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 Expresses Concerns About American Health Care Act of 2017

Last Thursday, Members of the House of Representatives passed, by a narrow margin, H.R. 1628 (the American Health Care Act of 2017, or AHCA for short). United Cerebral Palsy, along with our colleagues in Washington, expressed concerns about the bill in its current form (as well as previous proposals that were circulated).

 

We joined coalitions focused on the preservation of coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions, coverage for rehabilitative and habilitative services, and protecting Medicaid. We also took part in advocacy efforts with the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities, a coalition of 100 national disability organizations working together to advocate for national public policy that ensures the self-determination, independence, empowerment, integration, and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in all aspects of society. In short, we are not alone in our concerns and we will continue to work together to fight this harmful bill.

We share the concerns many of you have voiced to us about the lack of review by the Congressional Budget Office of this latest bill, and the potentially devastating consequences the House bill as written could have on the 175,000 families served by UCP’s affiliate network (and really all individuals with disabilities who rely on Medicaid for health coverage and/or long-term services and supports).

We are hopeful that as the Senate deliberates, more information about the projected impact of the House bill will become known and that the Senate will not pass a bill that would bring harm to our community.

Senators need to hear from constituents, and we hope you will tell your story. To learn more about UCP’s public policy work and to get involved, please visit http://ucp.org/what-we-do/public-policy/

WineBev Creating Opportunity to “Work Without Limits”

The Napa Valley is known for gorgeous weather and of course for wine. UCP’s affiliate in the Napa Valley area, UCP of the North Bay, works to bring together the wine industry and individuals with disabilities. WineBev Services began in 2007 and is helping to acknowledge the need for labor in the region, while opening doors for more accessible and competitive employment for people with disabilities. “It was a natural fit given the area,” says Mike Lisenko, President of Business Operations for WineBev.

 

WineBev works with around 15 to 20 wineries in the area at any given time during the season. They currently employ 115 individuals with disabilities, working in all areas – from packing to fulfillment. Potential employees are referred to WineBev from the local regional center in Napa, which helps to pair individuals with providers in the community. Candidates go through a job skills training course before finding the area that best suits their skills. WineBev provides both community-based and supportive employment. They also work with the the hospitality industry in the area, giving greater flexibility to area employers and finding roles that best suit each individual employee’s strengths.

 

WineBev estimates that nearly 200 individuals have come through the program, with several finding employment on their own after their time there. At UCP of the North Bay, living a “life without limits” plays a role in every aspect of life – both work and play. At WineBev, “Work Without Limits” is more than just a tagline – it’s a purpose and flows through every facet of WineBev, from monitoring to packing, to creating employment opportunity for all.

 

Special thanks to Mike Lisenko, President of Business Operations for WineBev.

 

For more information on WineBev, please visit www.winebev.com.

 

To find out more about UCP of the North Bay and their programs, visit their website at http://ucpnb.org/.

 

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.

Jeffrey Cooper, Recipient of the Kathy O. Maul Leadership Award at 2017 UCP Annual Meeting

Congratulations to Jeffrey Cooper, President, and CEO of UCP of Central Pennsylvania on being named the recipient of the Kathy O. Maul Leadership Award at the 2017 UCP Annual Meeting in Nashville, TN!

Thank you for all of your hard work, leadership, and dedication to individuals with disabilities!

Jeffrey Cooper, President, and CEO of UCP of Cental PA with Interim CEO of the UCP national office, Rick Forkosh.

UCP and the National Council on Disability – “First Responders and Disability”

On December 9, 2016, UCP and the National Council on Disability joined together to host a day of conversation surrounding first responders and the disability community. Bringing together diverse perspectives from across the country, the day was a raw and honest look at the way law enforcement and other members of the first responder community interact with those living with disabilities.

Watch the footage (captioned) below:

 

View the Program Agenda

View the Event Summary here

 

United Cerebral Palsy and the National Council on Disability Coming Together for “First Responders and Disability”

UCP-NCD2United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) and the National Council on Disability (NCD) are coming together to host a day long convening on December 9th, 2016, focusing on First Responders and the Disability Community. The discussion will center on first responder reform and the impact on the disability community.

