Choosing the right college is already a daunting task for any high school graduate, but it can be especially difficult for those with a disability. Beyond location and financial considerations, disabled students need to find a school with adequate resources to meet their needs.
Many colleges offer special accommodations for students with mobility impairments and learning disabilities. Legislation introduced over the past several decades has helped to further the cause of disabled students, giving them the same rights as their peers and leveling the academic playing field. Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, an institution receiving federal funding cannot limit the number of students with disabilities admitted and cannot restrict students because of their limitations.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 also ensured that disabled adults had the right to an education. Title II of the act prohibits discrimination by public colleges and requires schools to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled students, while Title III prohibits discrimination by private universities. Though legislation is in place to protect disabled students, every school has its own unique interpretation when it comes to reasonable accommodations, and it’s important to learn all you can about a prospective school’s policies before making a final decision.
Learn About Services Offered
Every school offers different services and facilities for its students, including the disabled population. Depending on the school, reasonable accommodation for a disabled student can include a number of things, such as:
- Ramps, curbs, and lifts to access buildings
- Learning assistance programs, including interpreters, readers, note-takers, and more
- Additional time to complete coursework
- Alternative course requirements
- Modified tests and assignments
You can find out more about what services a school offers by speaking with the institution’s disability office or department. A representative should be able to tell you if the school can provide accommodations that suit your disability.
Visit the Campus
After doing your research, visiting prospective colleges is one of the best ways to get a feel for the place. Not only can you see if the lifestyle suits your preferences, but you can also check out the disabled accessibility options of buildings on campus as well as other facilities in person. During a visit, you can consider important questions such as:
- Are there elevators in multiple-story buildings?
- Does the library have accessible aisles and shelving?
- Are residence halls close to classes?
- Are there ramps and cut curbs along the sidewalks?
- Is there enough handicapped parking?
Taking a trip to colleges that interest you also gives you the chance to speak with students living and working on campus. You can chat with others who have similar disabilities to get an inside perspective on the services and accommodations that a university offers.
This article was contributed by guest author Sally Writes.