A Unique Path to Independence for Disabled Students

Sep 27, 2011

Many physically, mentally or emotionally challenged students yearn for independence. The Education Insider takes a look at some of the unique paths designed to get disabled students to that point.

View popular schools

By Erin Tigro

Disabled Students and Education

Under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, throughout elementary, middle and high school, special education students and others with documented disabilities are able to receive individualized education plans (IEP). This is a way to ensure that students who may not be able to participate in a standard curriculum have the chance to obtain a developmentally tailored learning track. IEPs, which are typically set up jointly by school counselors, specialty therapists, educators and parents, are continually monitored and updated throughout a child's K-12 education.

What happens after high school, though? Depending on a combination of personal drive and severity of disability, a disabled high school graduate may decide to continue on his or her educational path. Some may choose to develop their independence by participating in special transitional programs. These initiatives are designed to help disabled individuals adjust to college life, prepare them for the workforce or help them with basic adult and life skills. Others may opt to pursue a traditional college degree. Though no IEPs are available at the university level, disabled students are offered special protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Agriculture
  • Architecture
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • Business
  • Communications and Journalism
  • Computer Sciences
  • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Legal
  • Liberal Arts and Humanities
  • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
  • Medical and Health Professions
  • Physical Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Transportation and Distribution
  • Visual and Performing Arts

Young Adults with Disabilities are Gaining Independence Through Specialty Programs

Transition Program Focused on Developing Life Skills

In Washington, a collaboration between a local community college and public school district has paved the way for disabled students to integrate into the college scene. Participants of Shoreline Public School District and Shoreline Community College's Community Based Transition Program are able to socialize, develop their communication skills and gain practical work experience through internships. They're also able to explore cooking techniques, acquire the basics of computer navigation, become familiar with using public transportation and learn personal accounting methods.

Transitional or College Readiness Program Options

A similar opportunity is offered through the College Internship Program, which is run by cooperating partners in California, Massachusetts, Florida, New York and Indiana. This program is geared toward students who may have dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, high functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome. Participants learn to complete everyday tasks and also gain the knowledge needed to fight for their rights. College Internship Programs incorporate on-campus living and internships. In addition, students have the option of enrolling in career skills development classes or courses designed to ready them for conventional higher education.

College Accommodations for Disabled Attendees

Disabled college-ready individuals who are interested in gaining some independence and earning a traditional degree can look to the Beckwith Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This program has been around since the '80s and is able to cater to students with severe physical disabilities. Participants' ailments include neurological, muscular and bone disorders. In 2010, the university announced the grand opening of Nugent Hall, a state-of-the-art dormitory specifically designed to accommodate students with disabilities. Extra wide hallways and extremely roomy elevators allow those in wheelchairs to navigate the building with ease. There are also specialty dorm rooms that feature motorized lifts, contemporary medical beds and adjustable furniture. Other bonuses include automatic doors, voice-activated computer stations and exercise machines that can be used by those in assistive devices. Personal student aids are also on-call to help when needed.

Continue reading for information about how to cope with learning disabilities.

Next: View Schools

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma or GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • BA: Criminal Justice
    • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
    • BA: Liberal Studies
    • BA: Psychology
    • BA: Psychology - General
    • BS: Computer Science
    • AA: Criminal Justice
    • AA: Liberal Arts
    • AA: Business Administration
    • AA: Information Technology
    • AA: Cybersecurity

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • Doctor of Business Administration - Management
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
    • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Special Education
    • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Cognition and Instruction
    • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Industrial and Organizational Psychology
    • M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Gerontology
    • M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Human Factors
    • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
    • MS in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
    • MS in Psychology: General Psychology
    • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
    • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
    • BS in Psychology
    • B.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance and Sports Psychology
    • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
    • BS in Early Childhood
    • BS in Elementary Education / Special Education (Dual Major)

    What is your highest level of education?

    • Doctor of Education - Character Education
    • Doctor of Education - Curriculum & Instruction
    • Doctor of Education - Higher Education
    • Ph.D. in Communication
    • Ph.D. in Education - Character Education
    • Ph.D. in Education - Curriculum & Instruction
    • Master of Arts in Communication
    • Master of Arts in Communication - Political Communication
    • Master of Arts in Communication - Strategic Communication
    • Master of Arts in Government - Political Communication
    • Master of Arts in Journalism
    • Master of Arts in Law - Business
    • Bachelor of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
    • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies
    • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Journalism
    • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Rhetoric and Public Culture
    • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Strategic Communication
    • Bachelor of Arts in English - Communication
    • M.Ed. - Individualized Degree Program - Autism Certificate
    • M.Ed. in K-12 Special Education - Autism Certificate

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Master of Science in Nursing - Doctor of Nursing Practice Path, Executive Leader Specialization
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice
    • Master of Science in Nursing - Doctor of Nursing Practice Path
    • MS in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
    • Master of Science in Legal Studies
    • MS in Psychology
    • MBA
    • Master of Public Health
    • MBA - Human Resources
    • BS in Liberal Studies
    • BS in Business Administration
    • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Investment Career Focus Area
    • BS in Liberal Studies Leadership
    • BS in Nutrition Science
    • BSFIN in Accelerated MS Finance
    • AAS in Business Administration - Business
    • AAS in Legal Support and Services
    • AAS in Business Administration
    • AAS in Business Administration - Food & Hotel Management
    • AAS in Business Admin-Office Management
    • AAS in Criminal Justice
    • Medical Office Administration Certificate
    • Human Services Certificates in Child and Family Services
    • Graduate Certificate in Addictions
    • Graduate Certificate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
    • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate
    • Pathway to Paralegal Postbaccalaureate Certificate

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Collision Repair and Refinish Technology
    • Marine Technician Specialist
    • Diesel Technology
    • Motorcycle Technician Specialist
    • Automotive Technology
    • NASCAR Technology

    What is your education level?

    • Criminal Justice, M.S.
    • Business Administration, MBA
    • Business Administration, MBA - Emphasis in Advanced Accounting
    • Business Administration, MBA - Emphasis in Health Care Administration
    • Business Administration, MBA - Emphasis in Leadership
    • Business Administration, MBA - Emphasis in Project Management
    • Communication Studies, B.A.
    • Criminal Justice, B.S.
    • Psychology, B.S.
    • Psychology, B.S. - Emphasis in Biblical Studies
    • Accounting, B.S.
    • Business Administration, B.S.
    • Criminal Justice, A.S.
    • Psychology, A.S.
    • Communication Studies, A.A.
    • General Studies, A.A.
    • Business Administration, A.S.
    • Health Care Administration, A.S.

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • MA in Communication
    • Master of Liberal Arts
    • MA in Science Writing
    • MS in Applied Economics
    • MS in Geographic Information Systems
    • MS in Bioinformatics

    What is your highest level of education?

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?