For students with disabilities, the growth in online college also represents growth in access and opportunity. As the quality of online of online education and the technology surrounding it continue to improve, online colleges and universities are coming to serve an increasingly diverse population of students. Online colleges are often in a unique position to provide or facilitate the use of sophisticated learning accommodations, which can make this a particularly valuable educational pathway for students managing physical disabilities, learning disabilities, mental health challenges, sensory impairment, and a host of other educational challenges.
Online college presents an exciting set of possibilities for students who are navigating both the challenges of higher education and disability. Online college:
- Creates accessibility for those with limited mobility or range of travel;
- Can be uniquely adaptive to the use of assistive technology;
- Provides secure, remote connectivity for individuals with social, emotional or behavioral conditions; and
- May help elucidate optimal learning strategies unique to each individual’s strengths and needs.
Read on for our Guide to Online College for Students With Disability. The resource is designed to help students with disabilities, as well as families and educators, as you navigate the learning accommodations available through online education and online college. This also includes a look at the technology, resources and advocacy groups working to support online college students with disabilities or special needs. Below, you’ll find materials addressing:
- Key Laws Impacting Students with Disabilities;
- Essential Support Resources and Advocacy Groups;
- Available learning accommodations for specific areas of need including physical and learning disabilities, visual and hearing impairment, mental health needs, and the autism spectrum;
- Instructional and support needs for online educators of students with disabilities; and
- The ongoing policy, technology and pedagogy changes in both online college and learning accommodations.
Key Laws Impacting Students with Disabilities
Under the terms of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as well as a number of Department of Education policy initiatives, colleges and universities are required to make available certain protections, rights and opportunities for individuals with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, hearing or vision impairment and a host of other educational needs. This is true of online colleges as well as traditional schools. Read on to learn more about the laws, policies and rights impacting students with disabilities and special needs.
If you’re interested in working as a legal advocate, a disabilities attorney, or a lawmaker, consider a degree in legal studies or public administration:
- The 25 Best Bachelor’s in Legal Studies Degree Programs
- The 30 Best Online MPA Programs: Online Master in Public Administration
- 10 Top Affordable Recognized Law Schools in the U.S.
Disability Resources and Advocacy
While online colleges do provide improved access for individuals in need of learning accommodations, most students and families can still benefit from a wide range of support services, scholarship opportunities, educational materials, and advocacy groups. These resources can help you navigate the unique challenges of attending online college while managing disabilities and can improve your chances of enjoying a positive, inclusive, and successful educational experience. Read on for information, links and contact information and explore all the resources available to you.
If you’re interested in a career in public outreach or advocacy, consider a degree in social work:
- The Best Online Associate’s in Social Work Degree Programs
- The 40 Best Bachelor’s in Social Work Degree Programs
- The 25 Best Master of Social Work (MSW) Online Degree Programs
- The Best Online Doctorate in Social Work Programs
Physical Disability and Online College
As a computer-mediated form of learning, online college has opened new avenues of accessibility for individuals with a wide array of physical limitations. For students with limited or impaired mobility, those who are unable to travel, and those who are unable to use the facilities available in a traditional classroom, online college can open many new doors. Find out how online college is creating pathways for individuals with physical disabilities and learn more about the technology, programs, support services, and other learning accommodations that are making these pathways possible.
Learning Disability and Online College
Online education presents a unique platform for individualized learning opportunities. For students managing learning challenges like dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD, and developmental delay, online college creates innumerable new ways to assess strengths, distill areas of need, and illuminate unique learning styles. This means that online education has the potential to make a higher education possible, and valuable, for students managing a wide range of learning challenges. Find out how online college is creating pathways for individuals with learning disabilities and learn more about the technology, programs, support services, and other learning accommodations that are making these pathways possible.
If you’re interested in a career helping those with disabilities, consider a degree in special education:
- The nine Best Online Bachelor’s in Special Education Programs
- The 30 Best Online Master’s in Special Education Degree Programs
- The Best Online Special Education Doctorate Degree Programs
Visual Impairment and Online College
For students who are blind, partially blind, or visually impaired, online college can ease the challenges that come with travel, campus navigation, or the use of outdated educational facilities. This is an especially valuable outlet for students living in communities or regions that lack sufficient public accommodations for those who are visually impaired. Find out how online college is creating pathways for individuals with visual impairment and learn more about the technology, programs, support services, and other learning accommodations that are making these pathways possible.
Hearing Impairment and Online College
For students who are deaf, partially deaf, or hearing impaired, online college can offer access to an educational experience that is uniquely visual. This is especially beneficial for students who are limited in their ability to absorb lectures or participate in class discussions. Computer-mediation makes it possible for individuals with hearing impairment to engage more fully with educators and classmates. Find out how online college is creating pathways for individuals with hearing impairment and learn more about the technology, programs, support services, and other learning accommodations that are making these pathways possible.
Mental Health Needs and Online College
Mental health issues are a rising concern in academia. The pressure to succeed, long hours of work, and the difficulties of adjusting to a new environment have led to higher rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide among students. Online college can provide a safe, secure, and comforting alternative to the college campus for individuals managing mental health challenges. But as an online student, you may also lack immediate access to campus mental health services. This means that it’s important to know what to do, who to call, and where to turn if you or somebody you know is in crisis. Read on to learn about the resources, support services, and crisis lines that you can make use of as an online student.
If you’re interested in a career helping others navigate mental health challenges, consider a degree in psychology:
- The 25 Best Online Associate in Psychology Programs
- The 50 Best Online Bachelor’s in Psychology Degree Program
- The 25 Best Online Master’s in Psychology Degree Programs
- The Best Online Doctorate in Organizational Psychology Degree Programs
Autism Spectrum and Online College
The Autism Spectrum manifests in an extremely wide range of symptoms, learning conditions, and degrees of severity. This means that the educational challenges faced by individuals on the autism spectrum are also extremely varied, and may or may not include social difficulties, developmental delays, a tendency toward self-harm, and sensitivity to various sensory stimuli. Online education combines the possibility of a highly individualized learning experience with the ability to create a controlled learning environment. Find out how online college is creating pathways for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and learn more about the technology, programs, support services, and other learning accommodations that are making these pathways possible.
Disabled Veterans and Online College
Many veterans return from active duty with the goal of higher education in mind. Disabilities developed during military service shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving this goal, and there are plenty of resources to help. Read on to learn about key resources for disabled veterans seeking to earn college degrees.
Click here to jump directly to our Military Education HQ.
New Developments in Online Learning for Students with Disabilities
In many ways, online college remains a frontier. Growing accessibility and emergent technology are paving the way for continued innovation around learning accommodations and disability support. Read on to find out what’s happening in the important space where learning accommodations and online education converge.