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Targeted Groups:

  • Learning Disabilities:

Abdulhameed & Sabir (2013) defined learning disablilities as ‘’A heterogeneous group of disorders which is manifested in acute problems in acquisition and the use of listening, speech, reading, writing, language skills, inference, and computational abilities. These disorders are due to a defect in the central nervous system. Although learning disabilities may be accompanied by other disabilities such as sensory disabilities, mental retardation, severe emotional disorders, certain cultural conditions or inappropriate learning conditions, they are not result of these circumstances.’’

Learning disabilities are pided into two kinds:

  1. Developmental learning disabilities:

Abo An-Noor and Abdelfattah Muhammed (2014) define them as ‘’ disabilities that are related to brain functions, mental and cognitive processes. They are primarily due to functional disorders in the central nervous system; they include primary developmental learning disabilities, which are  related to attention, cognition and memory; and secondary developmental learning disabilities, which are related to thinking, speech and understanding.

  1. Academic learning disabilities:

Abdulhameed & Sabir (ibid) define them as ‘’ academic learning disabilities are mainly  related to the developmental learning disabilities; they result from deficiencies in the processes of thinking, attention and memory; consequently, they  are related to the basic subjects of study such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, difficulty in performing arithmetic operations in addition to spelling difficulties.

Learning Disabilities Signs:

  • Concentration difficulty on study tasks or tasks that require sustaining attention.

  • Difficulty in identifying letters, words or shapes.

  • Lack of spatial awareness.

  • Difficulty in identifying similar words or sounds.

  • Disorder or memory failure to recognize language or numbers.

  • Inability to focus on reading and understanding what is read.

  • Hesitation, frequent pauses at some words or omission of them.

  • For writing, there is a variation in the size of letters or words.

  • For writing, words move up or down within the writing lines.

  • Difficulty in writing down ideas.

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD):

A special case in the brain which makes it difficult for the inpidual to control their behaviour in school and social attitudes. What distinguishes people with this disorder is that they have a continuous pattern of inattention or hyperactivity; and impulsivity that hinders performance or development.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Signs:

  • Failure to pay attention to details.

  • Difficulty in organizing tasks or activities.

  • Avoiding tasks which require sustained effort.

  • Getting distracted by external stimuli easily.

  • Talking continuously.

  • Frequent jogging and climbing.

  • Difficulty in being involved in interesting activities quietly.

  • Motor Impairment:

Abaid Badrah (2011) refer to motor impairment as the cases of inpiduals who suffer from a defect in their mobility or motor activity, where the disorder affects the signs of mental, social and emotional development and requires the need for special education.

Motor Impairment Signs: Cerebral Palsy:

A dysfunction of a body’s shape, form or both as a result of one or more injuries to the central nervous system (brain). According to the affected parts, it is pided into:

* paraplegia: where the lower half of the body, including both legs, is affected.

*Hemiplegia: where one side of the body, including upper and lower limbs, is affected.

* Triplegia: where three limbs are affected, usually both legs and a hand.

* monoplegia: where one limb is affected; it is rare.

* quadriplegia: the four limbs of the body are affected.

Hemiplegia is the most common cause of motor disability in the world, leading to the paralysis of one side of the human body.


Acute and painful disease in joints and surrounding tissues.


Occurs late in life.

Spinal Disorders:

A defect that affects the normal growth of the spine from the head area to the end of the spine.


Partial or complete breaks in the continuity of the bone.

  • Hearing Impairment:

Alqaryoti, Alsaratawi and Alsawi (2012) define hearing impairment as ‘’ the problems that either prevent the inpidual hearing system from functioning or reduce his/her ability to hear different voices. Hearing impairment’s severity ranges from mild to moderate degrees, resulting in hearing loss to very high degrees, resulting in deafness. A deaf person is an inpidual with an auditory deficit (to the point of hearing loss 70 dB or more) that prevents him/her from relying on hearing to understand speech, whether or not he/she uses headphones; however, a person with hearing loss suffers from  hearing loss of 35 - 69 dB, which makes it difficult for him/her to understand speech depending on hearing only, and with or without headphones.

Hearing Impairment Signs:

  • Difficulty in understanding instructions and requesting repetition.

  • Speech errors.

  • Turning the head to a specific direction when listening to a talk.

  • The sound tone is not consistent.

  • Tending to talk loudly.

  • Preferring to use signs while talking.

  • a discharge of pus  from the ear or redness of ear pinna.

  • Tinnitus.

