5 questions college-bound students with disabilities should ask now

graduates-free-stockI am pleased to introduce Judy Shanley, Assistant Vice President of Education & Youth Transition here at Easter Seals, as a guest blogger today.

by Judy L. Shanley, Ph.D.

When young people leave high school to attend college, their services, expectations and procedures change. The US Department of Education has produced a nice publication on the service differences between high school and college. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) assures students with disabilities (whether those disabilities are significant or mild) that as long as they meet the eligibility requirements and documentation requirements in college, they should be provided accommodations and supports aligned with their needs.

All colleges have a disability resource center or student support center that can help students identify the most appropriate supports to facilitate their learning, and the costs for these services are often absorbed by the college. Services like extended time on tests, note-takers, tutoring, alternate formats and so on are offered in inclusive college programs so that students — regardless of their disabilities — can access them.

Alternately, some higher education programs focus exclusively on a particular group of students, such as those with learning disabilities. One prominent college is Landmark College in Vermont, whose programs are specifically tailored to students with learning disabilities. Landmark College is a private school, just like any other private school, and tuition is considered high. Financial aid is based on family financial assets and is a needs-based program. When selecting the right sort of college for you, you might ask the following questions

  1. What academic and social support services am I likely to need in college?
  2. What services can a particular college provide?
  3. What is the process for accessing these services?
  4. What is tuition?
  5. How much financial aid, or other financial support can I get (student loans, grants, and so on)?

Two other great higher education and disability resources I recommend are the Association on Higher Education & Disability and the HEATH Resource Center.

One last thing — I always encourage visits to college campuses, and many colleges offer a transition-like program where you can spend a weekend on campus to learn more about the services. Talk with academic advisers, disability support professionals, and other students to get a “feel” for the variety and availability of support services — I have known students with learning disabilities and intellectual disabilities who have attended two-and four-year colleges (both public and private) and have been successful!

Related Resources:

If you are a young women with a disability, you may find support, advice and inspiration through Easter Seals Thrive online


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  1. Beth Finke Says:

    Oh, Judy, thanks for pointing that out. I’ve fixed it now…my apologies.

  2. Judy Says:

    Tried to access the links within the ” 5 Questions..” article and they appear to be broken; Error 404 not found appears.

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