College isn’t easy for the average able-bodied and able-minded student. But try telling that to one of the many college students in the U.S. who have disabilities. While typical college students struggle to adjust to the new freedom presented during college, students with disabilities have a more difficult time overcoming the everyday obstacles presented in the new environment.
In recent decades, measures have been taken to reduce the challenges endured by these students. The Rehabilitation Act – passed in 1973 – “prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by Federal agencies, in programs receiving Federal financial assistance, in Federal employment, and in the employment practices of Federal contractors,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice. More specifically, section 504 of the act requires schools and colleges to make accommodations for students with disabilities. Almost twenty years later, further progress was made with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which protects the civil rights of people with disabilities. It ensures campus facilities are easily accessible for disabled students, academic adjustments are made, and their privacy is respected. As a result, they can study in environments with minimal obstacles.
It takes initiative from students to get the most out of the services offered by their schools. If you have a disability, alert a counselor in your college’s disabilities office. He or she will determine whether or not the request is reasonable, and if it is, how it should be accommodated. Be sure to provide official up-to-date documentation to show proof of the disability, even if seems ridiculous depending on the severity of your problem. If successful, they’ll go out of their way to ensure that typical policies and procedures are adjusted to fit your needs. For example, signers may be provided during lectures if you’re deaf. If you’re unable to take notes, official note-takers may do it for you. Special computer programs can take the place of the usual assignments. It’s important that you begin to research the available accommodations before you enter your first semester. That way, the transition from high school will be as smooth as possible.