Professional organizations that track disability in the United States note that levels of disability employment, earnings and health vary greatly from state to state. It’s also true that there is still a vast disparity between American Colleges when it comes to educating people with disabilities. Some colleges in America are well equipped to aid people who have a disability, while others have some catching up to do. This list will show you the 50 colleges in America that have top-notch disability services that allow their students to succeed!
Being a student with a disability means many things. Disabled students need to overcome a stigma regarding their place in society. Many people with disabilities have the means to gain a fulfilling career, but society is not providing for them. Luckily, there are colleges in America that recognize that a disability does not mean that someone should be held back.
The best colleges for students with disabilities provide a range of facilities, services, and accommodations that ensure success. But they also create an environment where a disabled person does not feel excluded. They also ensure that all students are able to gain strong levels of success after college. Disabled or not, the alumni of the best colleges enter the workforce, thanks to how the college has prepared them.
Any of the colleges in the following list is a fine place for a person with disabilities to study. However, it’s also possible that none of the colleges listed below is right for you. If that’s the case, then that’s ok. The article is still useful. Each entry includes a detailed summary of what the college is doing for its disabled students and any other helpful initiatives that it might be running. You can use these summaries to compare and contrast with your own college options. If any college is doing the same things or aims to do the same things, as the colleges listed below, then that’s a strong sign that it’s the right college for you.
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With so many different lists recommending colleges for disabled students online, it can be hard to identify the truly great colleges. But that’s why this article exists. We’ve sorted through all of the other disability-friendly colleges lists and found the most consistent high performers. After this, we’ve conducted our own extensive research to ensure that the colleges are just as disability friendly as the sources claim them to be.
Our final list is ranked by combined source ranking, evidence of innovation in providing disability services, evidence that shows a strong outcome for students with disabilities and evidence of dedication to future improvements.
25. University of Missouri
University of Missouri’s Flexible Attendance program has led College Magazine to name it the ninth best college for the physically disabled. Dealing With Different also names the college as being the 12th best for the physically disabled. University of Missouri’s Disability Center website is filled with success stories. And students are quick to praise their experiences. For example, Sammie Davidson says “The Disability Center is awesome. It’s really nice to know I have reassurance in the notes I take and that I am getting the correct information.”
24. Ramapo College of New Jersey
Mahwah, New Jersey
The historical dedication of treating students with disabilities as equals is what has led College Magazine to name Ramapo College as the seventh best college for the physically disabled. The source notes that ever since the college opened in the early 1970s, it has provided equal access to students, both through its facilities and teaching. Dealing With Different also names the college as the 15th best for the physically disabled. Ramapo College of New Jersey continues to be a place where students are given as many opportunities to succeed as possible. For example, the college allows students to take emotional support animals with them throughout campus.
23. Wright State University
Dealing With Different names Wright State University as the 17th best college for the physically disabled. College Magazine is even more impressed, placing it at second best for the physically disabled. Wright State University is definitely able to accommodate a large number of students with disabilities. It currently assists over 800 enrolled students who have a wide range of mental and physical impairments. All 800+ students can access assistance incredibly easily. The Office of Disability Services even has a walk-in center that is open from 8:30 am to 5 pm from Monday to Friday.
22. University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
Accredited Schools Online is especially impressed with the quality of disability accommodation on offer at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. The source notes that the college’s case managers are able to assist students with disabilities on an individualized basis. Further assistance is provided from specialized instructors. However, the disability services at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign go much further than classroom assistance. The disability office even helps students to plan and explore career opportunities after graduation. College Magazine names the college as the second best in America for the physically disabled.
21. Curry College
The methodology sources have different opinions of Curry College. Prepscholar, College Magazine, College Xpress and Friendship Circle all name it one of the best colleges for students with disabilities. But Dyslexic Advantage gives it one out of 10 stars, saying that for dyslexic students, the services are expensive and ineffective. Despite these mixed responses, Curry College certainly has some strong evidence to back up its claims of being a strong college for students with disabilities. For instance, it has the Program for Advancement of Learning, or PAL. This program is the first in America to focus on students who have language learning disabilities, executive function disorders or ADHD.
20. Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
College Magazine and Dealing With Different both have very similar opinions regarding Southern Illinois University, Carbondale’s accommodation of the physically disabled. The sources rank the college eighth and ninth respectively. However, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale also has a range of high quality programs that are for people with learning disabilities. For example, there is the Achieve Program, that serves students with ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, Asperger’s Syndrome, processing disorders and more. This program boosts a student’s chances of success by creating highly individualized assistance, allowing professionals to tailor support to fit a student’s personal needs.
19. University of Wisconsin, Madison
Dyslexic Advantage, Dealing With Different and College Xpress all name University of Wisconsin, Madison as being one of the best colleges for students with disabilities. Part of what makes the disability services at University of Wisconsin, Madison so strong is that its team liaises with students to coordinate a range of awareness activities together. For example, when the student organization Advocates for Diverse Abilities hosted an adaptive technology and innovation fair, the college’s McBurney Disability Resource Center was involved with the event.