  • Speech Disorders:

Albablawi (2013) defines speech disorders as a deficiency in the pronunciation of some language sounds; such a malfunction appears in one or more of the following disorders: (replacing): pronouncing a sound instead of another, (deleting): pronouncing a word with missing a sound or more, (distorting): pronouncing a sound in a way similar to the original sound but not identical and (adding): adding an extra sound to a word.

Speech Disorders Types and Signs:

Metwally (2015) define each type as the following:


Replacing is where a sound is replaced by another in pronunciation, e.g. /r/ is replaced by /l/  in ‘shajalah’ instead of ‘shajarah,’ which means “tree.” It occurs with other sounds, e.g. /j/   is replaced by /d/ in ‘durdel’ instead of ‘jurdel’  and /k/   is replaced by /t/  in ‘turrasah’ intead of ‘kurrasah.’


Deleting a sound or more from a word; this deletion usually occurs in the last sound, leading to be misunderstood unless it is used in a grammatical sentence. Deleting may include not only a sound but a syllable of a word, e.g. pronouncing ‘mak’ instead of ‘samakah.’


Pronouncing a sound in a way similar to the original, but not identical, i.e. all sounds are pronounced but not from the correct place of articulation and the airstream is not expelled correctly to produce that sound.

Adding: An extra sound is added, making his speech unclear and not understood, e.g. ‘sasmakah,’ ‘mamarwahah’, etc; or a syllable or more is repeated,e.g. ‘wawa’ and ‘dada.’

  • Visual impairment:


Alqaryoty, Alsaratawy and Alsawy (2012) state that "a blind person is one who lost his/her visual ability; therefore, he/she must use tactility to learn reading and writing through Braille system. People with visual impairments, who are not considered blind, are identified as visually impaired: their visual acuity ranges between 6/20 and 6/60 meter.”


Visual Impairment Signs:

  • Persistent eye redness.

  • frequent watering of the eye  and white eye discharge.

  • The rapid movement of the eyeball and the difficulty in concentration while looking at something.

  • Staring while looking at something.

  • Avoiding light or asking for much light.

  • Getting fatigued or tire quickly while reading, writing or performing tasks that require visual focus.

  • Covering one eye by hand while reading or checking something.

  • Difficulty in distinguishing different colours.

  • Chronic Diseases: (e.g. multiple sclerosis and epilepsy)  

Chronic Diseases:

Alawawdah (2012) defines these diseases as ‘ diseases which last for long; they do not end normally; patients with these diseases rarely get healed; they appear as a person ages, e.g. cancer, heart diseases, kidneys diseases, diabetes and arthritis.’


Chronic Diseases Types:

  1. Asthma:

Alawawdah (ibid) defines it as ‘a chronic chest disease which affects the lungs; results in narrowing the airway, which carries the air from and to the lungs, and shortness of breath.

Its Signs:



Shorthness of breath.

Chest tightness.

Mucus hypersecretion .

Nostrils get widen.

  1. Diabetes:

World Health Organization (1999) states that diabetes is a chronic disease where the pancreas is unable to produce a sufficient amount of insulin; or where the body cannot use the produced insulin effectively.

Insulin is a hormone that regulates the level of sugar in the blood. High blood sugar is considered a common effect of lack of control over diabetes. Over time, it leads to severe damage to many organs of the body, especially nerves and blood vessels.

Diabetes Signs:

Alawawdah (2012) points out the signs of diabetes as the following:

-Frequent urination

- Excessive thirst .

-Dry mouth.

-Weight loss.

-Excessive hunger.

  1. Heart Diseases:

Muhammed (2012) mentions the common chronic heart diseases as the following:

  1. Heart attack:

It occurs when one of the arteries that feeds the heart is blocked. Angina pectoris or diphtheria is a chest pain caused by blood pressure in the arteries after the accumulation of fat.

  1. Heart failure:

It is a case in which the heart cannot continue to function properly according to the need of the body of oxygen to keep body’s organs healthy and to function optimally.

  1. Heart palpitations:

An increasing in the speed of the heartbeats resulting in widening of peripheral arteries, high temperature and low blood pressure.

Its Signs:

- Throbbing.

-Shortness of breath.



-Arrhythmias (heart rhythm disorders.)

  • Services Offered for the Universal Access Canter’s Beneficiaries:

  • Evaluating the students academic needs.

  • Educational sessions program.

  • Academic adaptation (Support document.)

Support Services:

According to the Regulations of the Special Education Institutes of the Ministry of Education in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (1422,) support services are programs which are not educational, but necessary for the educational growth of students with special educational needs, such as: physical and functional therapy, correction of speech defects and Psychological Counseling Services.

Academic Accommodations for Students with Special Needs:

Academic accommodations provide opportunities for students with special needs as well as access to university services, programs and facilities as they are participating members in the university community which is characterized by fair environment. Services and facilities are provided in accordance with their special needs without any violation of the course objectives.

