As the school year comes to an end, preparations for a new school year are beginning. As students transition to new classes and possibly even new schools, they may find that there are people that don’t know what a print disability is, and these people may struggle to create accessible materials or order special items. It’s important to start the school year off right, so here I have compiled a list of five myths about print disabilities, and how to ensure students receive accessible materials
Myth 1- There’s no need for large print in math/science
While there are some print disabilities like dyslexia that only affect letters, most print disabilities affect letters and numbers in all subjects, as the font is too small to read. There may be added difficulty with graphs, exponents, subscripts, maps, and even music. Always have large print materials available for all subjects- this extends to textbooks as well.
Myth 2- Writing in all caps is the same as large print
DOES THIS LOOK ANY LARGER TO YOU? Nope, didn’t think so. Writing in all caps in a small font size is not the same as having large text. There’s no need to write in all caps in large text either. Unless the rest of the class is getting everything in all caps, there is no reason for the student with a print disability to get everything written that way.
Myth 3- If you sit there long enough, inaccessible materials will become accessible
One day, I received a practice test that was in small print. I walked up to the teacher and asked for large print, and they told me to sit there and try harder to see it. After staring at it for an hour, the font didn’t magically enlarge or become clear so I could see it. It’s also a bad idea to argue that the student doesn’t need large print, especially if they have an IEP.
Myth 4- Students should feel bad requesting large print
At a band audition, I had trouble seeing the music that was provided for me. The teacher on duty (not my teacher) informed me that I could throw everyone behind for 45 minutes so they could enlarge my music, or I could suck it up and play the music I couldn’t see. This teacher knew exactly how to make me feel guilty for something I couldn’t control, so I just tried to guess what the music was- and looking at my extremely low score, I’m pretty sure my guess was very off. Looking back, I should have made them enlarge it, as I deserved the same opportunities as the other people auditioning. I don’t get any extra advantage with my large print.
Myth 5- If a student can use a cell phone, they don’t need large print
I actually have an entire post dedicated to this topic called “My Phone Isn’t Paper.” Paper displays and digital displays are two different things, and students have found ways to be able to use technology using the accessibility settings. After all, you can easily zoom in on a digital screen…the same can’t be said for a paper screen.
You have the right to see materials just like every other student, and your school is required to provide accessible materials for you if you have an IEP or 504. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.