College Resources for Students with Disabilities Support, Advocacy and Assistive Technology to Facilitate the Transition to Higher Education

With the advances of adaptive technologies and trend toward progressive legislation, prospective college students with disabilities now have countless resources available to make their transition to postsecondary education less stressful. Below, find specific information and resources on a variety of different disabilities, learn how to make the transition into the workforce easier, and find out what your legal rights on campus are.

Cobhams Asuquo graduated from Pacelli School for the Blind and King’s College Lagos before going on to study law. Eventually, however, he decided to pursue his lifelong passion of music professionally. Now considered a music pioneer in his native Nigeria, Asuquo works as a musician, producer and songwriter and has won multiple awards for his efforts, including Producer of the Decade at the Nigerian Music Awards.

“Blindness has taught me to keep trusting; to keep hoping; to keep believing.”

Cobhams Asuquo
Attention Deficit Disorder

While students with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) may have learned how to navigate their learning disability in high school, college can be very different. Added stress, experiencing independence for the first time, meeting many new friends, and having a heavier workload can throw any student for a loop at first. Statistics show approximately one-third of all high school students live with ADD, while college reports find approximately two to eight percent of college students have ADHD. Some of the notable people who successfully navigated college while living with ADD include David Neeleman, the founder of JetBlue Airways, and Charles Schwab, American businessman and founder of the Charles Schwab Corporation.

There can be many questions about ADD and how it affects students. The list below provides resources with answers to some of these common queries.

What is ADHD or ADD?

The National Resource Center on ADHD offers a comprehensive definition of these two terms.

What are the symptoms of ADD/ADHD in adults?

WebMD provides a list of the top 10 signs that an adult may have ADD or ADHD.

How can students with ADHD/ADD succeed in college?

This step-by-step guide by Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder covers all the common questions about the transition to college.

What resources are available at colleges for students with ADHD?

ADHD&You answers this question and more in their guide.

Why are ADHD accommodations important in college?

Psychology Today provides numerous reasons for seeking help during postsecondary studies.

There are a number of popular options for students with ADD to help focus their attention while in class or studying. These apps, devices and programs include:

Audible

Audible provides millions of audio books, digital magazines, newspapers and other reading materials for students who prefer to listen rather than read.

ClassMate Reader

This portable reader offers students the ability to listen to their textbooks and highlight material along the way.

Co:Writer

Co:writer is designed to help students hone their grammar, punctuation and spelling skills.

Focus Gps

This app helps students boost academic performance by assisting in areas of memory, concentration, and organization.

GoQ

For students who find it difficult to type long pieces, GoQ software provides advanced word prediction, eliminating the need to type every word in full.

Livescribe Pen

Although also functioning as a standard ballpoint pen, the Livescribe uses Bluetooth technology to send everything the student writes to a smartphone or tablet.

OnlineOCR

Students who like to make notes on their reading materials will find much use in this product, which converts scanned PDFs into editable formats.

Talking calculator

These devices help students hone their concentration by saying numbers and answers aloud.

Support and assistance for college students with Attention Deficit Disorder can be found through many national-level organizations, which focus on advocacy, research and resources. Standout examples include:

ADDitude.

ADDitude is an online magazine providing information and advice from mental health professionals across the nation for those living with ADD.

ADHDAware.

More so than other organizations, ADHDAware is focused on advocacy initiatives and empowering those living with ADD to reach their full potential.

Attention Deficit Disorder Association.

The ADDA is designed to offer information, resources and networking opportunities for adults with Attention Deficit Disorder.

Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

CHADD exists to provide support and advocacy via training and events to members of the organization.

National Resource Center on ADHD.

The NRC falls under the umbrella of CHADD, but provides an extensive and independent list of resources for those who have ADD and/or ADHD.

TotallyADD.

This website is devoted to serving adults with ADD via education, humor and social interaction. The organization also seeks to provide tools and support.

Autism

According to a 2014 report by the Harvard Review of Psychiatry, more highly functioning children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are attending college than ever before, leading to a greater understanding and set of resources to help each succeed. Many individuals with ASD have been successful in postsecondary education; notable graduates include Temple Grandin and Tom Dickson.

With ever-expanding research on ASD, many questions still exist. Some of the top areas of interest are given below, with links to research on the question at hand.

What exactly is autism?

