Making the transition from high school to college can be a challenge for any student. But for students with physical disabilities who are used to having assistance the transition can be especially difficult. With that, a disability need not stop students from pursuing a higher education. There are external and internal obstacles that students deal with that able-bodied students do not, so it’s extremely important to choose a college or university that has proper facilities and accommodations.
Getting feedback from other students, checking out the campus 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 student with a disability.
Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, all colleges are required to provide accommodations to college students. However, 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 children with disabilities, colleges don’t have to do anything unless a student asks for help and can provide proof of need.
Things to Consider
Thinking ahead is key for any perspective college student, considering that it can be a place filled with obstacles. Some things to consider before choosing a school include:
- Talking to other students with disabilities on the campus to get a real perspective about campus life.
- Generally, the bigger the school the more services they have available.
- When looking at prospective schools, discuss with the admissions office to determine what services and systems are in place to help a student with disabilities.
- Visit buildings on campus where support services are provided and where you might be living or attending classes to make sure the school meets accessible needs.
- For large schools, consider mobility vehicles such as a wheelchair accessible van, car or truck. Most campuses have handicap parking close to academic buildings, which can make commuting to class easier.
- Most importantly – BE PROACTIVE.
The key is to ensure that a mobility challenge doesn’t get in the way of enjoying the full college experience.
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 a handicap accessible car, truck or van, please consider one of our Quality Assurance Program mobility equipment dealers.