College Resources for Students With Disabilities

Many students have a desire to further their education despite circumstances that might set them back. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that more than 200,000 students entering college have some type of learning disability. Additionally, only 17% of those students use learning assistive resources at their school. Education should be accessible to everyone, which has led to the development of college resources for students with disabilities to support students’ academic success. The American’s With Disabilities Act of 1990 has put in place laws and regulations to ensure that people with disabilities receive the same opportunities as others.

The transition to postsecondary education can be intimidating, especially under disability circumstances. Students are used to a routine and are familiar with resources provided to them by their high school or an additional program that they have been in. Transitioning to an unfamiliar schedule, campus, classes, housing and more can trigger high-stress levels for a lot of students. Knowing all options and resources available can help make the change easier. There is plenty of supportive assistance, outlets, technology, tools and more to accommodate each student and their unique situation.

While there are many different categories of disabilities, listed below are some of the most common disabilities with specific resources and support to help students academically succeed.

 

College Resources For Students With Disabilities

Attention Deficit Disorder

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Attention Deficit Disorder pertains to limited attention, poor concentration and hyperactivity. Many students with forms of ADD have learned to manage themselves through previous schooling. However, added stress and a new environment can affect students in a new way. The National Resource Center on ADHD reports that 2-8% of college students have some form of ADD/ADHD. Specifically focusing on the transition to college Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder lists all common questions and tools about making that significant change to a university.

 

Assistive Technology

  • Audible: Provides digital books, magazines, articles, etc. for students to listen to.
  • Co: Writer: Helps students focus on improving grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
  • Focus Gps: Boosts areas of memory, organization, concentration, and critical thinking.

 

Additional Support

  • Attention Deficit Disorder Association: Organized to help adults with ADD succeed by providing advocates and tools.
  • ADDitude: A proactive online magazine that provides information from mental health professionals for those living with ADD.
  • TotallyADD: This organization delivers resources and tools through social interaction, humor, and educational assistance.

 

Autism

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Present from early childhood, autism is a mental condition that consists of difficulty forming relationships and communicating concepts. As of recently, colleges have seen more high functioning individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder attending higher education institutions. Autism has been studied and researched by many intelligent individuals who have been able to increase technology to help make learning easier for people with ASD.

 

Assistive Technology

  • Dragon Dictation: Allows students to verbally dictate thoughts as opposed to writing them out.
  • AutiPlan: To help visual learners, AutiPlan is based on images rather than text.
  • Tobii C8: To help assist with communicating verbally, this tool helps with text and symbols to display and communicate a message.

 

Additional Support

  • Autism Research Institute: This institute’s goal is to improve the health and well being of ASD individuals.
  • Autism Speaks: Through research and promoting awareness through activities Autism Speaks helps treat physical and mental health issues related to ASD.
  • National Autism Association: The NAA focuses on educating people about ASD, especially family and friends of someone who has Autism and how they can help and support people affected by it.

 

Cognitive Disabilities

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Cognitive Disabilities include many different forms at different levels. These types of disabilities make it hard for students to learn at the same pace as others. Postsecondary education can be a challenge with fast pace learning in large groups. Fortunately, there are many advancements that have dramatically improved learning for those who have cognitive disabilities.

 

Assistive Technology

  • Intellikeys: Allows the personalizing of keyboards based on specific needs.
  • Touchscreen Monitor: For students who function better with touchscreen navigation as opposed to a mouse or trackpad.
  • Visual Impact Pro: Provides detailed instructions for daily tasks for individuals to become more independent.

 

Additional Support:

 

Learning Disabilities

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Learning Disabilities stem from neurologically based processing problems that impede skills such as writing, math or reading. The most common learning disability is dyslexia. More than half of students with learning disabilities plan on attending some form of higher education according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

 

Assistive Technology:

  • Brevity: This application helps with word completion for those who struggle with typing.
  • Breathe2Relax: A stress management tools that helps calm and relax individuals who experience common stress.
  • ClaroRead: This program makes words simpler and easier to understand to help make reading and writing more smooth.

 

Additional Support:

  • Learning Disabilities WorldWide: Its mission is to promote awareness worldwide through conferences, training, and events.
  • Council For Learning Disabilities: This organization focuses on education for individuals with learning disabilities and providing equal opportunities for them to learn.
  • VOR: Being a national organization, VOR advocates for the rights of those with disabilities in hopes to make each individual feel empowered.

