What You Need to Know About College as a Student with a Disability

The transition from high school to college can be both a scary and exciting time for every student. College is a whole new world, and unlike anything most students have yet experienced.

 

Before heading off to college, students have questions and concerns about their future. Most students probably wonder about their major, whether they will like the school they have chosen, and what their new friends will be like, but for students with disabilities, the questions can often be a little more complicated.

 

Students with disabilities may wonder about accommodations, accessibility, services and supports, and getting help with everyday needs. And these questions may not be easy to answer.

 

As someone who’s a former college student, and an individual with a disability, I wanted to share some of the things that I wish I had known freshman year in hopes that it may make your transition a little bit easier.

 

Self Advocacy Is Key:

Growing up, it was typically the responsibility of your parents, teachers, or other administrators to make sure you got the accommodations and supports you needed to be successful in school. But, in college, it becomes primarily your responsibility.

 

Self-advocacy is always important but becomes especially essential when navigating college. College is often the first time students have lived away from home, and it is important to remember that you are your own best advocate: there are lots of supports in place to help you be successful, but you have to be proactive and reach out so that the people around you know what you may, or may not need.

 

Most schools have Offices or Departments of Disability Services in place to help students with disabilities get the accommodations they need, such as note-taking support, extra time on exams, or any other reasonable academic accommodation, but nobody from the office is going to seek you out, especially if they don’t even know you’re there.

 

Make a point to become familiar with the services and supports that exist on your campus. Talk to the disability support staff to work on a plan for your accommodations to help ensure success from day one. You are in college now and, like your peers without disabilities, there are still people there to help you, but for the most part, you are in the driver’s seat now!

 

The Laws Are Different:

K-12 education for students with disabilities is mandated under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), this means that students with disabilities are entitled to public education and that it is the responsibility of the school to see that all students are getting an appropriate education. Colleges don’t fall under IDEA, and therefore, are not required to make accommodations to the same degree as the public school system.

 

In college, students with disabilities are protected from discrimination, such as inaccessibility of buildings, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Schools must provide reasonable accommodations such as notetakers or extra time on exams, but they don’t have any obligation to modify coursework to accommodate students with disabilities or provide additional supports such as assistance with personal care or activities of daily living to ensure a student is successful.

So, if you are, for example, a wheelchair user who needs help to get in and out of bed or perform other daily activities, the ADA requires your school to provide you with an accessible dorm room, but there is no legal obligation to provide you with an assistant or other types of personal care support.

 

This is important to know because it means that you will need to set up the supports you need on your own before you head off to school. Some schools have programs to help students with personal care needs, but this is not a requirement for all schools. Look into what your school offers to figure out what kind of supports may be available.

 

For more information about the difference in laws governing K-12 education and college check out the resources below:

 

https://umaine.edu/disability/accommodations-high-school-vs-college/

 

https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/transitionguide.html

 

https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/auxaids.html

 

 

It’s Okay to Reach out for Help and Support:

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, or struggling more than you thought you would, there is absolutely no shame in asking for help. Mental and emotional well-being is just as important as physical health, and academic support.

 

Most colleges have a variety of services to support students from health centers, to counseling and other mental health services, and wellness programs, in addition to academic supports. Take advantage of the support and community that exists around you, and don’t be afraid to reach out.

 

Additionally, there are lots of groups and activities on college campuses, and many colleges even have organizations run by and for students with disabilities. These organizations may or may not be support oriented. Many of them may just be social groups, or groups focused on advocacy and activism.

 

Whether or not they are disability focused, student organizations and extracurricular activities can be another great place to find support in college.

 

 

Transition Is Not One-Size-Fits-All:

Everybody is unique, which means that everyone’s experience in transitioning from high school to what comes after will look, feel, and be, very different. Whether you’re planning to go to school far away, attend college close to home, or do something else after high school, it’s important to remember there is no right way to transition from high school to beyond.

 

Whatever you decide to do after high school graduation, focus on making sure that it’s the right option for you, rather than worrying about whether it’s what other people expect.

 

For more information you need to know,  check out the topics below:

What You Need to Know About Preventative Care and Disability
What You Need to Know About Sexual and Reproductive Health and Disability

UCP of Michigan Staff Invited to Attend Meeting Called by The Pope

Special thanks to Glenn Ashley, retired staff from UCP, for his assistance in working to help put this post together. 

UCP of Michigan’s Public Policy Specialist, Barb Valliere, was invited to attend the U.S. Regional Meeting of Popular Movements (RMOPM), which ran from February 16-19 in Modesto, CA.Part of international movements called by the Pope, the meeting in California brought together nearly 700 leaders from clergy members to grassroots leaders to provide input on a variety of social issues, including: job access and inclusion for people with disabilities, environmental issues, and racism. This meeting was the third in a series of international meetings (the previous two were held in Rome and Bolivia) aimed at bringing together members of the clergy and grassroots activists. For Barb, while the journey to California marked her first time on a plane, as Catholic woman with cerebral palsy it was an opportunity she could not pass up.

Ms. Valliere was one of three people invited from the Lansing, MI area to attend the meeting. Her invitation was a result of her leadership and work in community organizing efforts at the state and national levels. Initially, no one from the area was scheduled to speak, however, an issue with accessibility changed all of that. After requesting to be put in an accessible room, Barb was put in a room that was not accessible for her. The conference organizers were able to rectify the problem and accommodate her with another room. RMOPM asked her if she would like to address the entire assembly at dinner about the problem and her experience as person with a disability.


