f(3)=3²-3+2=9-3+2=8
g(3)=-2(3)²-1=-19
that's kinda all well and good, not too hard... a little tricky with the negative signs but then he asked what the answer to 8(-19) was and wanted it right off the bat. He was like 8 times -19 is? Boom! and snapped his fingers to indicate he wanted the answer rapid-fire. I couldn't do that in my head! I was sitting there thinking 'uhhhhh.... idk! give me a calculator and I'll BOOM give you the answer.' (the answer was -152 btw... who in the world, besides math geniuses could know that off the top of their freaking head!?)

ADD_Pyrate_Gurl
08-29-12, 05:04 PM
I do believe I just found a precedent that it is perfectly acceptable for a student with a mathematics disability to require a calculator. I found an article about Accommodations in a Math Class, and they referenced a girl who had to fight the school/teacher for a calculator to be allowed.

In the context of a mathematics course, one could ask whether allowing those diagnosed as having a learning disability to use a calculator when other students are not permitted to do so is fair. Would the use of a calculator alter the skill a test is intended to measure? Are the accommodated students as well qualified as those who have met the requirements without accommodations? And who decides these issues—a learning service office, the relevant department, the course instructor, or the school administration? The Office of Civil Rights conducted an investigation after a student complained of alleged discrimination when prevented from using a calculator during the mathematics placement exam despite being diagnosed with dyscalculia. This resulted in the vice chancellor of the system reminding college presidents that calculators were indeed allowed for all mathematics examinations, placement or otherwise, provided the student was appropriately classified as learning disabled.(Source: www.ams.org/notices/200909/rtx090901072p.pdf (http://www.ams.org/notices/200909/rtx090901072p.pdf) ; Pg. 7 ; 'Are Accommodations Fair' paragraph 2)

I'm going to print this article when I get home and then highlight that portion and bring it into my disabilities office so they can use it to help argue the point that I need a calculator. I have a psychologist saying I need one, I have this article saying that it's a fair accommodation... I am feeling great!:yes:

CheekyMonkey
08-29-12, 07:08 PM
It would hav even funny to ask him if he wouldn't allow a signer for a deaf person or a guide dog for a blind student! I am glad you are fighting this.

silivrentoliel
08-29-12, 07:16 PM
You are doing this perfectly!! I don't think I would have handled it NEAR as well as you are, so congrats!!!

He's going to wish he hadn't fought you on this in the end :D

Good luck!

ADD_Pyrate_Gurl
08-30-12, 11:53 PM
So today was a review day because the test is on Tuesday (the day after labor day). After class my instructor said to me 'relax, don't stress out about it. if you know your times tables, you'll do fine.' and so I told him I wasn't good at my 7's and 8's and I only know my 9's because I know how to do them on my fingers. He told me that a calculator would only slow me down and I wouldn't be able to show my work. So I said that he didn't know how fast I was with a calculator and that I know how to show my work with using a calculator, that I have been doing it for a loooong time. I got frustrated and said that if I don't use a calculator on the test and I fail, I get to say 'I told you so'. He said something about it being on the syllabus and I said 'I have a documented Math Disability and as a student I have rights.' then I left the classroom feeling very pi$$ed off. *sigh* I went to the disability office to check in.

I only have one class tomorrow so after class, I'll call home to see if the disability office called with any information/an appointment with the head of Disability. And if they haven't called, then I'm going straight to the disabilities office and sitting in their office until the head of the disability office has time to see me because I need this figured out tomorrow since Monday is a holiday and so that the school will be closed and then Tuesday is test day... *sigh* I cannot wait until he has to concede to the disabilities office demanding to allow me to use a calculator.

CheekyMonkey
08-31-12, 12:43 AM
So today was a review day because the test is on Tuesday (the day after labor day). After class my instructor said to me 'relax, don't stress out about it. if you know your times tables, you'll do fine.' and so I told him I wasn't good at my 7's and 8's and I only know my 9's because I know how to do them on my fingers. He told me that a calculator would only slow me down and I wouldn't be able to show my work. So I said that he didn't know how fast I was with a calculator and that I know how to show my work with using a calculator, that I have been doing it for a loooong time. I got frustrated and said that if I don't use a calculator on the test and I fail, I get to say 'I told you so'. He said something about it being on the syllabus and I said 'I have a documented Math Disability and as a student I have rights.' then I left the classroom feeling very pi$$ed off. *sigh* I went to the disability office to check in.

I only have one class tomorrow so after class, I'll call home to see if the disability office called with any information/an appointment with the head of Disability. And if they haven't called, then I'm going straight to the disabilities office and sitting in their office until the head of the disability office has time to see me because I need this figured out tomorrow since Monday is a holiday and so that the school will be closed and then Tuesday is test day... *sigh* I cannot wait until he has to concede to the disabilities office demanding to allow me to use a calculator.

What a jerk. He is still fighting this?!

You didn't use my blind person/deaf person line?! ;)

You did a great job. I know how scary it is to have to stick up for yourself, especially to a professor. Don't take his crap!

ADD_Pyrate_Gurl
08-31-12, 03:03 AM
I always think of way better things to say, or remember things that I wanted to say after the moment is past. But there were a few students in his next class starting to file in when I said that I had a mathematics disability and that I had rights as a student... I didn't care who heard me, I say let others know what a jerk he is to disabled students, maybe there will be more to come forward like that one random girl. lol.