Autism Speaks has a list of common characteristics, along with symptoms.

How many people does autism affect throughout the nation?

Data and statistics on Autism Spectrum Disorder are available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What is the autism spectrum?

WebMD has a comprehensive list of disorders included within the autism spectrum.

How can students with autism best prepare for college?

Child Mind Institute provides a snapshot of Zoe Gross, a Vassar student with autism who is excelling in her education.

What are some of the best resources available to students with autism seeking postsecondary education?

Check out Autism Speak’s comprehensive list of colleges, scholarships and organizations devoted to helping students achieve success.

Students with autism have many assistive resources at their disposal to make learning easier. New products, designed to enhance learning environments and educational services, are coming on the market regularly. Some of the top assistive products include:

Appy Autism

Though not a specific technology, this website acts as a comprehensive database of many different smartphone and tablet apps specifically designed to assist ASD users, including timers, pictorial representations, daily habit charts and mathematics assistants.

Audio Notetaker

This audio-based software allows students to record lectures directly and export them to a variety of devices.

AutiPlan

For students with ASD whobest learn visually, AutiPlan is a scheduler based around pictures, rather than words.

BIGtrack Trackball

This AT requires less fine motor control for students who may find it difficult to use a standard computer mouse.

Dragon Dictation

This technology allows students to dictate their thoughts or notes rather than typing them out.

Google Calendar

Free and straightforward, Google’s calendar feature is a great resource for students to plan and track their daily responsibilities. It can also be synched to smartphones and tablets.

Time Timer

This is a visual timer and clock that helps those with autism avoid abstract clock hands and see literal time pass.

Tobii C8

Students who may need a bit more assistance communicating verbally can turn to this technology, which operates as a speech-generating device via text and symbols.

Many national and local organizations furthering the advancement of autism awareness and education exist. Some top examples can be found below.

Autism NOW.

aNOW is primarily a resource organization, providing materials and information on autism in the workplace, the classroom and the community.

Autism Research Institute

In addition to supporting research in the field, ARI is a forerunner in promoting alternative treatments for autism.

Autism Society

At its core, the mission of ASAF is to raise funds to support ongoing research into the many questions surrounding autism. The organization also hosts an annual national conference.

Autism Speaks.

Focused on advocacy initiatives, AS sponsors research and regularly promotes awareness and outreach activities related to autism.

National Autism Association.

NAA focuses on educating the general public and families of those with autism on safety and support; the organization also provides information about expanding research on ASD.

Cognitive Disabilities

While cognitive disabilities can take many forms, the most common include difficulty in learning at the same pace as other students, or difficulty mastering skills necessary to live and work independently. While in the past, postsecondary educational options were not promoted to those experiencing cognitive disabilities, today’s breadth of medical, technical and educational advancements are leading to more students undertaking collegiate coursework. To get a better sense of what defines cognitive disabilities and what resources are available, review the frequent questions below.

What exactly does the term “cognitive disability” cover?

WebMD answers this question and more in their guide on cognitive problems and brain development.

What are some signs of cognitive disability?

The Women’s and Children’s Health Network reviews common terminology, causes and signs of cognitive disability.

Are there academic programs designed specifically for students with cognitive disabilities?

Vanderbilt University’s Next Steps program provides two-year individual programs of study for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. There are numerous programs with similar structures throughout the nation.

What other educational options are available?

The Institute for Community Inclusion provides a breakdown of options and findings on current programs.

Are there promising practices emerging in higher education for students with cognitive disabilities?

Think College! provides a comprehensive overview of institutions offering the best programs and explains the common structure.

The field of assistive technology for those with cognitive disabilities is constantly expanding. Whether helping students take notes or creating individualized study systems, these technologies are excellent options for achieving success at the postsecondary level.

Dana

This portable keyboarding technology supports transcription while also helping students edit and revise their writing.

Endeavor Desktop Environment.

Creates an individualized and customizable desktop for students via a simplified picture and audio system.

First Then Visual Scheduler

Helps students easily manage their calendar via images rather than words.

Intellikeys.

For students who have difficulty with a standard keyboard, Intellikeys allows users to create individualized keyboards based on their needs.

Medialexie Scribe

Provides text-to-speech, speech-to-text, word prediction, note taking and phonetic transcription tools.

Touchscreen Monitor.