First: Environmental Adaptations :

  • Proper lighting.

  • Classrooms are organized in a way that does not hinder movement.

  • Appropriate seats for students in the classroom, (e.g. at the front of the classroom to see the board clearly, students with hearing impairment or attention deficit disorder should be with the least number of group members, near the corridor for wheelchair’s users.)

  • Alternative places such as providing a classroom free of distracting elements or a classroom for testing student inpdually.

Second: Method of Presenting Information:

  • Albattal (2018) points out various methods of presenting information;  one of which involves presenting pictures and videos to help clarify information during the lecture for students with learning disabilities or hearing impairment; the second is the use of calculators and assistive technology for students with special needs; the third is providing an access to PowerPoint presentations or other material: students with learning disabilities or attention or memory deficit may not be able to access all the necessary information during the lecture or review the required material; they may ask for ready material to review it; therefore, it is important to distribute printed copies to students, put them in the library or send them by e-mail to the students with special needs.

  • Albattal (ibid) states also recoding lectures; students with learning disabilities may need recoding lectures and discussions in classrooms in order to  get all the given information; they have the right to bring their own recording devices but they may coordinate with the instructor about the best possible place for the recording device.  Disability services office provides instructions and answers to questions about recording facilities.

  • Highlighting key concepts and topics during the lecture and increasing the time allocated for presenting some information.

  • Explaining the tasks required to be performed by  the student step by step to ensure that she understands them and performs them as requested.

  • Providing a writer for the students who have problems in writing to write down important notes in the lecture.

  • Provide a sign language interpreter for students with hearing impairment.

Third: Organizational Adaptations:

  • Using a list of tasks so that the student knows the tasks that she has done and that need to be done, e.g. homework. The students compiles this list with the help of a special education specialist.

  • Using a timer to enable students to manage time ; some students with learning disabilities may experience problems managing time.

  • Teaching students who face some problems in organizing information strategies for organizing information such as mind maps and sketchnotes.

Fourth: Assessment Adaptations:

  • Asseement of students with special needs is done by the means that suits their abilities:

If reading questions is difficult for a student, it must be read for her, making sure that she understands them before answering.

If writing is difficult for the student, she is assessed verbally, using a recorder, providing a writer for her or using a word processor. For birn blind students, they are evaluated using braille.

  • Making some amendments to the exam according to the student’s needs; students who are visually impaired or who have visual problems may need larger font size or colored paper; students who have attention deficit may need less number of questions in each page and clear and concise types of questions.

  • Giving the student rest periods during the evaluation according to her ability to focus and continue to perform the task.

  • piding the exam ; it may bein two different days or in one day but at different times.

  • Increasing the exam time by half or twice the basic time according to the needs of the student.

Fifth: Resources to Help Access the Curriculum:

  • Using assistive technologies such as: braille Note Touch, text enlarger, hearing impaired earphones and text-to-speech software.

  • Providing additional materials to review key concepts in the courses with pictures or videos to help understand the texts.


  • Consulting services for faculty members

  • Training courses for students with special needs.

  • Providing supporting devices and technologies.


  • Assistive Technologies: an integrated system of tools, strategies and services compatible with the needs and capabilities of people with special needs according to the surrounding environment and daily tasks.

  • Assistive Technologies Devices: are tools, devices and products that are ready, modified or designed according to the needs of the user; the aim of using them is to improve or maintain the functional or performance capabilities for people with special needs.


Groups benefiting from these technologies:

  • Blind people or those who are visually impaired.

  • Institutions, universities and organizations they belong to.

  • Institutions which employ people with visual impairment.

Examples of these devices and technologies:


  • Humanware Pro DJ Connect 12: a digital magnifier for people with low vision, with a 12-inch tablet and 40x magnification; it saves images and reads text. It has a camera that zoom a distance of 10 meters; there are 16 colors to change the background.


  • Humanware Explore5: a digital magnifier for people with low vision, with 5 inch HD screen and 22x magnification; it saves image; there are 16 colors to change the background and the text.

  • Infovox: is a flash memory that has an NVDA software in addition to speech machines for blind people or those wo have low vision; it can be run as a portable application from any device when it is connected; it allows installing sounds locally in the device.

New Features for users:

  • Infovox 4 provides a USB port and three local configurations. Therefore, it provides different features:

  • Using the portable device via the USB key allows immediate access into any computer without need for local download and administrative rights.

  • Local download allows using the software without having to connect the USB key.

  • The ability to transfer local download from and to the USB key at any time.

