Colleges for Students with Disabilities. The Guide to Where to Look for the Best One

Colleges for Students with Disabilities

Searching for a good college or university is an important step in students’ lives. However, looking for disability friendly options makes this process more challenging. The issue is not in the lack of colleges for special needs students. The issue is that when you look for disability friendly colleges or universities, you must consider more factors for the student’s comfort and academic ambitions.

In this compilation of schools, universities, and colleges for students with disabilities, you will find all the answers you seek.

Best Schools for Special Education: How to Identify Disability-Friendly Schools

If you are looking for a well-equipped school for disabled students, there are three crucial factors to consider:

  • Know your specific needs and requirements for the school. For instance, you may ask yourself: what are your top 10 minimum requirements for school’s accommodations and accessibility? Some disabled students may need access to specific assistive technology (communication boards, audio recorders), and others may require accessible ramps and elevators.
  • Check the school’s accreditation and licenses. The presence of appropriate staff qualifications and access to both on-campus vs. homeschooling services (individualized education plans) are must-haves for inclusive education.
  • The appropriate student-to-staff ratio. The best option is disability-friendly, because it has enough teachers to accommodate students.

Students with disabilities in higher education. The best examples of education inclusiveness

The rights of college students with disabilities fall under the protection of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Although each higher education institution in the US must not violate the rights of disabled students, many colleges differ in the matter of equipment and appropriately trained teachers. Hence, if you can move to another state, it makes sense to consider the best disability friendly colleges in the US.

  • Edinboro University of Pennsylvania

Special needs services: One can freely name Edinboro University as being among the best special education schools in the USA. The university proposes a great number of accommodation options, including classroom supplies, disability-friendly testing facilities, and comfortable residences for qualifying students. The Office for Students with Disabilities has also developed the Boro Autism Support Initiative for Success, covering one of the most common disability types. To make the higher education disability transition much less troublesome, the university has a Bridge Program to make each student feel comfortable and welcome.

Academic services: The university has 119 baccalaureate degree programs, 37 graduate programs, and 11 associate degree programs. In 2017, the university was ranked among the Top Online Schools for Students with Disabilities.

  • Kenyon College

Special needs services: Kenyon College is a private institution focused primarily on liberal arts and is located in Gambier, Ohio. This is one of the best disability friendly colleges for those with moderate or high-functioning types of disabilities. What fascinates students about it is the number of specialized facilities for academics, curriculum, and testing accommodations. For instance, its students can request:

  • A reduced course load
  • Course substitution
  • Language requirement substitutions
  • Note-taking accommodations
  • Extended testing time

These services benefit students with diverse health issues, including learning disabilities, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, and hearing impairments.

Academic services: The college’s curriculum offers more than 50 majors, minors, and concentrations. For instance, among other studies, students can acquire philosophy, music, psychology, and sociology majors. There is no application fee, and many scholarship options usually range from $10,000 to $25,000 a year.

Best schools for adults with disabilities

Best schools for adults with disabilities. How do I search for the best schools for special needs near me?

If you are looking for the best schools for special needs children, youth, and adults, there is good news. The School & District Navigator service can help you define all the schools in your area first and even specify your request to search only for special education institutions. The available data on the website includes enrollment details, physical address, and the availability of online programs. Here is what the map looks like:

Special Education Map

Best colleges for disabled students. How common are they, and where do you find official information?

  • How common are they?

Special needs colleges, universities, and schools are not uncommon in general. In 2019/2020, Statista reported 1,932 special education schools and 5,215 alternative schools in the US. However, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) recognizes 13 main disability types, which is a lot to cover for one educational center. Even the diversity and inclusion-friendly colleges in your close proximity may not have the exact resources you need.

  • Where should I find official data?

If you wonder how disability services in higher education work and what your rights are as an applicant to colleges for disabled people, here are the answers. Under the supervision of the US Department of Education, there is the Office for Special Education and Rehabilitation Services. The program has operated since 1979 and is responsible for supporting schools, colleges, and universities on their way to better inclusiveness. To learn more about programs and policies, you can study the free-access data by OSERS.

The OSERS’ vision sees the future of the US nation as follows: “All Americans with disabilities will live and thrive with their disabilities in their own communities.” People with disabilities finding their dream colleges is a part of implementing this vision into life.