Perfect for students who prefer to use their finger or a stylus to navigate websites rather than a mouse or track pad.

Visual Impact Pro.

Provides clear, step-by-step instructions for many daily tasks to help students living on their own for the first time learn important skills.

Whether seeking local support or national advocacy, there are countless nonprofits devoted to furthering the quality of life and more widespread opportunities for those with cognitive disabilities. Assistance and further resources can be found through these top organizations:

American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

AAIDD promotes education and awareness of the spectrum of intellectual and developmental disabilities through membership initiatives, policy development and research.

Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities.

This program is based at the University of Colorado and works tirelessly to develop ways of incorporating scientific and technological advances into solutions for those with cognitive disabilities.

Learning Disabilities Association of America.

This national organization provides support, advocacy, legislative policy initiatives and educational resources. The website also features an “Ask the Expert” function for those seeking answers about learning disabilities.

The Arc.

This advocacy organization fights for the rights and full participation of both adults and children experiencing intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, with local chapters in addition to national activity.

Hearing Impairments

Hearing impairments are experienced by approximately 15 percent of Americans aged 18 and over, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. While in the past it may have seemed daunting to attend class as a student experiencing hearing impairment, today’s colleges are usually well-equipped to provide various assistive technologies to make learning seamless. Some of the top resources are given below. There are many notable college graduates who experienced hearing impairments, like Thomas Edison and Helen Keller.Have questions about hearing impairment? Some of the most common areas of interest are addressed below, with resources provided for each.

What types of hearing technology are available?

The Center for Hearing and Communication provides an overview of the latest technology to help those with hearing impairments.

How do I recognize hearing loss?

If students think they may be experiencing hearing impairment, use Hearing Health Foundation’s helpful list of questions to determine if action should be taken.

Are there schools available that cater to those with hearing impairments?

Gallaudet University is the only four-year liberal arts university in the world for students experiencing deafness or hardness of hearing.

How does constant exposure to loud noise affect hearing loss?

Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers answers this question and provides a list of products available to help cut out loud sounds.

What if I can’t afford hearing technology?

Hear Now is a great resource for those with limited income, providing hearing aids for both adults and children.

Students may be concerned they’ll miss out on everything happening in class, but advances in assistive technology have made this a nonissue. Some of the innovative hearing impairment assistive products available include:

4AlarmClocks

Provides special alarm clocks for hearing impaired students, ensuring they never miss class.

AudioNote

This notepad and voice recording technology helps students translate audio notes into written text, providing easy access to course materials.

ListenTech

Provides a spectrum of assistive listening devices for students seeking to improve their hearing ability.

MovieCaptioner

Technology for easily adding captions to any visual materials.

MyVoice

An alternative and augmentative communication aid for students who communicate with a device.

Sign 4 Me

A smart phone and tablet app that teaches sign language via 3D images and videos.

Wondering where to turn for support or information about hearing impairment? The top five national organizations include:

American Hearing Research Foundation.

Those looking to learn more about hearing impairments will find the AHRF very useful. The organization has two primary functions: to fund research in hearing and balance disorders and to education the general public on hearing loss and issues related to balance.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Students seeking a medical or sign language professional can consult ASLHA, the national credentialing association for over 180,000 audiologists, speech pathologists and scientists who study issues related to hearing impairment.

Better Hearing Institute.

The focus of this nonprofit is educating both the public and the medical world on hearing impairment and best practice for treatment. The organization also has a free Hearing Helpline to provide education and information on the topic.

Hearing Loss Association of America.

This national group provides assistance, resources, advocacy, events and an online community to support those with hearing impairment. The website also has numerous sections for college-aged students.

National Association of the Deaf

Identifying as the premier civil rights organization for the deaf and hard of hearing, NAD provides education on hearing impairment, resources, events and special youth leadership opportunities.

Learning Disabilities

As defined by the Learning Disabilities Association of America, learning disabilities are “neurologically-based processing problems” that typically interfere with skills such as reading, writing or math. Common types of learning disabilities include dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia or auditory processing disorder. In 2014, the National Center for Learning Disabilities found that 54 percent of high school students with learning disabilities hope to attend a two or four-year college, while 43 percent plan to attend a vocational training program. There are many recognizable names of people with learning disabilities who have achieved success in a variety of areas. Some of these include Orlando Bloom, Albert Einstein and Agatha Christie.

