When a student graduates from high school, they have a lot of important decisions to make about what they will do for the rest of their lives. One of those decisions concerns the pursuit of further education. Obtaining a college degree is an increasingly important and often essential path to success in today's economy. When it comes to going to college, however, students with disabilities have a unique set of challenges that they must face and overcome. In addition, as young adults, they will be the ones who are primarily responsible for addressing issues that are related to their disability. These issues include, for starters, knowing their abilities and limitations. In addition, they will need to become familiar with rights and responsibilities under the law, find the resources that are available to disabled students, and seek help through various organizations and services, both on campus and off campus.
Preparing For College
All students need to prepare for college first by understanding the difference between the rules in college and high school. Education is compulsory by law from kindergarten through high school, and at the same time, schools are required to some extent to help students cope with issues such as disabilities. When it comes to college, however, students are not required by law to attend. This means that in many cases, it is up to the student to pursue accommodations for any physical or mental issues that may hinder their ability to learn or otherwise get the best out of their college experience. For instance, according to the Department of Education, disabled college students must make their condition or conditions known to the school in order to receive protection under the law, and they must do so in a timely manner.
The second step in preparing for college is to choose the right school. In addition to knowing which college has the best courses for one's intended major, it is also necessary to learn about how much help they offer disabled students. This is because some colleges and universities have a better reputation for accommodating students with disabilities than others. To do this, the student must understand their own abilities and limitations and learn how to advocate effectively for themselves. Students will also have to obtain the necessary documentation that proves and explains their disability. Another important task a student will need to carry out is obtaining financial aid. When taking a tour of the college, prospective students will need to know where the school's disability service office is located and the services they provide, as well as how to discuss their concerns with counselors. For example, hearing-impaired students will need to know if they can get help through sign language interpreters, note-taking services, or other forms of aid.
- Preparing Students with Disabilities for College
- College Funding for Students With Disabilities
- Students with Disabilities
- Scholarships for Students with Learning Disabilities
Know Your Student Rights
Students with impairments who are looking to attend college should become familiar with their rights under the law. The government has crafted a variety of laws to protect students with disabilities from discrimination in college so that they can receive the best education possible. Two of the most important laws that guarantee equal access to education for students with disabilities is the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, particularly Section 504, mandates that colleges that receive federal funding may not exclude or discriminate against students with disabilities. It also requires colleges to provide disabled students an equal opportunity to receive an education. This includes providing reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. These mandatory accommodations, for instance, include disabled parking spaces for students with qualifying conditions, such as kidney or liver diseases, or if they're wheelchair-bound. The Americans with Disabilities Act mandates protections for all students, whether the college receives federal government funding or not. Disabled students who are victims of discrimination can attempt to resolve this with the school, and if this doesn't work, they can file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights, which is a department of the U.S. Department of Education.
- What Laws Protect Students' Educational Rights during the Transition Process?
- The Civil Rights of Students With Hidden Disabilities Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- Rights of Students with Disabilities in Higher Education (PDF)
- ADA Q & A: Section 504 and Postsecondary Education
- National Association of the Deaf: State and Local Colleges and Universities
- Tulsa Community College: Student Rights and Responsibilities
- Rights and Responsibilities of Students in Higher Education (ADA)
- Disability Rights of North Carolina: Your Rights in College (PDF)
- Questions to Ask College Disability Services Staff
Success in College
Even though there are laws that require colleges to make certain accommodations for disabled students, students will still need to make their own efforts to achieve academic success. For example, they will need to make use of the various assistance options that are available at the school's disabled student services offices. They should also make the effort to network with other students. Students who are new to college can benefit from engaging other students with disabilities, as they can share experiences and dispense helpful advise. Meeting with instructors to discuss any special needs or concerns is also important for college success. This is all in addition to the normal tips that all students must keep in mind in order to maximize their educational experience. These include mastering proper study habits, prioritization of tasks, and time management.
- How Should Students With Disabilities Find the Right College?
- How to Succeed in College
- Georgia Tech: Tips For Students
- A Nuts And Bolts Guide To College Success For Deaf And Hard Of Hearing Students (PDF)
- A Guide to a Successful College Experience
The changes that come with attending college can be a challenge for students with disabilities. To help overcome these challenges and promote a successful college career, there are numerous organizations around the country. These organizations may be for the benefit of a specific discipline or disability or for the disabled community as a whole. In addition, these organizations often stand as advocates or the voice for the community, seek to promote positive change and equality, and offer advice. Organizations are also often a source of valuable resources and may provide assistance as needed.
- Association on Higher Education and Disability
- The George Washington University Heath Resources Center: Online Clearinghouse on Postsecondary Education for Individuals with Disabilities
- American Association of People With Disabilities
- Association of University Centers on Disabilities
- National Association of Blind Students
- National Association of Law Students with Disabilities
- We Connect Now
- The Arc
- Think College!