What percentage of college students have disabilities?

by Grace

During the 2011-12 school year, students with disabilities comprised 11% of college enrollment.

Here is the distribution of the types of disabilities from 2008-09

Type of Disability Percentage
Specific learning disabilities 31
ADD or ADHD3 18
Mental illness/psychological or psychiatric condition5 15
Health impairment/condition, including chronic conditions 11
Mobility limitation/orthopedic impairment  7
All others 18

The all others category includes audio, visual, and language impairments, as well as autism.

HEATH can be a resource for prospective college students with disabilities.

The HEATH Resource Center is an online clearinghouse on postsecondary education for individuals with disabilities. Since 2000, the HEATH Resource Center has served as a national clearinghouse on postsecondary education for individuals with disabilities, managed by The George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Now, The HSC Foundation has partnered with The George Washington University to expand the content of this resource and to designate it as the official site of The HSC Foundation’s National Youth Transitions Center.

Some colleges provide extra support services.

Almost all colleges provide some level of services for students with disabilities.  The American Educational Guidance Center provides a list of some that go a step further…they offer programs, some quite comprehensive, designed to support students with learning disabilities”.

Most learning disabled college students are no longer receiving the type of support services they did during their K-12 years.

While 94 percent of high school students with learning disabilities get some kind of help, just 17 percent of college students do.

Along with “18-year-olds’ natural inclination to go it alone”, another problem is finances.

Many college disability centers require documentation of a student’s learning disability. A set of tests used to verify whether a student has a disability, necessary for those who have no documentation or haven’t been tested before, costs as much as $5,000, according to academic-support and disability-services coordinators at several colleges and universities — a price tag K-12 schools pay but many higher-education institutions won’t.

While more and more colleges offer innovative programs in which staff members work closely with learning-disabled students, many charge extra for those, too. Some schools have turned to grants and private donors to cover this cost, but students often are expected to pay for the programs.

It’s probably safe to say that most college professors are not knowledgeable about instruction for learning disabled students.

“I think we have to always remember that while professors are amazing experts in content areas, many of them have had no training in pedagogy,” said Williams, who is introducing UDL to three North Carolina campuses. “We have to find practical ways to help them know how to do that.”

ADDED:

Advocates for the deaf on Thursday filed federal lawsuits against Harvard and M.I.T., saying both universities violated antidiscrimination laws by failing to provide closed captioning in their online lectures, courses, podcasts and other educational materials.

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Matt Krupnick, “Colleges respond to growing ranks of learning disabled”, The Hechinger Report, February 13, 2014.

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2 Comments to “What percentage of college students have disabilities?”

  1. I deal with students all the time who I am certain are ADHD but have never registered with the disabilities office. It is too bad because they offer a fair amount of organizational support. ONe huge issue that you have not mentioned is that students go off their ADHD meds because they can sell them – the meds have street value. I increasingly thing that may be one of the biggest problems

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  2. Yes, it seems that many kids continue to get their prescribed ADHD meds but may be “sharing” them with their fellow students instead of taking them themselves.

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