For students with questions about learning disabilities, the section below provides answers and valuable resources.

How can learning disabilities be detected?

WebMD offers a comprehensive guide on how to detect various types of learning disabilities.

How do learning disabilities affect skills in reading, writing and math?

HelpGuide answers these questions and more in their guide on learning disabilities.

What are some paths to consider after high school?

Understood provides a list of educational and professional options after finishing secondary education.

How can colleges better serve students with learning disabilities?

Campus Technology offers an overview of various technologies that can help students thrive while undertaking postsecondary coursework.

What are the academic accommodations provided for students in college?

The University of Washington offers an overview of common accommodations students with learning disabilities can expect at the college level.

Many assistive technologies are available to students with learning disabilities, ranging from programs to lessen the effects of dyslexia to apps that help reduce stress. Some of the top technologies include:

Breathe2Relax

Breathe2Relax is a portable stress management tool, which helps students calm and center themselves.

Brevity

An excellent app for students who may have difficulty typing, Brevity helps with word completion.

ClaroRead

This dyslexia support software breaks down words phonetically to help make reading and writing easier.

MyScript Calculator

Rather than pressing buttons, MyScript allows users to write and calculate equations.

Say It & Mail It Pro.

Allows students to record and email voice memos from smart phones and tablets.

Symbaloo

For laptops and home computers, Symbaloo provides icon based social bookmarks rather than words.

Wondering where to turn for support and information about learning disabilities? These five national organizations offer everything from advocacy and awareness to research to financial aid opportunities.

Council for Learning Disabilities

This international organization promotes effective education for those with learning disabilities and provides research and resources to accomplish that goal.

Learning Disabilities Association of America

This nonprofit supports those with learning difficulties, provides advocacy and awareness initiatives, supports legislation to further the rights of students with LDs, and provides a steady stream of up-to-date resources and research.

Learning Disabilities Worldwide.

LDW has many initiatives, including research, prevention and identification awareness, and the sponsorship of conferences, training and events surrounding further awareness of learning disabilities.

National Center for Learning Disabilities

NCLD is focused on empowering students, transforming education and advocating for equal rights and opportunities. The organization also provides numerous scholarships and awards.

VOR

This national group provides a legislative voice for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, with a focus on promoting rights and awareness.

Physical Disabilities

The National Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 7.3 percent of adults are unable (or find it very difficult) to walk a quarter of a mile, while 15 percent of adults have some type of physical functioning difficulty. In recent years, college campuses have worked to make academic and residential buildings accessible for all students, regardless of physical limitations. The rising availability of online degrees has also made college more accommodating to those with physical disabilities. Countless students have successfully navigated postsecondary education with a physical disability, most notably scientist Stephen Hawking and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Below is a list of questions common to physical disabilities, with resources provided for each.

What are some common types of physical disabilities?

The The National Education Association of Disabled Students provides a list of types of physical disabilities.

Are there accommodations for students with physical disabilities?

Bright Hub Education reviews different ways educational institutions can make safe and accessible campuses for all students.

Are there online resources to talk with others about physical disabilities?

Disabilities-R-Us provides an online chat room, community resources and various platforms for engaging with others experiencing physical disabilities.

What are the specifics of the Americans with Disabilities Act?

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission offers answers to common questions about this law.

Where are the top colleges offering highly accessible campuses?

101Mobility compiled a list of their six favorite highly-accessible college campuses.

Physical disabilities don’t have to hold anyone back in this modern age of technology. These assistive devices are designed to help students accomplish their goals.

Dragon Voice Recognition

For students with accessibility issues, Dragon puts their voices to work to complete computing work easily.

FrogPad

Provides a single-handed touch-typing keyboard.

Keyguards

Keyguards sit on top of keyboards, making it easier to avoid hitting unintended keys.

Mounting Systems.

Allows students to mount their technology or other study devices to specific places.

PageFlip

For students who seek assistance with fine motor skills, PageFlip provides hands-free page turning for books, magazines, and other reading materials.

Rock Switch-adapted Joystick.

This device provides an excellent alternative for students who seek minimal hand movement while computing.

Looking for further information about physical disabilities or seeking details on advocacy efforts? These nonprofits are leading the way in innovative care.