 

Physical Disabilities

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Physical Disabilities can limit individuals from opportunities. Colleges have become more aware of physical barriers on campus and have worked to make campuses more accessible to all. The expansion of online degrees has also made it easier to attend a university. If there is a concern about mobility through campus, it is important to visit or call in advance to receive information regarding campus accessibility.

 

Assistive Technology:

  • FrogPad: A Single-handed touch-typing keyboard.
  • PageFlip: Hands-free page turning for those who need assistance with fine motor skills.
  • Keyguards: To avoid pressing other keys while typing, key guards sit on top of keyboards to make it easier to press the right keys.

 

Additional Support:

 

Speech Disorders

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Speech disorders stem from when a person has difficulty creating or forming sounds in order to communicate with others. Many schools have departments dedicated to helping students with language impairments, giving them practice and resources to improve their speech and studies. Speech disorders don’t necessarily prevent students from learning and keeping up with the curriculum, however, there are still plenty of tools to help students excel in their studies.

 

Assistive Technology:

  • Picture Planner: Personalized calendar with pictures to display schedules, daily tasks, etc.
  • Talking Dictionary: Easily look up any word to hear the pronunciation, its meaning, and how it is used.
  • CoolSpeech: Transmits digital text into spoken text that can be imported.

 

Additional Support:

 

Visual Disabilities

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World Health Organization states that 7% of people ages 15-44 have some type of visual impairment. Visual impairment is defined as eyesight that cannot be corrected to a ‘normal level’ such as surgery or wearing glasses or contacts. Those who are attending higher education may have trouble with their visual disability, but with the right tools and equipment, it can be a lot less taxing on the student.

 

Assistive Technology:

  • ClassMate Reader: This technology reads digital audio files with additional study tools available.
  • Eye-Pal: Through scanning technology, this app instantly converts text to speech.
  • Talking Checkbook: Helps students manage funds and bank with an audio platform.

 

Additional Support:

  • FamilyConnect: Provides a resource for families with children who have visual disabilities. Especially those who desire to pursue post-secondary education.
  • Lighthouse International: Visual and healthcare services through treatments to help with visual disabilities.
  • National Federation of the Blind: The largest organization regarding visual disabilities that provides help, events, news and more to spread awareness.

 

Receiving Academic Adjustments

It is important to understand your learning style so that you can get the most out of your studies. If potentially living alone, practicing independence skills ahead of time, such as doing your own laundry, can make the transition less intimidating.

Disclosing a personal disability to schools is optional, however, adjustments can be made to provide assistance to better help students if colleges and professors are aware of a student’s’ circumstance. Some of the academic adjustments include speech to text software, sound amplification aids, note taking services, accessible testing locations, sign language interpreters, course substitutions, and priority registration.  

 

Understanding Your Legal Rights (Section 504)

Even though colleges should provide the necessary resources for those who have disabilities, it is a good idea to know your rights and be able to feel comfortable speaking up for yourself if needs be. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is the earliest federal origins of disability rights legislation. The Office of Civil Rights, as well as the U.S Department of Education, ensures that Section 504 is being implemented. Being the first law in motion to protect the discrimination of disabled individuals, made ground breaking advancements in the education field. With this law, schools can not limit the number of disabled students admitted, they must accept all.The main purpose and advocacy of this law are to provide all students with equal opportunities despite certain backgrounds. Institutions that receive federal funding must abide by the legal obligations to provide students with disabilities equal services, benefits, and other opportunities.

To qualify for protected rights by Section 504, individuals must have a physical or mental condition that hinders aspects of their life.

The list includes:

  • Organic Brain Syndromes
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Digestive Ailments
  • Respiratory Conditions
  • Emotional/Mental Illness
  • Musculoskeletal Impairments
  • Sense Organ Impairments
  • Neurological Impairments

 

Financial Aid and Assistance

Post-secondary education does have a hefty price tag. Organizations who advocate for students with disabilities recognize that trying to keep up in school despite certain limitations and working can be difficult to manage. Because of this many financial aid and scholarships have been founded to specifically help those students who qualify.

  • Federal Student Aid: Provides funding and work-study opportunities to help students financially who have intellectual disabilities. Additional programs are put in place to help the student throughout their educational career.
  • FinAid: Allows students to take less of a work and school load and still be considered a full-time student for finance purposes and benefits.
  • National Directory of Financial Assistance Programs for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities: This directory includes specific websites for all categories of assistance. This can help students find funding that is tailored to their situation and can receive the full benefits from.
  • US Client Assistance Program: Not only is funding provided for those who are eligible, advocacy and representation are provided to protect students along the way.

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