The purpose of this discussion is to gather information and resources to inform NCD’s 2017 policy project focusing on how to transform the policies and practice around First Responders engagement with the disability community. This conversation will include experts in criminal justice reform, disability rights advocates, policymakers, law enforcement organizations, and individuals impacted by state violence directly.

Please join us from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm EST in person or tune in to the live stream.

For more information, including how to RSVP: Please click here.

See the program agenda here.

Read Speaker Bios here.

We’re Partnering With The Mighty!

We’re thrilled to announce a new partnership that will bring United Cerebral Palsy’s resources to the front of The Mighty‘s wide-reaching readership. We will now  have a growing home page on The Mighty , and appear on many stories on the site, allowing us to get many more people involved with our organization.

The Mighty is a story-based health community focused on improving the lives of people facing disease, disorder, mental illness, and disability. It is estimated that 764,000 children and adults in the U.S. manifest one or more of the symptoms of cerebral palsy, and that 1 in 5 Americans live with some form of disability. They want more than information. They want to be inspired. The Mighty publishes real stories about real people facing real challenges.

We’re dedicated to providing comprehensive support and community for children and adults living with cerebral palsy, as well as other disabilities, and their families. With this partnership, we’ll be able to help even more people.

We encourage you to submit a story to The Mighty and make your voice heard.

Here’s an example of the kind of stories you’ll find on The Mighty: Tommy Hilfiger Launches Adaptive Collection for Children With Disabilities

Share Your Photos for UCP’s “Halloween Without Limits”!

It’s that time of year again! It’s time for UCP’s “Halloween Without Limits.” From now until October 31st, share your most creative costume photos and show us how you celebrate a “Halloween Without Limits”! We want to see your style and how you make Halloween your own!

UCP’s “Halloween Without Limits” is open to all ages, children and adults alike, who get into the Halloween spirit. We invite parents and individuals with disabilities to share their most creative, kooky and fun costumes to our Facebook page by tagging @UnitedCerebralPalsy and using the hashtag #HalloweenWithoutLimits. It doesn’t matter if you’re a princess or a hero, a ghost or a ghoul, as long as you have gone the extra mile to accommodate a disability.

Photos of children under the age of 18 MUST be submitted by a parent or guardian.

The rules are simple:

All you have to do is post your photos to UCP’s Facebook page using #HalloweenWithoutLimits or #HWL so we can all see them!

Check out photos from last year! 

We can’t wait to see your photos!

HalloweenWL 2016

UCP Releases 2016 Case for Inclusion Report

 

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For Inquiries: Kaitlyn Meuser, kmeuser@ucp.org, 202-973-7185

UNITED CEREBRAL PALSY RELEASES STATE RANKINGS ON SERVICES FOR AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES

Arizona, Vermont, New Hampshire, Michigan & Hawaii Top 2016 List

Washington, D.C. (September 20, 2016) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) released the 2016 Case for Inclusion today, an annual report and interactive website used to track state-by-state community living standards for Americans living with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD).

The Case for Inclusion examines data and outcomes for all 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC), ranking each on a set of key indicators, including how people with disabilities live and participate in their communities, if they are satisfied with their lives, and how easily the services and supports they need are accessed. By taking these factors into account, UCP is able to publish this comprehensive analysis of each state’s progress or failures in providing critical services to individuals living with disabilities.

In addition to rankings, the report digs deeper into two critical issues facing people with disabilities and their families: waiting lists for services as well as support for the transition from high school into an adult life in the community. Two case studies examine how states are approaching those issues.

Since 2006, the rankings have enabled families, advocates, the media and policymakers to measure each state’s progress — or lack of improvement — and gain insight into how the highest-ranking states are achieving their success. To enhance the usability of the report, UCP publishes tables of the data from which the report was compiled on an interactive website where visitors can compare and contrast results among selected states.

