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ED Smart Offers Guide for College Students with Disabilities

Posted in Education

Recently ED Smart chief editor, Tyson Stevens, reached out to NFBI president Dana Aard and requested that we make available a guide that they produced for college students with disabilities. The guide is titled, “Winning in College: A Guide for Students with Disibilities.”


We have provided a portion of this guide below with a link to the entire guide at the bottom of this post.


The transition from high school to college life is difficult enough for any number of students without considering a disability. Odds are that if you have a disability and you made it through high school, you’ve done it with the help of a very disciplined and structured routine order of classes. College life is a very different game, allowing students to make a lot of choices and decisions for themselves.

Students transitioning from the regimented order to this comparative chaos may find themselves lost. That’s not to say that it can’t be done–there have been many, many successful students that have overcome disabilities and found successful academic lives, and successful careers.

2015 Student College Enrollment

Unemployment Rates


In a recent study of students with disabilities, the National Center for Education Statistics revealed that of the 20.2 million students enrolling in colleges in 2015, ~2.42 million (11.1%) of these students have some kind of disability. These numbers indicate a growing trend in enrollment as more and more schools develop the necessary resources to support this group of students. While education does open many door for people to achieve more satisfying and higher paying careers, education should be understood in the context of employment. The unemployment rate of people with disabilities tends to double the rate of people without disabilities. In December 2015, the unemployment rate of people without disabilities was around 4.6% compared to a 10.3% rate of people with disabilities. It won’t improve your circumstance much to get your education and end up unemployed anyway. That being said, students with disabilities should also consider what kind of job they want when they graduate.


Finding the right university is a daunting task, but it can be done. Take your time with the process, and be sure to be thorough in your inspections of different school’s facilities and The biggest mistake that students with disabilities can make in choosing a college or university to go to is to not consult with the school about their disability. While this is a fully voluntary action, it’s highly recommended for students to disclose this information so that they can make a decision as to whether their needs will be met. By law, students are protected from discrimination based on their disabilities, so it’s in the student’s best interest to be open about their needs.

Transition into College

Transitioning into college life is a rite of passage—a sign of independence and growing up. For many young adults, this means leaving home and doing things for themselves. For some students with disabilities, this is interpreted as a time to stand on their own and ignore the help available from schools. However, this independence can have a significant negative impact on their academic performance. A study by the National Center for Learning Disabilities showed that 94% of students with learning disabilities received some sort of help or accommodation while in high school, compared to 17% who received accommodation in college. Of those that never received help in college, a further 44% of students surveyed indicated that they thought some assistance would have been helpful.

Many schools offer a traditional college experience complete with living on the dorms and going to classes, but in recent years distance learning has grown as a legitimate choice for students hoping for a university education. In fact, many top tier universities have some kind of distance learning or online program that makes it easier for students to attend class. Some schools even have hybrid classrooms, requiring only digital attendance while students watch their professor’s lecture online.

Regardless of your preference of school-type, there are some basic things you should know before starting your journey. This guide outlines some of the civil rights and liberties that students with disabilities are entitled to, and describes how universities approach students with disabilities. On top of that, we outline a few strategies for finding a school that is a good fit.




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