Coping with Disability

University can be a daunting environment. Students with disabilities face the additional task of coping with their disability and succeeding at a university. For first year students, the university can be a foreboding place. For a student with a disability, this new environment may be more daunting because some of the support they may have had in high school may no longer be present.

Advance preparation is a very important part of a successful academic year. There are many steps that can be taken to facilitate your transition to the university. Obtaining information regarding courses, registration assistance, and arranging to meet with professors are all helpful ways to prepare. It may be advisable for you to disclose to your professor that you have a disability. It can be beneficial for the student to speak personally with professors, explaining the disability and how it affects them in a classroom situation. In situations where the disability may not be readily apparent (i.e., a student with a learning disability), speaking with your professors is imperative. Being able to describe your disability to your professor in a clear and concise manner is essential.

All students entering college must make adjustments to a new way of living. The adjustment period is different for everyone, depending on the degree to which they must negotiate change. For some it may prove more difficult than for others. For students with disabilities, the transition involves much more than dealing with emancipation from parents or becoming more self-reliant. Often times, the major accomplishment of adjusting to the university setting is contacting and utilizing the resources and services offered by the university to assist students with disabilities.

Colleges and Universities did not come equipped to provide appropriate services to students with disabilities. Over the last few decades, universities nationwide have worked to make their institutions accessible to students with special needs. Wright State University has established the Office of Disability Services to promote each student’s academic, physical, personal, and vocational growth.

Services Available through the Office of Disability Services include:

  • Physical support services

    • assistance with daily personal hygiene

    • assistance locating adapted housing off campus

    • handicapped parking areas

    • the activities of daily living to achieve greater independence

    • coordination of campus mobility

    • orientation for students with visual impairments

    • underground tunnel system

  • Academic support services for students with physical or learning disabilities

    • sign language

    • interpretors

    • reading/writing services

    • lab assistance

    • Technology center

      • provides class materials in alternative formats ( audio cassettes, braille, computer disks, and image enhancement)

    • Career and vocational support

      • career planning

      • searching for employment

      • provides job experience/opportunities

Most of these services are free to students; however fee-based services such as personal assistance and out of class reader/writer services can be billed directly to agencies or students. Students must be deemed eligible to receive services.

Counseling and Wellness Services can help by providing a wide array of services, including psychological assessment and diagnostics to help students meet eligibility requirements, or with issues related to adjustment.


References

Apostoli, B.D. (1986). Making the transition to postsecondary education. Journal of Reading, Writing, and Learning Disabilities International. Vol. 2 (4), p.325-330

Leatherman-Sommers, S. (2000). Attachment and adjustment to college among students with physical disabilities. . Dissertation Abstracts International section B: The Sciences and Engineering. Vol. 60 (7-B), p.35

Werner, K. (2001) Transitioning and adapting to college: A case study analysis of thexperience of university students with psychiatric disabilities. Dissertation Abstracts International section A: Humanities and Social Sciences. Vol. 62 (3-A), p.942

Information compiled by James Manuel