Being in college means managing a demanding schedule. It is important to develop and utilize personal skills in the areas of self-advocacy, self-management, and study skills.
Fewer students with disabilities attend postsecondary institutions, and of those who do, fewer attend four-year institutions and eventually earn bachelors degrees than their nondisabled peers. A study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics found that two years after high school, 63% of the students with disabilities had enrolled in some form of postsecondary education, compared to 72% of the students without disabilities.
Be proactive in making distance learning courses accessible. Don't wait until students with a disabilities enroll to address accessibility issues; consider them from the start. Applying universal design principles benefits people both with and without disabilities. Begin by thinking about the wide range of abilities and disabilities potential students might have with respect to sight, hearing, mobility, and learning styles and abilities.
To maximize success in college, encourage students with disabilities to do the following:
Thousands of specialized hardware and software products available today allow individuals with a wide range of abilities and disabilities to productively use computing and networking technologies (Closing The Gap, 2002). However, assistive technology alone does not remove all access barriers. Described below are examples of access challenges faced by students and instructors in typical distance learning courses.
At the postsecondary educational level, a qualified student with a disability is a student with a disability who meets the academic and technical standards required for participation in the class, program, or activity. The standards for a student with a disability are the same as those for all students entering the program. However, a student with a disability may request and receive reasonable accommodations to demonstrate that they meet those standards.
Emerging Leaders is a program that partners with corporate sponsors to provide summer internships for college students with disabilities. Leadership development skills are emphasized in these positions and both students and businesses gain from the experience. Students are placed in a corporate context and are allowed to show their dedication and motivation in the business environment while the employers involved are able to welcome diverse individuals into their workplace.
Online mentoring can help students with disabilities with their social development and goals in education and careers. Some youth with disabilities are not accepted by their peers and experience isolation as a result. They have few friends or little contact with other students with disabilities and thus have limited access to positive role models with disabilities.
The rights and responsibilities of high school students with disabilities are different from those of college students with disabilities. Understanding the legal and practical issues involved can help students with disabilities successfully transition from high school to college.