ADD_Pyrate_Gurl
08-31-12, 07:13 PM
So today, before class, the head of the disabilities department called and we agreed to meet after I got out of class at 1pm. So I after class I went to his office. We chatted a bit, then got down to business. He told me that he talked to the head of the Math department and he told me that she said there would need to be a documented disability, they would have some stipulations. For example, they didn't want me using a graphing calculator because you can enter algebraic equations (with x's and y's etc) and it will give you the answer so you don't have to do the math. So I said that I would only use a scientific calculator and everything I type into the calculator I write down on the page.

Also I showed the Head of Disabilities the article I found that set a precedence for the accommodation and he was impressed I did that. He said that just my diagnosis and the recommendations of the Psychologist would have been enough, but he was impressed I came in with more ammunition to prove my rights.

Also, I won't be using the calculator in class, because it's not really needed. My professor only lectures during class. We don't ever break up into groups and work problems or something like that. He uses the full time to lecture, so all the example problems in the notes are worked out mathematically on the board, so there's really no need for me to bring it out in class. And also, I will be taking all my math tests in the testing center (rather than in the classroom) and when I take my test, I have to show all my work, which I do anyways.

So.... *pops in my Christina Aguilera Stripped album, turns on Fighter* I won for my right to use a calculator!
:yes::yes::yes::yes::yes::yes::yes::yes::yes::yes: :yes::yes::yes::yes::yes::yes::yes::yes::yes::yes: :yes::yes::yes::yes::yes:
*happy dances*

EDIT: Oh and CheekyMonkey, I used your Deaf/Interpreter;Blind/Braille example as a parallel when talking to the Head of Disabilities.

CheekyMonkey
08-31-12, 08:53 PM
Yay!!!

You rock!

I don't know if I could have been as brave! It is easy to be brave here, but standing up for yourself in real life is challenging.

You've won a lot more that just an argument about a calculator! :)

ADD_Pyrate_Gurl
08-31-12, 11:02 PM
Yeah, I've been feeling super empowered all day. And I also found out that the play I'm working on (helping to design with the help of my fellow classmates), I actually have two jobs. Props (which I knew) and Master Electrician! I want to be a lighting designer, and as a lighting designer I need to know about the ME's job (cuz I'd be working with him/her) and so it's good to understand their job. The reason they gave me two jobs is because my school participates in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and there is no competition for Master Electricians, so they put me with props as well to give me a way to compete. So I'm 25% props and 75% Master Electrician (or should I say Mistress Electrician? ;) :giggle:)

CheekyMonkey
09-01-12, 12:49 AM
Yeah, I've been feeling super empowered all day. And I also found out that the play I'm working on (helping to design with the help of my fellow classmates), I actually have two jobs. Props (which I knew) and Master Electrician! I want to be a lighting designer, and as a lighting designer I need to know about the ME's job (cuz I'd be working with him/her) and so it's good to understand their job. The reason they gave me two jobs is because my school participates in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and there is no competition for Master Electricians, so they put me with props as well to give me a way to compete. So I'm 25% props and 75% Master Electrician (or should I say Mistress Electrician? ;) :giggle:)


I totally have this vision of Mistress Electrician with a cape and thunderbolts radiating from her. :lol:

MX2012
09-01-12, 04:14 AM
Sadly, some idiots do become teachers.
Congrats on your success.
There are many ways to get an education, too bad, he is such a limited thinker.

ADD_Pyrate_Gurl
09-01-12, 05:56 PM
I totally have this vision of Mistress Electrician with a cape and thunderbolts radiating from her. :lol:

Oooh! Does that mean Mistress Electrician is Thor's long lost little sister? score! :lol: Ooooh... that means I could meet Loki and give him snuggles! I swear Loki just needs some lovin's... he's not really evil, he's just sad because he found out he was adopted and because he got tired of living in Thor's shadow... sorry I digressed... sort of...

MX2012 - aye, there are a lot of really great teachers, and a lot of really stupid teachers. I've experienced both. In 5th grade (10yrs old) I've had a teacher tell me I was dumb, stupid and shouldn't even try because I'll never succeed in anything I do because I was ADD, My freshman English teacher would never try to help me if I had questions, she refused to adapt her teaching style to meet the accommodations that were required for me. But I've also had some fabulous teachers. My sophomore English teacher stayed after school with me every day to help me write an essay I was struggling with (we had been introduced to a new writing style called chunk paragraphing and it was confusing me). I got a B and a C in her class. Then I had a math teacher who couldn't speak good English despite living here for 10 years. If I asked for help, she would say in a very thick Vietnamese accent 'you smart girl. you can do it.' but then she'd sit down with the other Vietnamese students and help them while speaking in Vietnamese. I ended up dropping her class and taking it the next year, when I had a fabulous math teacher who had actually quit her job as a family court lawyer because she was sick of seeing kids dropping out of school because they said math was too hard to learn. She understood that everybody had different ways of learning (auditory, visual, tactile, etc) and she would teach to those different ways and then she would help somebody then send that person to help another student with the same problem, then come check to make sure it was taught correctly because she knew that if the student she helped could teach the concept to somebody else with the same problem, then the student she helped would remember the concept easier. Now I get to add this guy to the stupid teacher column. lol

ADD_Pyrate_Gurl
09-04-12, 09:46 PM
I had my first math test today. I was able to use my scientific calculator & I took the test in the testing center with double time. Not sure if I used the full 2 hrs 20 mins. But I was glad to have it, and my trusty handy dandy scientific calculator. :yes: :D

I am so glad that I didn't just give up when my teacher repeatedly tol me 'no'. And I am so greatful for the DRS Office. I think I did pretty good on my test... there was one problem I was totally stumped on how to graph, but I felt pretty confident about all my other answers.