Making the transition from high school to college is difficult for any student. But for students with physical disabilities who are used to having help and assistance the transition can be especially difficult. There are external and internal obstacles that disabled students deal with that able-bodied students do not, so it’s extremely important for students with disabilities to choose a college or university that has proper facilities and accommodations. Getting feedback from other disabled students, checking out the campus disability service office, touring school grounds, and having a handicap accessible vehicle are some of the most effective ways to assure that the college experience will be rewarding for a disabled student.

The ADA has opened many opportunities for students with disabilities. Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, all colleges are required to provide accommodations to college students. But they can decline to do anything they consider unreasonable. Unlike grade schools and high schools, which are required by law to identify, evaluate and help students with disabilities, colleges don’t have to do anything unless a student asks for help and can provide proof of a learning disability.

Without a well thought out plan, the path to college can be a place of obstacles, hurdles and misinformation for students with disabilities. Some things to consider before choosing a school include:

•    Talking to other students with disabilities on the campus
•    Generally, the bigger the school the more services they have available.
•    When looking at prospective schools, discuss with the disabilities services office on campus to determine what services and systems are in place to help a disabled student.
•    Visit the buildings on campus where support services are provided and where a disabled student might be living or attending classes to make sure the campus can meet disabled needs.
•    For large campuses, consider a mobility vehicle such as a wheelchair accessible van, car or truck. Most campuses have handicap parking close to academic buildings, which can make commuting to class much quicker and easier.

The key is to ensure that a student’s disability doesn’t get in the way of enjoying the full college experience. For more resources on this issue, visit:

http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/transition.html

www.disabilityfriendlycolleges.com

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying handicap accessible van, truck or car, please consider one of our mobility equipment dealers.

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