“Ultimately, the goal of this research is to promote inclusion and enhance the quality of life for all Americans,” said Richard Forkosh, Interim President/CEO of United Cerebral Palsy. “UCP is committed to shining a light on how well states are actually serving people with disabilities and, by extension, their families and communities. Also, we want to underscore the national context for this data so that stakeholders can use this information to drive progress.”

“For more than a decade, UCP has ranked states to showcase the good and to highlight what needs improvement. The fact is real progress is being made. More Americans with ID/DD are living in the community rather than being isolated in large state institutions. But much more work needs to be done to reduce waiting lists, increase employment and expand support to families. This annual ranking clearly shows the true picture of what’s happening and what should be happening in the states for our friends and neighbors with ID/DD,” stated Tarren Bragdon, the report’s author since 2006.

To download and read the entire Case for Inclusion report, or explore the data tables, visit cfi.ucp.org.

Significant Takeaways from the 2016 Rankings

Promoting Independence

1. All states still have room for improvement, but some states have consistently remained at the bottom since 2007, including Arkansas (#49), Illinois (#47), Mississippi (#51) and Texas (#50) primarily due to the small portion of people and resources dedicated to those in small or home-like settings in these four states.

2. 32 states, same as last year, meet the 80/80 Home and Community Standard, which means that at least 80 percent of all individuals with ID/DD are served in the community and 80 percent of all resources spent on those with ID/DD are for home (less than 7 residents per setting) and community support. Those that do not meet the 80/80 standard are: Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia. Connecticut is very close (with 79% spent on HCBS).

3. As of 2014, 15 states report having no state institutions to seclude those with ID/DD, including: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. Another 9 States have only one institution each (Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming). Since 1960, 205 of 354 state institutions have been closed, according to the University of Minnesota’s Research and Training Center on Community Living.

4. 27 states, up from 26, now report meeting the 80 percent Home-Like Setting standard, which means that at least 80 percent of all individuals with ID/DD are served in settings such as their own home, a family home, family foster care or small group settings like shared apartments with fewer than four residents. The U.S. average for this standard is 80 percent. Just eleven (up from 8) States meet a top-performing 90 percent Home-like Setting standard: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, D.C., Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

5. Fifteen states, up from ten last year, report at least 10 percent of individuals using self-directed services, according to the National Core Indicators survey in 36 states. Five states report at least 20 percent being self-directed. These states include: Florida, Illinois, New Hampshire, Utah and Vermont.

Tracking Health, Safety and Quality of Life

6. 47 states, up from 42 last year, participate in the National Core Indicators (NCI) survey, a comprehensive quality-assurance program that includes standard measurements to assess outcomes of services. A total of 36 states, up from 29 last year, reported data outcomes in 2015.

Keeping Families Together

7. Only 15 states, up from 14 last year, report that they are supporting a large share of families through family support (at least 200 families per 100,000 of population). These support services provide assistance to families that are caring for children with disabilities at home, which helps keep families together, and people with disabilities living in a community setting. These family-focused state programs were in: Arizona, California, Delaware, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Promoting Productivity

8. 10 states, up from 8 last year, report having at least 33 percent of individuals with ID/DD working in competitive employment. These states include: Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.

9. 15 states report successfully placing at least 60 percent of individuals in vocational rehabilitation in jobs, with nineteen states reporting the average number of hours worked for those individuals placed being at least 25 hours and four states reporting at least half of those served getting a job within one year. No states met the standard on all three success measures.

Serving Those in Need

10. Waiting lists for residential and community services are high and show the unmet need. Almost 350,000 people, 28,000 more than last year, are on a waiting list for Home and Community-Based Services. This requires a daunting 46 percent increase in States’ HCBS programs. 18 states, an increase from 16 last year, report no waiting list or a small waiting list (requiring less than 10 percent program growth).

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 nearly 70 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—one person at a time, one family at a time. 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, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams, for the next 60 years, and beyond. For more information, please visit www.ucp.org.

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To view this press release in PDF format: click here.