18. Mitchell College
New London, Connecticut
The Thames Program at Mitchell College is a fantastic choice for any student with a learning disability who wants to test the college experience before committing full time. This unique program aims to transition students from high school to university. Even if a student who enrolls in the transition program does not go on to a full time degree, they will at the very least have almost certainly learned many incredible skills. It ensures that students have increased confidence, greater maturity and connections with the college’s community. Friendship Circle, Prepscholar and College Xpress all recommend Mitchell College for students with learning disabilities.
17. Marshall University
Huntington, West Virginia
Thanks to the West Virginia Autism Training Center, Marshall University has been able to improve its services to students with disabilities. Best Colleges Online names it the tenth best college for people with disabilities. It is also recommended by Dyslexic Advantage and Friendship Circle. Since 2002, Marshal University has been running the College Program for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This program runs throughout the summer and allows high school students with autism to prepare for college life. The college also has a wide range of disability services for other students.
16. Edinboro University
Dealing With Different ranks Edinboro University as the sixth best college for the physically disabled due to the college’s commitment to expanding its facilities and services. College Magazine also considers the college to be the fourth best for physically disabled people. Lastly, Accredited Schools Online also features the college on its unnumbered list. But the acclaim for Edinboro University’s disability services is nothing new. In fact, the college has been providing “nationally renowned support services” for more than 40 years.
15. Lesley University
Prepscholar praises Lesley University’s Threshold program, a two-year certificate program, that ensures that students who would typically struggle in college can achieve success. The program provides incredible levels of support for students with disabilities “at every step of their journey.” And when Lesley University says this, it means not just during the course of study. The college also offers programs that transition its graduating students into work in relevant fields. These programs include offering a ‘Bridge Year” where students are allowed to work in internships for nine months while staying in halls of residence. The Atlantic and Very Well Health also praise Lesley University.
14. Augsburg University
One thing that sets Augsburg University apart from other liberal arts colleges that its disability assistance is mostly free or low cost. It even compiles a range of technologies for students that are between $25 to $0. And there are dedicated areas across the college where students with disabilities can access facilities that will aid them with their studies. This includes the Groves Lab, which is filled with specialized computers, scanners, printers and testing rooms for students with disabilities. Prepscholar, Very Well Health and Friendship Circle all praise the college as being great for disabled students.
13. Rochester Institute of Technology
Rochester, New York
Accredited Schools Online considers Rochester Institute of Technology to have a fantastic school for the deaf. The National Technical Institute for the Deaf is a world-leading resource for the students it serves. However, Best Colleges Online also notes that Rochester Institute of Technology has fine facilities for ADD and learning disability students. Prepscholar states that for a fee of $660 per semester, a student can meet with a mentor once a week to help them with anything that may be obstructing their studies. As well as providing strong disability services to students, Rochester Institute of Technology also runs the Center for Accessibility and Inclusion Research, which aims to bring “together faculty and students who conduct and publish research at leading computing and education venues, on accessibility and assistive technology for diverse users.”
12. University of Denver
Thanks to two different programs on offer at University of Denver, all students with disabilities are accommodated. One is the Learning Effectiveness Program, which provides counseling, tutoring, management assistance and more for $1,350 per quarter. But for students who can’t afford this, there is the Disability Services Program, which allows students to access extended time for tests in distraction-free environments, note takers, interpreters and other services. Because of these services, Best Colleges Online names University of Denver the 16th best college for disabled students. Prepscholar and College Xpress also feature the college in their lists.
11. DePaul University
Prepscholar is impressed with Depaul University’s Center for Students with Disabilities. In particular, it notes that the students can access a learning specialist clinician to help them navigate their academics. However, the clinician services are charged in addition to a student’s tuition. Luckily, students who need to access the college’s disability services can do so from both of the college’s Chicago campuses, as there is a building on both sites. Best Colleges Online names DePaul University the 13th best college for students with disabilities. College Xpress and Very Well Health also rank it on their lists.
10. Marist College
Poughkeepsie, New York
The students with disabilities at Marist University who are enrolled in the Learning Support Program have unequaled levels of support. That’s because a learning specialist works with them one on one, ensuring that the student’s needs are accommodated. Most students who access the program are able to meet up with their specialist twice per week. The learning goals that are worked on in this session are individualized, but typically they involve improving writing skills, note-taking skills, organization skills, exam skills and time management skills. This program is filled with highly experienced professionals. In fact, the program has been running since 1982. Four methodology sources recommend Marist College as being one of the best colleges for students with disabilities.
9. University of California, Berkeley
Four different sources state that University of California, Berkeley is one of the best colleges for students with disabilities. When it comes to staff members who understand the needs of people with disabilities, then the college is second to none. On campus, there are disability specialists, professional development counseling and accessibility experts. And there are plenty of these experts to see to the entire student body. At present, over 1,600 undergraduate students are enrolled in the Disabled Students’ Program, which ensures that students are “getting to class regularly, meeting with faculty and peers to study and learn” and doing much more.
