What are college options for students with disabilities?
In general, there are two main pathways to college that are available to students with disabilities. Students who might have challenges navigating a college environment — such as students with autism, visual impairment, or who are Deaf or hard of hearing (D/HH) who are academically able to complete a college degree with accommodations — now have more access to a great deal of support, often through a Disabled Students’ Programs and Services (DSPS) office. Many colleges also have a Neurodiversity Club to provide support and community. (Also note that, if there is a direct connection to finding employment, the Department of Rehabilitation in California can pay for college and related materials.)
Students with intellectual disabilities for whom admittance to a regular college program isn’t possible — for example, students who complete a high school diploma with curriculum modifications — now have more options, too. There are an increasing number of non-degree programs designed specifically for students with intellectual disabilities centered on a college campus. Typically, students take college courses for half their time while also learning to live independently and gain work experience in businesses that fit their career goals.
For more information, see our article Thinking About College for Students With Intellectual Disabilities.