2020 Best Colleges & Universities for People with Disabilities
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If you are an avid reader of The Edvocate and The Tech Edvocate, then you know that I spent several years as an elementary school special education teacher, and as a professor of education. Nothing gave me more pleasure as a teacher than seeing my students blossom academically, and eventually make it to college.
Unfortunately, when it comes to students with disabilities, their success is at the mercy of the university that they choose to attend. Some institutions of higher education do a fantastic job working with students with disabilities, and others do a terrible job. In this piece, I want to highlight the colleges and universities that have multiple programs, policies, and measures in place to help people with disabilities succeed in higher education. Without further ado, here are 2020’s best colleges and universities for people with disabilities.
- Eastern Michigan University – One of the most expensive programs on the list, the College Supports Program offers one-on-one advising in all aspects of life, including hygiene and nutrition. Annual tuition for Eastern Michigan University is under 10k, so don’t count this college out even if the price sounds high.
- Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan – The COMPASS Program is designed for high-functioning students and only accepts six students per year. The program is structured, providing weekly therapy, counseling, and academic support both individually and in groups.
- Lynn University – Lynn University’s Institute for Achievement and Learning offers a variety of support services, including a Diagnostic Center for Education Assessment. Students can receive academic coaching, assistive technology, and tutoring. Lynn is also home to the Harold and Mary perper Testing Center, which provides alternative testing environments that include reader, scribe, and computer access for assistance recording answers.
- Framingham State University – The Diverse Scholars Program at Framingham State University gives students intellectual disabilities the opportunity to engage in F.S.U. courses, internships, and student life.
- American International College– The Supportive Learning Services program at American International College provides professional tutoring services to students, as well as assistance with study skills, organization, and time management. Students can also take advantage of the Center for Accessibility Services and Academic Accommodations (C.A.S.A.A.), which provides both academic and physical accommodations.
- Adelphi University – At Adelphi University, there are several programs for students with disabilities, including a Learning Resource Program for students with A.D.H.D., a Social Training Center for students with high-functioning autism (H.F.A.) or Asperger’s syndrome, and Residential Life and Housing Accommodations, as well as Assistive Technology, for those with disabilities. The Bridges to Adelphi program, which is fee-based and addresses a variety of issues, addresses executive functioning and problem-solving skills. Adelphi is also home to the Autism Task Force.
- Gallaudet University – Gallaudet University began as a school for deaf children and has led advances in the education of deaf and hard-of-hearing students for over 150 years. Today, Gallaudet offers the world’s only Interpretation B.A., MA, and Ph.D. program in A.S.L. and is the largest publisher of books about and for the deaf community.
- Kent State University – Kent State University offers three different programs for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder: an Autism Advocates Program, College Success for Students with Asperger’s or Autism, and Partnering for Achievement & Learning Success (PALS). Students are connected with a Learning Specialist they meet weekly, along with any other necessary accommodations.
- Dean University– The Arch Learning Community at Dean College provides individual academic coaching, Arch-designated courses, and specialized success and career advising to students with diagnosed learning disabilities and other learning differences. There are also free services available to all students, such as peer tutoring, health services, and assistive devices.
- Landmark College – Landmark College caters entirely to students who learn differently. Students receive individualized attention from instructors with classrooms offering a low 6:1 student-teacher ratio. Students are also provided with frequent visits with experienced advisors, executive function coaching, and education technology support. Landmark offers a Bridge Program as well as several summer programs and is home to the Landmark College Institute for Research and Training.
- University of Arizona – The University of Arizona is home to a popular program called the Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques Center, otherwise known as SALT. Students are paired with a strategic learning specialist, have access to tutoring and any necessary psychological services.
- Centenary University – Centenary University provides two programs: Project ABLE and STEP Ahead. Project ABLE is designed to bridge students with psychology, learning, or neurological differences from high school to college, while STEP Ahead is for students with a background indicating a need for essential skills remediation, developmental education, or specialized support.