American Association on Health and Disability.

AAHD offers a comprehensive resource center, the Disability and Health Journal, and a list of publications designed to educate and raise awareness.

Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund.

This organization has a mission of providing a national civil rights law and policy center focused on furthering the interests of those living with physical disabilities.

Disabled Sports USA

Offers national sports rehabilitation programs for those with physical disabilities.

National Organization on Disability

NOD offers a variety of services centered on advancing opportunities for those living with physical disabilities.

The American Association of People with Disabilities

This advocacy group champions rights and opportunities, economic growth, independent living and political awareness for people with physical disabilities.

Speech Disorders

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that somewhere between six and eight million Americans have some form of language impairment, with many beginning in the first six months of their lives. Speech disorders never have to be a barrier to attaining a postsecondary degree, and many schools have departments or staff devoted to ensuring all students receive the accommodations necessary to thrive in their studies. Some of the most common questions surrounding attending college as a student experiencing a speech disorder are reviewed within this section.

What considerations should students experiencing speech disorders receive in college?

Rutgers has an informative discussion on common accommodations to consider.

What are the common types of speech and language disorders?

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association provides an in depth look at each of the common disorders, including apraxia, dysarthia, stuttering and aphasia.

How can speech-language impairments be identified?

The National Center for Biotechnology Information offers a fascinating academic paper on the topic.

What is speech-language pathology and how does it work?

The Kennedy Krieger Institute has answers to these questions and more in their comprehensive guide.

Have other students with speech disorders excelled in college?

Wichita State University offers an excellent story of a student who turned their speech disorder into a career.

Speech disorders don’t have to slow students down; by utilizing assistive technology, they can excel in their studies. Some of the best resources currently available include:

CoolSpeech.

Converts digital text into spoken text that can be imported.

My Talk Tools.

Allows students to communicate through a variety of mediums, including images, pictures, symbols and/or audio files.

Picture Planner.

This personalized calendaring software uses pictures rather than words to create a daily/weekly schedule.

Proloquo2Go.

This app is one of the most highly acclaimed assistive communication apps for portable devices.

Speech Trainer 3D.

This app helps students practice sounds via consonants and vowels to improve speech delivery.

Talking Dictionary.

Helps students easily look up any word to understand pronunciation, how it is used and its meaning.

TextSpeak.

These talking keyboards immediately convert typed text into speech.

There are many organizations advocating for those with speech disorders while simultaneously educating the general public. Some of the most prolific national nonprofits include:

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

This nonprofit offers publications, advocacy and educational resources in addition to certification and continuing education opportunities for those interested in the field.

Center for Hearing and Communication.

A variety of services are available from this multi-location organization, including the latest information on speech technology.

Center for Speech and Language Disorders.

Provides therapeutic solutions for families and professionals in addition to a list of resources.

Dysphagia Research Society.

With a focus on the science of swallowing, this member-based society is committed to promoting research and awareness of dysphagia.

The Aphasia Hope Foundation.

AHF is specifically focused on providing research and resources for those experiencing aphasia.

Visual Disabilities

While approximately 65 percent of all visually impaired people are aged 50 or older, seven percent of cases occur in individuals aged 15-44. According to the World Health Organization, 80 percent of all visual impairments can be prevented or cured. Visual impairment in college doesn’t have to be a setback, with many resources, technologies and accommodations available at countless schools. Some of the most accomplished college graduates who experienced a visual disability include Andrea Bocelli, Louis Braille and James Thurber. There are many questions surrounding visual disabilities; some of the top ones are answered below.

What is visual impairment?

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has an exhaustive catalog of information detailing varied types of vision impairment.

How many people are affected by visual impairment worldwide?

As a leading expert on global health, WHO offers an up-to-date statistical analysis of visual disabilities.

How can students with visual disabilities best prepare for college?

The American Foundation for the Blind has a number of helpful tips for making the most of the college experience.

What about once students get to college?

Pacer provides a step-by-step guide on how to navigate common college questions that students with visual disabilities may have.

What types of accommodations are available when taking college entrance exams?

Whether taking the ACT or SAT, FamilyConnect educates students and their parents on accommodations available.

Learn more with our comprehensive guide on how colleges are working to help students with visual disabilities succeed.

