By Elise Giacobbe
The college application process is stressful, frustrating and time-consuming for everyone. When you need to dig deeper into your research aside from major, location and the price of higher education, that is when things can get challenging. Research for families of people with disabilities and special needs doubles, if not triples. When selecting a school, you must carefully consider some major aspects of college life, such as housing, technology, class enrollment, and transportation to name a few. You must identify what specific accommodations you require, based on your individual needs, and compare those with what the schools have to offer. With disability awareness and technology growing, many colleges and universities offer extended resources. Here are some tips and pointers to ease your mind and lead you in the right direction.
When first jumping into this process a lot can be overwhelming so here is a quick list of the starting steps:
- Profile colleges
- Check student services for resources
- Check for housing accommodations
- See what online courses are available
- Schedule a visit
Most colleges have departments or dedicated staff that are specifically tasked with ensuring their campuses are accessible. We encourage you to call these offices and share your individual needs, asking about what accommodations are available. Once you dig into these areas, then you can narrow down your search and focus on a few schools that fit your loved one’s academic goals, rather than worrying about accessibility.
Schools to Consider
On the east coast alone, there are many campuses that offer comprehensive or specialized programs. We’re proud to report that New Jersey is a great place to look for schools as it has over ten colleges or universities with disability services, offices and other resources. Some include:
- Monmouth University / 732-571-3460
- Farleigh Dickinson University / 973-443-8079
- Rutgers University / 848-445-6800
- Ramapo College / 201-684-7514
- Seton Hall University / 973-313-6003
And if you’re a New Jersey resident, you don’t have to look too far out of our state to find some of the top 20 schools in the nation with resources for people with disabilities:
- Drexel University / 215-895-1401
- Marshall University / 304-696-2271
- Hofstra University / 516-463-7075
- University of Connecticut / 860-486-2020
- Marist College / 845-575-3274
All of these accredited schools provide mobile applications, websites, and software for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, the visually impaired, people with physical disabilities, autism, learning disabilities, dyslexia, and ADHD.
Along with campus resources, students with disabilities or special needs are legally protected through state, federal, and local laws. These laws prohibit discrimination and require equal levels of access to academic services, environments, and resources. Some of these legal rights include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
So remember, college access is an opportunity everyone should be able to enjoy no matter what your ability level.