In her remarks to the assembly, she emphasized the importance of civil rights for people with disabilities. Attendees were reminded that when they plan events and invite people, to make sure to take care of their needs and have the event accessible to all, and to not assume that a space is accessible on word alone. She also encouraged other individuals with disabilities to advocate for yourself to ensure that your needs are met. Ms. Valliere made her point in community organizing fashion, encouraging event participants to move deeper into a  discussion on access and issues that affect the disability community.

 

Information for the blog was taken from movimientospopulares.org‘s press release.

UCP Launches “Speak for Yourself,” a PCORI-Funded Project to Establish a Patient-Centered Research Network for Individuals with Disabilities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                  Contact: Randi Moore, (202) 494-4638

Washington, D.C. (May 3, 2016) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) has launched Speak for Yourself, a two-year project funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award to address the various barriers to access that discourage or prevent individuals with disabilities from participating in medical research.

Speak for Yourself is a movement that will build a network of individuals with disabilities who are trained and empowered to become directly involved in medical research that improves their health outcomes.

“People with disabilities have long expressed the desire not only for more opportunities to participate in research, but for a voice in the decision-making around the ‘what’, ‘how’, and ‘why’ of disability-focused research. Speak for Yourself aims to empower people with disabilities to work alongside researchers to ensure that the future of research meets the needs of real people,” said Stephen Bennett, UCP’s President and CEO.

Speak for Yourself will include various opportunities for online engagement and access to resources on research participation. Each year of the project will culminate in a one-day convening bringing together advocates and researchers to collaborate on how to build a more dynamic relationship.

“To promote health equity among people with disabilities, we need to pursue research that is meaningful to those most affected. To do so, people with disabilities must have a say in the research process. Speak for Yourself is a part of the solution to transform science and promote patient-centered outcomes,” said Katherine McDonald, PhD, Associate Professor of Public Health at Syracuse University.

UCP believes that relevant and well-informed patient-centered clinical research is essential to advancing healthcare access, quality, and choice for individuals with disabilities. A patient-centered approach to research that encourages individuals with disabilities to provide input on the gaps in evidence, best practices, and direction of disability-focused research is central to creating a life without limits

More information about Speak for Yourself can be found at http://mylifewithoutlimits.org/speak-for-yourself/

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About United Cerebral Palsy

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services through an affiliate network to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. Together with a network of affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence. For more information, please visit http://ucp.org.


About The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010 to fund comparative effectiveness research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence needed to make better-informed health and healthcare decisions. Its mission is to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed healthcare decisions. PCORI is committed to continually seeking input from a broad range of stakeholders to guide its work.

 

UCP Wants To Hear From YOU In 2016!

Happy New Year!

Get. Excited!

New Years is many things. For me, it is the time to remember successes of the past year and the time to get excited for the year to come. It’s all about…time. Counting down. Counting towards.

I’m Jennifer McCue, UCP’s Director of Advocacy. I’m new here to UCP – just a few months in. Before we talk about the new to come to UCP in 2016, let’s reflect quickly on what has happened in 2015. You can learn in detail here, but in a snapshot, here’s what happened: 

  • The 25th Anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act celebrated 25 years.
  • Congress passed a funding bill that included provisions to fund caregiving and respite care programs.
  • Provisions to cap reimbursement for complex rehab technologies were delayed for a year.
  • Education legislation was passed that includes improved provisions for the disability community.

In a year, where successes were few and far in between, it seems the needle may be moving. Consider me a skeptic, but while there is indeed reason to be excited and reason to be hopeful there is a greater reason and necessity to want more.

On the horizon for 2016 we have a Congressional election. Efforts are underway to implement education and reimbursement provisions along with housing reform and home and community based services, provisions for personal care attendants and caregivers are in motion and independent living efforts and activities are being put forward by the Administration for Community Living.

We are also going to create a platform here at UCP for you.  A place to be heard, a place for information, a place to connect, a place to tell your story and use it towards change.  A place for me to know you.

With all that is happening here in DC, and with you at home we will be sending you a series of communications to update and engage but also to ask you – what is important to YOU?  What would you like to see happen?  What NEW do you want to see this YEAR? You can tweet us (we’re @UCPNational) or tell us on Facebook using the hashtag #UCPNEWYEAR!

A lot is on the horizon and we will need you, your stories, your voices, and your support to make sure we are on the path towards a life without limits. We are counting on you.

So, tell me… what does UCP mean to you? 

Happy New Year!

Talk soon.

Disability Policy Seminar Brings Advocates to Capitol Hill

Capitol

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost 700 disability advocates gathered at The Renaissance Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C.April 13-15 for the annual Disability Policy Seminar. Co-hosted each year by UCP, The Arc, SABE, AAIDD, AUCD and NACDD, this event brings together advocates, policy experts and people with disabilities and their families on Capitol Hill to discuss current policy issues important to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and to advocate for top priority policies by going directly to their representatives in Congress.

Take a peek at the event courtesy of photos from AUCD at https://www.flickr.com/photos/aucd.

Visit disabilitypolicyseminar.org for more general information about the event and to plan for next year.

 

Keeping the Promise: Self Advocates Defining the Meaning of Community Living

Leaders from the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the National Youth Leadership Network, Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered, and other allies came together for a Community Living Summit to provide the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) with a definition of community that captures the most vital elements of community life for people with disabilities. The summit proceedings and interviews addressed three specific questions:

  • What are three things that determine that a place or residential program is not part of the community?
     
  • What are three things that determine that a place or program where a person gets residential services is truly in the community?
     
  • What does Community Living really mean?

The results of these conversations were published in the document, Keeping the Promise: Self Advocates Defining the Meaning of Community Living