Assistive technologies for visually disabled students are numerous and varied. No matter the task at hand, there is likely a piece of equipment or program available to provide assistance. Some of the most interesting technologies available today include:

Audible.

Provides a plethora of audio books, radio programs and audio versions of popular materials accessible via computer, smartphone, tablet or other audio players.

Big Keys Keyboard.

This keyboard features keys four times larger than the average piece of hardware.

Big Launcher

A smartphone app that makes all text larger.

Braille Sense.

This device is a note-taker with a Braille keyboard for inputting information and refreshable Braille dots for reading.

Cicero.

By utilizing a scanner, Cicero takes scanned documents and translates them to speech or large print documents.

ClassMate Reader.

This device reads digital audio files and books, with further embedded study tools.

Eye-Pal.

An on-the-go scanner that instantly converts printed materials to speech, text files or Braille.

Talking Checkbook.

This technology helps students manage their funds and banking more easily via an audio platform.

Whether a student or a family member of someone with a visual impairment, the organizations listed below are committed to providing a plethora of programs and services to achieve success.

American Council of the Blind.

Whether working to further opportunities or quality of life for those with visual impairments or educating the public, ACB offers a wide spectrum of services and educational initiatives.

American Foundation for the Blind.

This national nonprofit offers a variety of programs and services to assist those with visual impairments. They also provide access to a number of publications on the topics.

FamilyConnect.

This organization is devoted to providing resources and support for parents of children with visual impairments, including those aspiring to undertake postsecondary education.

Lighthouse International.

LI has a mission of fighting vision loss through prevention and treatment initiatives, while educating the general public about low vision and blindness.

National Federation of the Blind.

As the largest organization representing those with visual impairments in America, NFB operates both on the national level and through local chapters in every state.

Making the Transition from High School to College

While transitioning from high school to college can be daunting for any student, those with disabilities are likely to have unique needs and additional requirements. In today’s educational landscape, navigating these new challenges doesn’t have to be difficult. Many colleges offer resources to help students with disabilities adapt, such as:

  • Accessible dorm rooms
  • Modified examinations
  • Assistive technology
  • Course substitutes
  • Priority registration
  • Sign language interpretation

Students and their families should consult potential colleges about the types of accommodations and resources provided. They should also ensure the school offers proper housing to meet their needs; this is generally done through the Office of Campus Housing. Most residential advisors will be educated on how to serve all students living within their dormitory, including those with disabilities.

As students prepare to graduate high school and start college, there are a few things they, along with their families, can do to make the transition easier. The top five ways to make this change as smooth as possible are:

  • 1. Understand your study style. There will be a lot more coursework to get through at the collegiate level, so take time to think about how you work best: try breaking down projects into manageable steps, develop a plan for taking notes, look into assistive technology, and make contact with your professors as soon as possible to find out what resources may be available.
  • 2. Simulate independent living. Whether it’s doing laundry for the first time or learning how to manage money, these new skills often sneak up on students in their first year of college. Rather than having to learn about these parts of college life in the midst of cramming for tests, try to practice some of these skills while still in high school.
  • 3. Think about logistics. There will be many new experiences when starting college, and students with disabilities may need to think about additional components of everyday life. Considering the best paths to classrooms or creating a schedule that allows ample time to get from point A to point B will help alleviate a lot of stress once school starts.
  • 4. Speak up for yourself. While colleges have advanced greatly in providing safe and supportive environments for students with disabilities, you may sometimes need to speak up about your needs, as others may not think about logistics or day-to-day events in the same way. Develop your confidence to let others around you know if your needs aren’t being met.
  • 5. Read up about your rights. Students with disabilities are protected under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Students and their families should review this document to understand the responsibilities a college has to all students with disabilities.

There are a number of resources available to help students make the transition. These sites and groups offer articles, guides and support for students from freshman to doctoral-level:

  • AHEADD

    This organization is a comprehensive college support system, helping students with disabilities excel both academically and socially.

  • Going to College

    This comprehensive website serves as a holistic guide for teens with disabilities transitioning into college life.

  • Office for Civil Rights

    Students interested in learning more about their rights and responsibilities can find all of this information at the U.S. Department of Education’s website.

  • PhDisabled

    Specially created for students with disabilities undertaking doctoral level education, this website connects students from across the world while also providing support and advice.

