Disabled students about to begin college at an American institution can expect schools to make several accommodations that enable them to have the same opportunities as their classmates.
If you are disabled in any way, you should learn the changes your college should be willing to make in order to give you the learning environment you need.
Colleges Should Provide Helpful Equipment
Many of the American schools considered beneficial for disabled college students offer various tools that help them learn. For instance, according to the U.S. Department of Education, some schools offer recording devices during class. Similarly, colleges may ask volunteers to take notes for disabled college students in case their disabilities prevent them from doing so on their own.
Schools that accommodate disabled college students also frequently offer alternative formats for printed materials. For example, Arizona State University provides disabled students with Braille or large print books, though they also offer electronic text, audio text and tactile graphics.
Some US colleges use adaptive technology equipment to help disabled students easily keep up with coursework. Stanford University features a lab in the library with various types of technology for disabled students to use. The college’s equipment includes touch pads, speech recognition software, and programs that make it easier for students to read the computer screen.
Typical Procedures Should Be Adjusted for Disabled Students
Some disabled college students have no problem getting around campus, but have some trouble in class. Whether students are blind, hard-of-hearing, or dealing with a learning disability, many colleges try to adjust typical procedures to accommodate them.
Rice University offers students extra time on their tests, as long as proper documentation of the disability is given to the professor. In fact, disabled college students can hand in an outline that lets professors know what kind of accommodations are expected.
Other common adaptations for students with disabilities include priority registration for classes, and reducing the number of courses taken in a semester to keep students from becoming overwhelmed. Some US colleges also let students take a different course in place of one that they cannot complete due to their disability.
In addition, students who are hard-of-hearing are typically entitled to interpreting services.
Colleges Make Changes on Campus
Many schools offer ramps that make it easier for students in wheelchairs to get around campus. They also provide a handful of handicapped parking spaces near buildings and issue permits to disabled college students so they can always park near classrooms.
However, American schools typically need to do more than this to make disabled college students feel comfortable on campus. For example, some colleges with on-campus housing feature handicap-accessible rooms in the dormitories. These are often on the first floor and feature wider doors, as well as bathrooms that have extra space and plenty of safety handrails.
Ask for the Accommodations You Need
Schools are required to accommodate disabled college students within reason, meaning that they do not have to make changes that would be extremely expensive or put an undue burden on the school. This is why you are encouraged to research the schools that are known for being most accessible to disabled college students, since you cannot expect every school to be equal in this regard.
Some US schools do the bare minimum to accommodate disabled college students. Others go the extra mile, even offering sports involving wheelchairs, as is the case at Arizona State University. Fortunately, most schools feature sections on their website that discuss their policies regarding disabled college students, so it should be easy to find out what you can expect before you even apply.