  • Infovox 4 comes with many useful applications that can be launched through Infovox4 Launch Pad.


NVDA 1 screen reader helps users access the computer when no screen reader is installed. The speech creator feature allows to easily create MP3 files for personal use through any written file. The pronunciation editor allows to manage dictionaries and exceptions in an easy way and improve the way of pronouncing names and exceptions. It is worth mentioning that the "Upload Manager" application allows adding or deleting voices at the local level. Moreover, sound management allows for new voices to be created by specific criteria. The setup assistant guides you, step by step, when you download the program and install Infovox 4 on your computer.

  • BrailleNote Touch is a device for blind people; it can type braille on a touchscreen - almost  as fast as typing with 10 fingers on a keyboard.The smart keyboard cover provides a perfect introduction; quick access to mainstream applications and cloud storage, including Google Docs, Dropbox and YouTube. Teachers can receive instant visual feedback.


  •   Braille Wave

  • Providing an effective technical tool that enables those who are blind and visually impaired to use the computer by connecting it to a terminal ‘Braille Wave’, which works as a Braille display for everything on the screen and it also has a special keyboard that can be used for the input process by connecting directly to a laptop or a computer. One of the most important features of this device is that it can be used as a separate notebook with rechargeable batteries or as a Braille display connected to a computer by which blind people can read.

BrailleNote MPower

  • It is the newest notebook device with a Braille display from Humanware. It is considered a laptop or an improved notebook device for blind people and people with visual impairment. Its noteworthy features allow  these users to perform many tasks which they used to perform with the assistance of people with no visual impairment; thus, such a device increases their independence and effectiveness; some of these important tasks are writing, saving and retrieving files of studying, lectures or work documents in addition to sending and receiving e-mail, surfing the Internet and using numerical calculator.






To get services from the Universal Access Center, the applicant must register by providing the Center with the following:

  • Comprehensive diagnostic documents (medical or psychological report) indicating the disability or special need.

  • A copy of the academic record.

  • A copy of the secondary school certificate.

  • A copy of the achievement and aptitude tests.

  • A copy of university card.

  • Pass an initial interview.

Documents and Diagnostic Reports:

The importance of providing the center with the documents and diagnostic reports lies in three key points:

First: Determining the applicant’s eligibility for the services provided by the Universal Access Center.

Second: Differentiating between students who face academic challenges resulting from their disabilities and students who have academic challenges because of other factors.

Third: Determining the quality of services and the appropriate academic adaptations.


Regulations of the Documents and Diagnostic Reports:


The regulations of the documents and diagnostic reports are not intended to impose restriction but to obtain substantive information on academic challenges arising from the students’ special needs. Therefore, the following regulations must be observed:



First: Qualifications of the assessor and diagnoser:


  1. The assessment process should be carried out by a qualified assessor/ expert, whether a psychologist or a neurologist.

  2. The qualifications of the assessor depend on the type of the disability, as shown in the following:

  1. Learning disabilities: it is preferred to be assessed by psychologists / specialists in learning disabilities.

  2. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): The assessment and diagnosis process is carried out by a neuropsychiatrist or a physician with previous experience in ADHD and its medication.

  3. Hearing impairment: it is diagnosed by an otolaryngologist or audiologist who identifies the degree of hearing loss.

  4. Visual impairment: it is diagnosed by a ophthalmologist who identifies the degree of vision loss, whether it is complete or partial vision loss.

  5. Motor Impairment: It is preferred that reports should be based on the diagnosis of a osteopathic physician and physiotherapist.

  6. Chronic diseases: It is preferred that reports should be based on the diagnosis of a medical specialist.



Second: Recency of diagnostic reports and documents:


Despite the importance of reports from schools (such as and inpidual educational plan or school certificates), the nature of disabilities signs varies according to the age group of the student. Therefore, the Center should be provided with recent diagnostic reports and documents, for any period not exceeding five years.


Content of diagnostic reports and documents:

Reports should include the following information:

  1. Primary information about the student such as age, gender, date of diagnosis, report date, and assessor’s qualifications.

  2. Reason for referral and other related matters.

  3. Developmental, educational, social, medical and vocational history of the case.

  4. A list of testing tools used.

  5. Behavioral observations during the test.

  6. Test results

  7. Discussion of the results and clinical judgment.

  8. Medical, psychological, or educational recommendations.


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To get services from the Universal Access Center, the applicant must register by providing the Center with the following:

  • Comprehensive diagnostic documents (medical or psychological report) indicating the disability or special need.

  • A copy of the academic record.

  • A copy of the secondary school certificate.

  • A copy of the achievement and aptitude tests.

  • A copy of university card.

Pass an initial interview.​