Student with severe speech impediment

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mj_romo:
Has anyone ever had a student with such a severe speech impediment that it was very difficult to understand hu?

I've never had one before this semester.  I don't want to be crass or cruel, but I've had students with hearing impairments who were easier to understand than this particular student. 

There is something wrong with this student's tongue/palate that makes hu very difficult to understand.  It often takes 3-4 times of hu repeating things before I can figure out exactly what hu means.  The problem, of course, is that it's disruptive in class when I struggle to figure out what hu means; I feel like a wretched teacher because I can't figure out what hu means, and students are beginning to react differently towards hu because of the issue.

I'm just not sure how to handle this situation (if there's anything to handle), and I'd like some feedback.

adhoc:
Quote from: mj_romo on February 26, 2007, 10:06:40 PM

I don't want to be crass or cruel ...
Then don't be.  Part of your job is to accommodate this student.  Do so.

Quote from: mj_romo on February 26, 2007, 10:06:40 PM

... it's disruptive in class when I struggle to figure out what hu means ...
Then don't make it so obvious that you are struggling.  Listen to the student.  Understand what he's asking.  Then answer the question -- the same as you would do with anyone else in the class.

Quote from: mj_romo on February 26, 2007, 10:06:40 PM

... it was very difficult to understand hu ...
OK, you are asking an ostensibly serious question using character sequences like "hu" as if it were a word, and doing this in the process of explaining how someone else is difficult to understand?!

yellowtractor:
Ignore Adhoc.  You're asking a serious question, and it deserves a serious answer.  If I were you, I would

1) meet with the student privately.  Apologize (if necessary) for any mistakes you feel you might have made in class and explain yout difficulty.  If this student is as difficult to understand as you say, hu will have had experiences like this before.  Hu may well have more wisdom on how to work together than you do.

2)  While doing 1)--or perhaps even before--consult with whoever your school's disability liaison is.  (At my present school, we have an assistant dean in charge of disability issues.)  Find out more about this student's record, if that information is available--or at least about the record of accommodations on hu's behalf.  Certainly find out more about ways in which your school might assist you, or the student, to accommodate the student better.

3) Take your cues from both the student and whatever administrator you speak with.  If your class is discussion-oriented, you might want to offer the student the opportunity of fulfilling the "class participation" portion of your grading rubric through writing assignments--or at least offering this as an option.  (On the other hand, your student, however frustrated, may well be committed to participating in the discussions, in which case you'll simply have to do the best you can.)

I've never had a student with this sort of disability (though once upon a time I did have one in a sample class I taught during a campus interview).  Hopefully your school will offer you some serious support.  Ask now, before things get worse, or you or the student get more frustrated.

uboat_driver:
I second Yellow Tractor ... great advice.
Talking to the student (before/after the disability liaison) is a great idea.  I have taught students with various disabilities and consistently find that they are happy to have a faculty member who is willing to reach out and work with them. 

adhoc:
Quote from: yellowtractor on February 26, 2007, 11:48:22 PM

Ignore Adhoc.  You're asking a serious question, and it deserves a serious answer. 

What part of my response do you think was not serious?

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