- Curry College – The Program for Advancement of Learning at Curry College is well-developed to handle students with A.D.H.D., learning differences, or executive function issues. On top of providing assistive technology and summer programs, P.A.L. has a Multilingual Students program to serve international students.
- Defiance College – Defiance College is home to the A.S.D. Affinity program, which focuses on three specific areas: academic success, social/personal growth, and residential support. Students have dedicated apartment-style housing with Resident Assistants for support. The college tailors services to each student’s individual needs and conducts evaluations every Spring.
- University of Connecticut – The Strategic Education for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (S.E.A.D.) at the University of Connecticut is designed to help students by easing the transition through staff connections, as well as with social abilities and skills that can be used on the job market.
- Lesley University – For 35 years, the Threshold Program at Lesley University has offered a non-degree post-secondary program for young adults with diverse learning, developmental, and intellectual abilities. They also provide a certificate program and bridge programs into the working world. Students live on campus, participate in campus activities, and go through a curriculum focused on career training and independent living.
- Augsburg College – The Center for Learning and Accessible Student Services (CLASS) at Augsburg features disability specialists that help determine the needs of each student. They provide alternative testing, alternative format textbooks, assistive technology, housing accommodations, and more to students with A.D.H.D., learning disabilities, psychiatric disabilities, blind/low vision, autism spectrum disorder, chronic illnesses, and more.
- Baylor University – Baylor University’s Office of Access and Learning Accommodation (O.A.L.A.) process all disability requests and works with faculty and staff on accommodations. They provide a Baylor Disability Shuttle and works with Baylor Center for Developmental Disabilities, which offers programs for students with an autism spectrum disorder.
- Marymount Manhattan College – The Academic Access Program at Marymount Manhattan College includes basic accommodations, such as extended testing times and notetakers, along with 2 hours a week with a learning specialist, an academic coach for executive functioning skill building, personalized academic counseling, priority registration, and monthly parent meetings.
- Mercyhurst University – The Autism Initiative at Mercyhurst University provides early registration for classes, special housing options, and on-site social groups for students on the autism spectrum. The focus is on independent.
- University of Montana – The Mentoring, Organization, and Social Support for Autism Inclusion on Campus, or M.O.S.S.A.I.C. program, at the University of Montana, operates using five core tenets. Students with language and speech skills will benefit from speech-language theory, which is bolstered by support from trained professionals as well as classmates.
- Rutgers University – The Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center at Rutgers University offers a wide variety of accommodations, including single rooms with no roommates and upper-level students studying psychology as peer mentors.
- DePaul University – The Center for Students with Disabilities, handles all accommodations for students, which include things such as adaptive equipment, assistive technology, course selection consultation, priority registration, sign language interpreting, faculty consultations, and more. For more intensive assistance, Learning Specialist Clinician Services are available at a fee through the C.S.D. office. They are designed to assist with executive functioning skills and self-advocacy strategies.
- Manhattanville College – The Higher Education Learning Program (HELP) is a tutoring program specific to students with learning disabilities. For students with autism spectrum disorder and related diagnoses, Manhattanville provides the Pathways and Connections (P.A.C.) Program that includes career development, individual coaching, and peer mentoring.
- Ursuline College – Ursuline College provides FOCUS: for Students with Learning Disabilities and A.D.H.D. The program has the goal of providing a smooth transition from high school into college through one-on-one coaching with disability specialists and teaching self-advocacy skills.
- Bellevue College – Bellevue College’s Disability Resource Center offers accessible media and course materials, advocacy services, alternative testing, assistive technology, A.S.L. interpreters, volunteer notetakers, and more. In particular, the D.R.C. pairs with the Center for Career Connections and R.I.S.E. Learning Institute to provide the Neurodiversity Navigators for students with an autism spectrum disorder to provide executive functioning assistance, self-advocacy, and multiple support services.
- Marist College – Marist College has accepted and accommodated students with learning disabilities since it was founded. Officially creating a program in 1980, Marist’s Learning Support Program promotes independence and advocating for needs. With an enrollment rate of 10% of total students with disabilities and an 80% graduation rate of students with disabilities, the forty years have given Marist experience hard to find elsewhere.