College Hunting with a Disability: What To Know Before You Go

Picking or attending a college or a university can be a complicated process for any high school senior – but even more so if you are a person with a disability. I went through this personally, as have many of our peer mentors. Here are 6 things we learned and think you should do before classes ever start.

Talk to disability services.
They can help you with getting accommodations in your classes.  The majority of professors are happy to make the necessary accommodations, but you need a note from disability services in order for them to provide accommodations.  Depending on your needs and IEP, some of the accommodations you can receive include copies of notes, an accessible desk, and recorded books and tests. Also, usually disability services will allow you to have priority registration.  This will allow you to make sure you schedule your classes with enough time in between them so you don’t have trouble being on time to class.

Go to the campus before you commit to the school.
Try and get a tour so you can see the layout of the buildings and if they are accessible.  Knowing your way around campus is huge!  Take “dry runs” to identify how much time it would take to get from point A to point B, and be sure to add a little extra time to navigate through crowds. Also, going early will allow you to see if there are any accessibility issues.  It is important to notice where the elevators are, as well as ramps, the width of doorways, and the terrain that you will experience while getting around.  You also want to make sure the bathrooms in the buildings you’ll utilize are accessible.

Find out your contacts ahead of time. 
This includes contacts for the building/dorm you might live in, and each building that you have classes, parking, security, maintenance, etc.  Make sure these contact names, phone numbers and emails are in your cell, tablet, or laptop.  You want to have this information easily accessible. Communicate with everyone at the college so everyone knows exactly what your needs are.

If you are living  in a dorm,  check in with the housing department to let them know what accommodations and/or adaptations you need. 
You want to be aware of your living situation before you arrive, so make sure you have an opportunity to take a tour of a sample dorm room.  Depending on your situation, you may want to consider living on the first floor.  If you are not fully independent, some schools provide Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) to help you with your activities of daily living, such as getting out of bed, getting dressed and cleaning.

Finally, prior to making you decision, be conscious of the environment.
The weather you may face may bring you unexpected challenges.  Think about how the heat, snow, or rain may affect you.  Also, take into consideration the geographical layout of the campus.  Hills, mountains, grass, mud, and the distances between buildings on the campus may affect your experience.

Did you face any other issues when choosing a college? What would you recommend? Let us know and we’ll share with our followers!

Share This Article!