Students explain how Biola addresses disabilities

Two students share their gratitude for the Learning center along with incredible messages.

Adam Pigott, Staff Writer

(This story was originally published in print on Feb. 14, 2019).

Chad Ross should not have been able to walk or hear. But he ran cross country and reads lips.

“A lot of people view my lack of hearing as a disability. It is not,” Ross said.

Besides his own initiative, some of Ross’ transition to Biola has been due to the work of the Learning Center.


The Learning Center has made it their mission to provide accommodations to students with disabilities, according to the Learning Center director Jennifer Fanning.

“The Learning Center ensures legal compliance with state and federal disability law by providing reasonable and appropriate accommodations,” Fanning said in an email. “We advocate for students and facilitate with other departments across campus on the students’ behalf.”

Fanning also says each student is different in terms of the accommodations they require.

“Students who are hard of hearing need and require a variety of accommodations, and no two cases are exactly the same in that way,” Fanning said in the email. “This has everything to do with how an individual learns best and what they prefer as far as the type of accommodation(s) provided.”


Junior computer science major Ross was born deaf. He was given a cochlear implant at age two and did not start talking until he was about four years old. Growing up, he needed to attend speech therapy at a clinic in Los Angeles so he could learn how to hear and speak.

“My mom had to make a lot of sacrifices,” Ross said. “[She] had to drive all the way up to Los Angeles to go to a place called John Tracy Clinic. I got speech therapy there. They helped me learn how to hear and how to speak.”

Ross also said that the Learning Center has been able to help him to learn effectively.

“The accommodations at the Learning Center are very helpful,” Chad said. “They make sure to meet my needs, such as getting priority seating [in class].”


Ross is not the only student who says they have been helped by the Learning Center.

Senior voice performance major David Chung has a visual impairment. Chung and his family immigrated from South Korea because of the vast number of opportunities for students with disabilities in the U.S., compared to South Korea. He has faced many challenges as a result of his visual impairment, but that he has done so with God at his side, and with the Learning Center’s help.

“I think that the biggest accommodations with which they have provided me is converting books into PDF formats that is accessible for me,” Chung said. “I use a computer screen reading software that reads the screen for me.”


Ross still faces difficulty living with a cochlear implant. He described the experience as trying to listen to someone speak underwater and said that headaches can occur.

“Some of my friends that I grew up with from John Tracy Clinic definitely prefer not to have their cochlear implant on,” Ross said. “It can be so taxing trying to focus and listen to what people are saying. That is why, often times I try to focus on reading people’s lips. It relieves me of the mental burden of trying to understand what people are saying.”

But Ross says his professors help. Not only does he have professors who allow for priority seating, they also use FM sound systems. This helps Ross hear what his professors say more clearly.


Chung’s vision barely exists. The only thing he can perceive is light and darkness from shadows. As a result of this, he cannot see movement, and stated in a previous article that this would affect his ability to perform as a music major.


Ross also said that he believes that disabilities do not limit what a person can accomplish.

“Just because someone has something that you do not have, whether it is hearing, sight and so forth, that does not limit what they are able to do,” Ross said. “If you look at the history of some of the people that have had disabilities, they have numerous things that have helped society or have been profound. They just need to know how to do things a bit differently.”


Chung also expressed encouragement for other students with disabilities.

“I want people with disabilities to know that they are a complete, whole and perfect in Christ,” Chung said. “Do not let anyone tell you that you are less than that.”

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