Colleges for Students with Disabilities. Colleges with Outstanding Facilities for Physical Accessibility

The best colleges for special education can be roughly divided into two types: physical impairment-friendly colleges and ones specializing in psychological assessment. Of course, the best colleges for students with disabilities aim to cover many requirements. Yet, it’s complicated to cover them all. Hence, here are the best colleges in the category of physical facilities.

Ball State University

One of the best disability friendly institutions is the public Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Physical disability in college is mainly challenging because of the lack of free access to different locations. To address this problem, Ball State University seriously invested in the campus’ improvement. The results are in the list of Accessibility of Campus Buildings. It’s a good college for disabled adults as the list of accessible facilities is quite large:

  • Accessible Parking
  • Accessible Entrances
  • Accessible Restrooms
  • Gender Neutral Restrooms
  • Elevator
  • Accessible Locker Rooms
  • Accessible Seatings in the Worthen Arena

What’s even better is that these facilities expand to academic and non-academic buildings, recreation, and entertainment areas. The university even has specific event accommodations. If you want to attend a game, conference, commencement, show, or other special event organized within the university, you can reach out for assistance.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign presents itself as one of the most accessible colleges, even on the international scale. It is indeed a good college for special needs adults and youth as it has a few crucial options to improve student’s well-being:

  • On-campus transportation to deliver students to different buildings, dormitories, medical and recreational facilities
  • Of-campus bases
  • Daily room service (which is one of the best disability-friendly services as it helps with daily processes, such as cleaning the room)
  • Interior access routes
  • Assistive listening systems
  • Personal assistance services
  • Accessible housing accommodations
  • Accessible desks
  • Accessible entries, parking, restrooms, and elevators

Moreover, the institution can be considered one of the best disability friendly colleges as its students strive in a few types of athletics. The most outstanding ones are men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball. One of the best disability-friendly initiatives in the university is the Achievement and Leadership Awards, which grants financial support and recognition.

College for Special Needs Students. Top Colleges for Learning Disabilities

The other category of disability colleges concentrates on providing support for those who have emotional, intellectual, or specific learning disabilities. These types are the most common ones, according to the statistics. In the world, about 10% of the population has dyslexia, and at least 6-10% of children have ADHD. Hence, helping so many people to study, read, communicate, and acquire a fulfilled life is a crucial task for the well-being of the whole society.

Here are some educational institutions that do a great job with the task.

Texas A&M

As a part of Texas A&M University, the Division of Student Affairs works with the resources, accommodations, and support services for students with disabilities, chronic health issues, and temporary conditions. The best thing about this university is that over the years, it developed a very branched system of accommodations adapted for each specific health issue. For instance, here is a typical list of available accommodations for those with temporary conditions:

  • Scribe for exams
  • Note-taking assistance
  • Audio recorder for lectures
  • Extended testing time
  • A computer for essay exams

However, if you have ADHD, for example, you may use more specific services, like a reduced distraction environment for testing and extended time. For those with severe mental health issues, the university can arrange personal feedback, a separate quiet room, frequent breaks, and alternate formats of testing.

Cornell University

Apart from being on the list of Ivy League colleges, Cornell University can be considered one of the best special education schools in the United States. Its accommodation services are divided into a few major categories:

  • Academic accommodations
  • Accessible media and technology
  • Housing and dining services
  • Transportation
  • Emotional support animals

Each category has a few more options, supplying the student with a broad range of supportive services. For instance, under the category of academic accommodations, students can request courses, exams, deadlines, attendance, and course load modifications. The category also includes support for hearing impairments, e-text, and braille script.

Best States for Disabled Adults to Apply to College

According to the World Population Review, the absolute best state for disabled adults to live and study in is Massachusetts. It has the highest rates of health insurance for disabled people across the whole country (98.3%). The other three best states for disability-friendly living are Pennsylvania, Vermont, and North Dakota:

Best States for Disabled Adults

Source – World Population Review

Hopefully, this article will help you find the best college or institution that will meet all your needs!

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Lauren Bradshaw
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Lauren started writing in 2003. Since then, she tried her hand in SEO and website copywriting, composing for blogs, and working as an academic writer. Her main interests lie in content marketing, developing communication skills, and blogging.