8. Lynn University
Boca Raton, Florida
The Institute for Achievement and Learning at Lynn University has ensured that students with learning disabilities are able to receive all the assistance that they require. As well as more traditional accommodations, this institute actively incorporates “innovative academic support services that creatively link all aspects of Lynn University with academic achievement to become independent learners.” For example, thanks to the Institute for Achievement and Learning, students are able to engage with their curriculum through an iPad, which is given to all students at the start of study. Five different methodology sources rank Lynn University as being one of the best colleges for students with disabilities.
7. Ball State University
The methodology lists are incredibly polarized when it comes to ranking Ball State University. Dealing With Different and College Magazine both name it America’s best college for the physically disabled. But no other sources feature it. When it comes to students with a physical disability, then the college is indeed world leading. It has housing, transportation, seating, tables and much more suited for those with physical disabilities. But the advantage that Ball State University offers for students with disabilities goes far beyond just the world-leading facilities. The college provides a range of training for its faculty, to ensure that they know how to provide for disabled students in the right manner.
6. American University
Five methodology sources name American University as being one of the best colleges for students with disabilities. Prepscholar is impressed with the college’s Academic Support and Access Center, which provides a range of helpful services to students. It also notes that the college has the Learning Services Program, which provides freshman students with disabilities with individual program coordinators, however, this costs $4,700. The college is always keen to expand its services to a wider number of students. For instance, in 2019, it has started a weekly program for students on the autistic spectrum. American University also ranks at 17th on Best Colleges Online and sixth on College Magazine’s learning disabilities list. Additionally, the college has an eight out of 10 score on Dyslexic Advantage and is featured on College Xpress’s expert sourced list.
5. University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa
Of the five sources that name University of Iowa one of the best colleges for students with disabilities, Best Colleges Online is the most impressed. This source names it the top college for students with special needs in the USA. There are many reasons why a source would name University of Iowa one of the best, if not the best college for students with disabilities. For example, it offers a range of incredible scholarships and awards for students with a certain disability.
4. University of Connecticut
Six sources highly recommend University of Connecticut’s disabilities services. This is especially impressive, as the college’s sprawling campus could easily be an impediment for many students with disabilities. Instead, the college goes out of its way to accommodate these students, providing many buses, shuttles and many more things around campus to make education easier. However, the college is not content with just its current measures. It is continually updating its infrastructure. For example, in summer 2019, University of Connecticut will undertake a range of upgrades to buildings all over the campus.
3. Beacon College
Seven different sources name Beacon College as one of the best colleges for students with disabilities. College Magazine is the source most impressed, naming it America’s second best college for students who are learning disabled. What is key to the source’s high ranking is the college’s small class sizes. To ensure that every student can get the education that they deserve, class sizes at Beacon College never exceed 15 people. Beacon College is one of two in America that are specifically geared towards students with learning disabilities. Beacon’s specialized approach has seen results, with strong numbers to back its education up. 70% of students have an on-time graduation rate, and 83.5% of graduates secure employment or graduate school placement.
2. University of Arizona
Almost all of the methodology sources are amazed with University of Arizona’s commitment to helping its students with disabilities. Most of these sources rave about the quality of the college’s Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques Center. This center creates an individual education plan for every student with a disability, boosting each student’s chance of success. However, this is just one aspect of the college’s phenomenal resources. The Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques Center is always doing things that ensure everyone’s approach to inclusivity is the best that it can be. For instance, it regularly hosts events like the Access Vs. Inclusion workshops for student clubs and organizations. This approach means that Friendship Circle, Dealing with Different, The Atlantic, Dyslexic Advantage, College Xpress, Accredited Schools Online, College Magazine, Best Colleges Online and Prepscholar all rave over University of Arizona’s approach.
1. Landmark College
While both Landmark College and University of Arizona have recommendations from nine methodology sources, Landmark College is the only one to gain a first place ranking. College Magazine is the source that names the Landmark College the best college in America for students with learning disabilities. It ranks the college highly due to its emphasis on innovation, noting that its motto of “We learn differently” is adhered to at every opportunity. The college is exclusively for people with learning disabilities and finds the best possible ways to teach these students. The college has put innovation right at the heart of its current strategic plan. Its highest priority is to “identify and assess ambitious opportunities and innovations that could provide future growth and institutional transformation.”
Our full list of sources is as follows:
- Prepscholar, The 18 Best Colleges for Students With Learning Disabilities
- Best Colleges Online, 20 Incredible Colleges for Students With Special Needs
- College Magazine, Top 10 Best Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities
- College Magazine, Top 10 Campuses for Students with Physical Disabilities
- Very Well Health, A Guide to the Best Colleges and Universities for Disabled Students
- Accredited Schools Online, Higher Education for Students with Disabilities
- College Xpress, The Experts’ Choice: Colleges Where Learning-Disabled Students Succeed
- Dyslexic Advantage, The Best And Worst Colleges For Dyslexia
- The Atlantic, The Road to Higher Education With an “Invisible Disability”
- Dealing With Different, Best Colleges For The Physically Disabled? (We List 20)
- Friendship Circle, 17 Great Colleges for Students With Special Needs