  • Understood

    This website features a wide range of articles about leaving high school and transitioning to postsecondary study as a student with a disability.

  • We Connect Now

    This organization, created in 2008, specializes in highlighting the rights and issues of those with disabilities, particularly as they relate to higher education and employment.

Post-Graduation to Career: Ensuring Continued Success

Like any student transitioning from school to work, students with disabilities should do their homework on their intended field and career. Whether learning about the company, identifying educational requirements, or important job duties, students should have a good sense of the types of employment they want to pursue. Depending on their type of disability, students may want to consider other factors, such as level of writing involved, the need to be constantly on their feet, or the level of organizational or time-management skills. Again, like any student, they should be aware of their strengths and skill sets and seek out jobs that will be suited to those and will meet their professional aspirations.

A number of resources are available to help students with disabilities make the transition into the workforce. The following sites provide transitional and professional information and support to those ready to take the step from student to full-time work.

  • American Youth Policy Forum

    This organization provides a webinar on how students with disabilities can make successful transitions into careers.

  • Career Development & Transition for Exceptional Individuals.

    This academic journal provides articles on a variety of topics related to students with disabilities developing their careers.

  • Career Transition Supports.

    Many universities will offer additional career resources to students with disabilities. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides a good example of typical services available.

  • Council for Exceptional Children

    This organization has a special Division on Career Development and Transition for students with disabilities moving into professional environments.

  • Learning Disabilities Online

    LDOnline has an entire section of their website devoted to making the transition from school to work, with a variety of helpful articles.

  • Office of Disability Employment Policy

    ODEP has a special section devoted to youth, covering a variety of employment topics.

  • The Viscardi Center

    VC provides a variety of resources related to career development, employment preparation, and independence for students with disabilities.

Other Important Resources
Financial Aid

Whether offered as a scholarship, grant, federal fund, or other, students can take advantage of a variety of funding resources. Many universities and colleges will offer in-house scholarships for students, while other outside organizations, nonprofits or foundations frequently offer additional aid. Take a look at our complete guide on financial aid opportunities to learn about the many assistance programs available to students with disabilities.

Students with disabilities may have special considerations to think about when applying for a job, especially those related directly to a specific disability. Many organizations will work with potential candidates to identify modifications, so maintaining an open dialog with potential employers is key. There are a number of career sites for students with disabilities, offering information about finding the best fit for individual needs and aspirations. Some of the best website and job boards include:

ABILITYJobs.

ABILITY seeks to enable those with disabilities to find employment fit to their unique needs and professional goals.

Disability Job exchange.

No matter the field of work a potential candidate may be seeking, this website provides a comprehensive list of industries and positions to make finding the right position easier.

Getting Hired.

GH serves job seekers with disabilities by offering a powerful search tool and resources for locating a job matched to their needs.

Hire Disability Solutions.

This organization seeks to help job seekers with disabilities locate a career and increase their independence.

Job Accommodation Network.

JAN works specifically to help individuals with disabilities find their perfect job.

Recruit Disability.

In addition to providing a job board, RD offers information on competitive salaries, companies that are hiring and resume assistance.

At the collegiate level, students with disabilities have numerous rights – and responsibilities. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is administered by the Office of Civil Rights and has a number of requirements and provisions in place to ensure all students have proper access, accommodations and adjustments available to them. While students are not required to disclose any disabilities, they will need to alert the school if they need academic adjustments. Some of these could include assistive technology, scribe services, accessible test locations, priority class registration, or substitutions for courses.

Because Section 504 is mandated through federal funding, students should be aware that schools not receiving this type of aid are not required to comply with the legislation. These institutions will likely have other legal requirements in place, including Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Organizations providing further information about rights are given below.

Overview of Educational Rights.

PBS explains the nuances of legislation for students with disabilities.

Understanding Section 504.

The Department of Health & Human Services provides a fact sheet on everything students need to know about this legislation.

Understanding Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Department of Justice lays out the rules and requirements of this legislation as it pertains to individuals with disabilities.

Varied Legislation.

The University of Washington reviews a number of other pieces of legislation, ensuring students are aware of all responsibilities a college has to them.

What is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act?

The National Resource Center on ADHD provides a comprehensive review of common questions about the IDEA.

Which Laws Do What?

Understood provides an at-a-glance look at various legislation surrounding students with disabilities.