Take a look at the photo. Can you tell who’s disabled? My guess is that many of you picked the wheelchair-bound student. And you would be right; her disability is clear to see. However, some disabilities are “hidden” and not obvious when you meet the disabled student in class. I have a hidden disability—chronic migraines. It impacted my ability to attend classes, take notes and tests and I required accommodations in order to complete my degree and maintain a high GPA for the possibility of attending Grad School. Knowing my rights permitted me to gain the resources and support I needed.
A student’s disability can be physical, mental, or learning. There are numerous laws to protect students and provide accommodations in higher-education settings. These laws govern the number of credit hours required to be considered full-time students, financial aid to cover disability related costs, accessibility to campus facilities, and academic and internship accommodations. We strongly advise students with a disability to know their rights before attending college. The following resources are highly recommended:
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- The Higher Education Act of 1965
- Rights of Students with Disabilities in Higher Education: A Guide for College and University Students from the California Protection & Advocacy System
- US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights Protecting Students with Disabilities and Disability Discrimination
- US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division ADA Technical Assistance Publications and Americans with Disabilities Regulations
Because of my disability, I qualified to become a TRIO student. The TRIO Programs are federal outreach and student services programs administered, funded, and implemented by the United States Department of Education. TRIO includes eight programs targeted to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities. TRIO provides opportunities for academic development, assists students with basic college requirements, and motivates students toward the successful completion of their postsecondary education. Nearly every college and university has a TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) Program so be sure to ask your school (or potential schools you may be considering) about their TRIO Program.
According to the US DOE website: All TRIO SSS programs “must provide: academic tutoring, which may include instruction in reading, writing, study skills, mathematics, science, and other subjects; advice and assistance in postsecondary course selection, assist student with information on both the full range of student financial aid programs, benefits and resources for locating public and private scholarships; and assistance in completing financial aid applications. Education or counseling services designed to improve the financial and economic literacy and assist students in applying for admission to graduate and professional programs; and assist students enrolled in two-year institutions and applying for admission to, and obtaining financial assistance for enrollment in four-year programs….may also provide individualized counseling for personal, career, and academic information, activities, and instruction designed to acquaint students with career options; exposure to cultural events and academic programs not usually available; mentoring programs, securing temporary housing during breaks for students who are homeless youths and students who are in foster care or are aging out of the foster care system.”
Do you have a disability? What resources did you find helpful or needed but lacking? What was your on-campus experience?