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Higher Education Resources for Students with Physical Disabilities.

College (Prepared by Kathleen Downes)

 There are many considerations that students may have when searching for and choosing a college:

  • Accessibility of Environment: Physical accessibility involves access to buildings, elevators, classrooms, etc. This is what I call “the bare bones” of a disability friendly establishment.

  • Social Access: Students who were in a very small minority in high school may want to investigate about how many students have disabilities on campus. Some find it helpful to have a community instead of being alone in the disability experience.

  • Transportation: Students with physical disabilities may need to consider how they are getting around campus. Find out if the campus has an accessible bus system and if a local paratransit system is available for travel off campus.

  • Personal Care Attendants: If you need physical assistance with activities of daily living like toileting, showering, dressing, and grooming, you will want to find out if your university employs PCAs. Students at some universities hire privately from local agencies, but PCA programs on campus are logistically easier if you plan on a residential experience.

There are four universities in the U.S. that provide "Full Living Services" to students with Physical Disabilities:

Edinboro University (Pennsylvania) - does not require students to hire their own PCAs; personal assistants are provided on the first floor of two dorms. The rooms look like apartments; rooms have call buttons and PCAs on call twenty-four hours a day.

University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign - The Beckwith Residential Support services program is located on the first floor of Nugent Hall. The BRSS administrative team screens PCAs who are then interviewed and hired by the students. There is a “floater” PCA available twenty-four hours a day. Rooms include a ceiling lift system, adjustable hospital style beds, and “keyless entry” doors that operate using a proximity reader.

Wright State University (Dayton, Ohio) - Wright State provides attendant services via trained university students. There is a personal care station in the student union. At night, students with disabilities are supported by able-bodied roommates.

  • Athletics: If you are interested in wheelchair athletics, find out if prospective universities have teams. See the American Collegiate Society for Adapted Athletics:

  • Testing Accommodations/ Academic Support: Find out what types of tutoring services and testing setup a school has. Furthermore, find out the procedure to apply for services.

Additional Resources:

Useful Book- College Success for Students with Physical Disabilities by Chris Wise Tiedemann

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