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Top 10 Disability-Friendly Colleges & Universities in the US

Due to a rapid development of socially oriented infrastructure in the last four decades, special needs are no more an invincible obstacle for getting a college degree, especially in the United States.

The Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 marked a starting point for global changes at higher education institutions.

Many colleges and universities have with special software, have employed well-trained instructors and professors, and created outstanding programs, tutorials, and courses. It helps to deliver knowledge in a unique way and ensure education effectiveness. Colleges with disability programs help fight discrimination in the workplace and offers equal opportunities to people with special needs.

What kind of special needs colleges can meet?

Special needs imply learning disabilities including, but not limited to:

  • Dyslexia
  •  Dyscalculia
  • Dysgraphia

Also, there are many college-enrollees with:

  • Language, auditory and visual processing disorders
  •  Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Motor disorders that require special accommodation, access or service animals.

 However, it doesn’t prevent these students from obtaining a degree thanks to specially developed education programs.

Creating special learning environment and supporting students with disabilities is a major trend today. However, the global project on creating equal opportunities is still in progress. A recent survey shows that although more than 4/5 of universities enroll students with disabilities, less than 1/4 state they assist students with special needs “to a major extent”.

Top colleges and universities for students with disabilities

Below you can find Top-10 American Colleges and Universities that are disability-friendly to a major extent. Here are they:

UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT

Located in Storrs, UConn’s Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) offers special programs and focused workshops along with providing access to regular programs, courses, and activities of the University. Accessibility is a top trend here: disability-friendly sidewalks, elevators, and ramps are created to fit special needs. The Center offers a vast number of subjects to choose from: such as networking, technologies for studying etc. A UCPREP summer camp is a wonderful opportunity to work on communication, studying, and organization skills. CSD provides academic advising for a fee, as well as personal assistance and CSDTech program for technology assistance. Job opportunities are provided the University of Connecticut as well.

MARIST COLLEGE

Located in New York, Marist College has created its Learning Disabilities Program to assist students in their academic activities: improving time-management, organizational, communication and note-taking skills. For an additional fee, the services of an LD specialist can be requested to get a clear idea of a college life and student routine. The University facilitates the accommodation process for undergrads with special needs. The percentage of special students, who successfully graduate, is about 80%; so, Marist College can be considered one of the best colleges for students with learning disabilities.

NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY

Located in Boston, Massachusetts, Northeastern University offers a Disability Resource Center (DRC) that provides a vast number of services to students with disabilities free of charge on weekdays. The Center coordinates volunteers for 0 note-taking and helping to use technological equipment of the campus. The University is famous for its high-quality education: 90% of the graduates find a job in the first 9 months after receiving a degree.

The Learning Disabilities Program at Northeastern University makes is a favorable place for students with special needs. However, it is selective and only 45 places are offered. LDP specialists help to improve academic performance and set correct goals at the meetings with special students every other week. The atmosphere, in general, is very tolerant and motivating, which makes Northeastern University one of the top colleges with disability programs.

UNIVERSITY OF IOWA

Disability services of the University of Iowa include the Realizing Educational and Career Hopes program widely known as REACH. It is designed to help students with special needs in their campus life and academic success. It promotes student independence to the maximum possible extent and a unique approach to every student with a disability. They can participate in internships and use the help of a personal volunteer of the same age. The University is equipped with all necessary technological appliances and has modified infrastructure to meet special needs.

MARSHALL UNIVERSITY

Marshall University is 4-year public school teaching 13 thousand students including students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders: the West Virginia Autism Training Center is located here. The Marshall University’s Higher Education for Learning Problems Center (H.E.L.P.) provides necessary support to students with special needs: time-management and social skills, academic accomplishments and offers special programs with tutoring, academic coaching and summer camp. Students with disabilities have an advisor and support from a team of experts in ADHD and psychology for an additional fee.

WEST VIRGINIA WESLEYAN COLLEGE

Located in Buckhannon, West Virginia, the University assists in getting a degree in Education, Nursing and Exercise Science as well as in many other fields. Disability services in college are diverse: students with disabilities can benefit from free or paid support programs. A free Foundational Program provides academic and accommodation support as well as access to assistive technology lab. A fee-based program Mentor Advantage assists in successful college enrollment and may include private tutoring.

MERCYHURST UNIVERSITY

Despite being established not so long ago; the AIM program of the Mercyhurst University has shown its effectiveness and stunning results in helping students with disabilities adapt to student life. It meets the needs of students with autism spectrum disorders and helps them successfully adapt to campus accommodation and academic routine. In addition, the University offers a two-level Learning Differences Program: the first level is free of charge and aids students in accommodation issues, using special technologies and provides volunteer support. The second level is fee-based, and it includes student’s participation in the Summer PASS Program to combine studying with additional skills development.

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY, CARBONDALE

Disability Support Services for students at Southern Illinois University include diverse services, for example, professional tutor assistance, recorded lectures, lab assistants, note-taking assistance, study tables etc. DSS provides a Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) and an ASL-fluent Case Coordinator for students with hearing problems. Students with vision impairment can benefit from route familiarization training and using special devices with GPS. Achieve Program is a fee-based program for students with learning disabilities, provided by Southern Illinois University. All that makes this place one of the most advanced colleges for students with learning disabilities.

DEPAUL UNIVERSITY

This private University located in Chicago, Illinois, has a Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) that provides most of the services free of charge for the University students.  It helps students with AD/HD, motor, and sensory impairments. Center specialists assist in accommodation process, help in taking notes, provide adaptive equipment and help select courses. The campus is friendly for people with disabilities: it has convenient sidewalks, elevators and other amenities for students with motor disorders. Besides, the DePaul University students can use the services of a sign language interpreters and benefit from priority registration for free. For students with learning disabilities, the college offers the Productive Learning Strategies Program under the guidance of an LD specialist.

Summary

As all the above-mentioned universities and colleges offer different programs and provide different combinations of services, they cannot be compared according to a single list of parameters. It may be helpful to get more information at the official website of a school and consider its pros and cons to get a better idea of its compatibility to student’s unique needs.

Pay attention that many of disability services for college students are available for free, while others are provided on a fee-basis. Usually, students with learning disabilities should account for extra expenses. Good news is they can apply for financial aid, scholarships and grants to cover these expenses, at least partially.

During the enrollment, keep in mind that some of the Universities require an additional application or additional documents for participating in a program for students with learning disabilities. Make sure you prepare them in advance.

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