Finding the Right College: Tips for Students with Disabilities

January 14, 2013 Category: College Tips

More and more campuses across the nation have taken the steps necessary to accommodate all types of disabilities, including learning conditions. But for students with disabilities to truly succeed during the college years, they need to feel confident that the school they get accepted to will truly operate in their best interest.

Sometimes it can be tough to find out whether or not a particular campus really has all the things in place needed to accommodate the needs of students with disabilities. When reviewing schools, the follow factors and questions are ideal for students to equip themselves with to get a better idea of what they’d be working with if accepted for enrollment.

How Big is the DSS Office?

Short for “disabled student services,” the DSS is going to be the main sign as to how involved (or not) a college or university is when providing accommodations for its students with disabilities. It is important to find out the size of the DSS office to get a better understanding of how many resources are offered to students and what type.

Students with DisabilitiesOne way to learn about a campus’s DSS operations is to visit this location during the college tour. This gives students the chance to see the facilities for themselves, as well as speak directly with the people in charge of those services.

A good-sized, fully staffed DSS office where people aren’t taking on 2-3 roles at at time is a positive sign that the school places a lot of emphasis on assisting students with disabilities.

What is the Campus’s Demographic for Students with Disabilities?

Colleges have all kinds of charts, graphs and other statistical data that deals with the makeup of its student body. Students with disabilities have a right to ask for information that relates to how much of a school’s student body is made up of those with disabilities and/or learning conditions. It only makes sense that students would feel more comfortable going to a school that has peers they can relate to.

Additionally, the more students with disabilities a campus has, the more likely they are to offer and provide adequate accommodations.

Are Accommodations Everywhere or Only in Certain Areas?

Ramps, automatic door openers and lifts are standard at all college campuses in the country but where students should be concerned is if these measures are put in place everywhere or only in select areas. For example, does the school have universal access options for the dorms and residence halls? The bathrooms? The bookstores? The student center? Those with disabilities should feel welcome to access any building or facility on and around campus, not be restricted to only certain areas.

Talk With a DSS Counselor

In addition to visiting the DSS office, it is important to schedule an appointment to talk with a counselor. This is the best opportunity to have any questions or concerns addressed, as well as find out how comfortable students with disabilities are with the people on the DSS staff.

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