Research has shown that in the US almost 20% of undergraduate students have a disability. As an increasing number of students with a range of disabilities are entering higher education around the world, more universities are meeting their needs by becoming more physically accessible.
While most studying can be conducted online, access in-person to reference libraries and other academic institutions is often necessary to carry out effective research for academic essays.
As well as choosing a university with a more accessible campus, by making good use of all the available academic, pastoral and financial support, students with a range of disabilities can achieve their academic goals and enjoy a fulfilling experience at college.
Cerebral palsy is the most common childhood disability and altogether affects approximately 17 million people around the world. There are a few cerebral palsy types – all of which can vary in severity. While functional skills like intelligence are unaffected in most cases, cerebral palsy may result in physical difficulties with balance and motor skills, or impairments to speech, language, and hearing.
For a university student, these will have an impact on getting around campus and participating in classes. However, planning ahead and requesting auxiliary aids and in-class support staff can facilitate full access to every aspect of university life. This could mean simply leaving more time to travel across campus between classes, or making use of an interpreter or notetaker to help with any academic challenges in tutorials and lectures.
As well as ensuring universities are accessible to students with mobility issues or learning difficulties, The Individuals with Disabilities Act also promotes funding for students with disabilities. Starting a new life at university can be challenging and a lack of funding can be an additional obstacle for any student.
However, as well as standard student loans, most disabled students are able to take advantage of other alternative sources of funding such as college scholarships or bursaries funded by private organizations and disability charities. These can be used to cover the extra costs of specialist equipment, carers, and adapted accommodation, all of which enable students with disabilities to benefit fully from their time at university.
With an increasing number of students with disabilities entering higher education, universities and colleges are responding by providing greater access and support for all aspects of university life.