“Congratulations! It is with great pleasure that I offer you admission to the college of your choice.”
These are the words that every student wants to read after going through the sometimes grueling and often tedious process of applying to college. For those who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices, there are often more considerations beyond the excitement of acceptance: “Will I be able to navigate the campus?” “Can I continue my physical therapy while I’m at college?” “How do I hire a personal care assistant?” “How will I afford tuition and any disability-related services I need?”
Once you receive acceptance letters, the clock starts ticking to figure out which school is the best fit for you. Colleges provide varying levels of accommodations and support, and most require you to commit by May 1. This may leave you with a short amount of time to make connections and do research, all while finishing up your senior year of high school. If you can, tour the colleges you are interested in before applying. However, that’s not always possible, so once you receive acceptance letters, there are a few items to add to your to-do list.
Every college has a disability support office or person tasked with administering the accommodation process for students with disabilities. The office may have a different name at each institution. It might be called student accessibility services, disability support services, academic resource center or a variation on those titles.
It’s a good idea to make a list of accommodations you may need on campus. Think about the campus’ physical accessibility, including dorm rooms, adaptive sports and fitness facilities, point-to-point transportation and the availability of lift-equipped buses. Also, consider classroom needs like notetakers, furniture and assistive technology.
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