What Challenges Do Persons with Disabilities Face When Pursuing a College Education?
While colleges and universities have come a
long way in providing more opportunities for disabled students and making their
facilities more accessible, undoubtedly, many challenges remain. People with
disabilities have a rougher time of it. The dropout rate of students with
disabilities is higher than the average.
According to data from the US
Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 27.7% of adults with disabilities
had gotten a bachelor's degree compared to 73.2% of those with no disability.
In no small part, this can be attributed to the kinds of challenges people with
disabilities face both when applying for college and pursuing their studies
Personal attitudes towards disability
Prospective college students with disabilities
and parents sometimes question whether they ought to disclose a disability
during the admission process, thinking that it might lower their chances of
acceptance. In fact, however, it’s always a good idea to share this information
in one’s application or essay. Writing services like https://essayshark.com
can even provide assistance with college essays in order to help present one’s
ideas. Sharing information about a learning disability for example can explain
to an admission officer why a student has a high GPA, yet low test scores.
Negative experiences and psychological barriers
Many students with disabilities experience stress and
feelings of isolation due to their disabilities. They may feel that they cannot
fit in or that they’ll have problems making friends. This might come from
having had negative experiences in their schools in the past and fearing their
recurrence in the future. Whether it be limited opportunities for personal
development, financial constraints, or social exclusion — there are many sorts
of barriers that can significantly influence one’s ability or willingness to
seriously pursue further education.
Insufficient physical accessibility
Unfortunately, students with physical disabilities still
face challenges when commuting to campuses. They face various difficulties when it comes to physically
getting to their test sites and lessons due to the absence of elevators and
ramps, overly heavy doors, washrooms without access for disabled people, and
poor transportation options if any between their educational institutions and
Limited educational options
Making a decision about college or a future career isn’t a
decision that can be made on a whim, particularly for a person with a
disability. People with disabilities must carefully plan their transition from
high school to college. While all people should have access to education,
people with disabilities may face extra difficulties in obtaining a desired
degree due to the specifics of their disabilities or the campus services that
are provided (or not provided) for them.
Some colleges like Boston University, University of
Denver, and others offer separate programs for people with disabilities,
although, in some cases, there may be additional fees involved. Also, some
disabilities require a coach or tutor to help the student with their material,
and such services may also be expensive.
Lack of financial support
Paying for healthcare and higher education in the US is
challenging for many disabled students. A disabled person may need personal
care aid, pharmaceutical support, a motorized wheelchair, and other additional
things that cost a lot of money. Students must often rely on scholarships and
other financial aid programs to make their higher education more accessible,
but the competition is high and funds are limited.
Also, students frequently face delays in special education
funding, long waiting lists for additional support, and there are delays across
the country in the implementation of accessibility services and programs. The
accessibility of the facilities and programs of an institute of higher learning
play a crucial role.
Differences in disabled student services
As disabilities vary from one person to another it can be
difficult for institutions of higher learning to take into account their
diversity. Hence, some students might be unable to access education facilities. Educational plans and services may not meet
individual circumstances or provide the necessary support for a student with a
particular disability. Students may need flexibility in exam sessions, extended
deadlines for written assignments, extra time during tests, and other
assistance. Some students with disabilities may need more time to understand
the educational materials, especially when the college can’t provide an
accessible format like Braille, digital variants accessible for screen readers,
or audio versions of the material.
Many colleges and universities provide disability offices
where students can get information about whether the institutions provide the
support they need. All of this takes time, especially when you plan to apply to
several institutions at once. Students must clarify much of this information
before even starting their applications. The normal challenge of pursuing
higher education becomes even more difficult.
Attitudes and awareness about the needs of disabled
Colleges may lack support staff for disabled students who
can understand their needs. According to recent research,
teaching staff have more positive attitudes toward students with physical
disabilities than students with emotional disorders or learning disabilities.
Not viewing emotional disorders and learning disabilities as true disabilities
lends itself to problems as barriers to education that are not seen as barriers
are not always willingly removed.
From the broader view, sometimes college communities and
teaching staff lack awareness about people with disabilities. Some students who
need additional support and care who don’t show obvious physical disabilities
are not given the help and support they really need. Teachers may be impatient
with students with disabilities. Moreover, some students who have disabilities
are members of socially disadvantaged groups and, therefore, experience even
more discrimination and negative attitudes.
In many cases, students with disabilities don’t know their
rights and don’t stand up for themselves. Students are sometimes shy to ask for
the things that would help them, such as note-taker support, audio recording
during lectures, or laptop use during classroom work.
Lack of adequate staff training
College staff should be ready
to develop policies and organize processes that speed up the accessibility and
accommodation for students with disabilities. A lack of staff training can lead
to insufficient support for students with disabilities during the application
process and through the educational year.
The aim of such training lies in developing empathy and
understanding of students with various disabilities and acquiring progressive
strategies to help them adapt to the educational process. In fact, every
college should have a student agency or a team of counselors who advocate the
needs of students with disabilities and help foster the implementation of
Students with disabilities still face a lot of financial,
physical, technological, attitudinal, and social troubles along their way to
pursuing higher education. Inclusion is something that modern society should
focus on, and colleges, in particular, should implement effective solutions and
support for students with disabilities. Close collaboration with students with
disabilities will ensure that their needs are met, and sharing their
experiences with other students will help foster positive attitudes.
disABLEDperson, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to reduce the high unemployment rate of individuals with disabilities.