The Best Accessible Colleges in America

Finding the right college or university when you have a disability can be a daunting and overwhelming task, but don't fret! We've collected six of the best, most accessible schools here. The overall accessibility of the campus can be the driving force for a student's ultimate satisfaction in their college experience. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has helped relieve a lot of worries, but it is important to know what awesome opportunities are available for those students with disabilities to maximize their college experience. Many colleges provide academic assistive programs, personal care assistants, transportation, and even adaptive sports teams!

University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign — Champaign, IL

Best University for Accessibility

A University of Illinois graduate with her mother at the Alma Mater sculpture, a well-known icon of the university campus. Photo used with permission from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

When it comes to overall college experience, the University of Illinois is one of the top universities to attend. The school is renowned for having one of the most accessible campuses in the world. The Disability Resources & Education Services (DRES) provides a number of different services to enhance a student's experience at the university. DRES provides career development programs, learning disability specialists, transportation services, and accessible living accommodations. The University of Illinois also provides adaptive sports opportunities in men's and women's basketball and track. The University of Illinois is one of the most advanced and experienced colleges when it comes to dealing with students with disabilities.

University of Illinois Disability Resources & Education Services

University of Arizona — Tucson, AZ

Best University for Adaptive Sports Programs

A student at the University of Arizona playing wheelchair tennis Photo courtesy of the University of Arizona Disability Resource Center

The Disability Resources department at the University of Arizona is a proactive group in creating a universal design for learning to eliminate the need for individual classroom accommodations (universal design is the idea of making all environments inclusive and inherently accessible to as many people as possible). The Disability Resource Center houses an adaptive fitness center, student lounge, and exam administration office on-site. The Adaptive Athletics Program is the largest in the country, with six competitive teams. On the scale of accessibility, the University of Arizona ranks near the top for removing potential barriers for students who use a wheelchair.

University of Arizona Disability Resources

University of Alabama — Tuscaloosa, AL

Best University for Wheelchair Basketball

The University of Alabama women's wheelchair basketball team

The Office of Disability Services at the University of Alabama will work to provide personalized academic accommodations to suit the needs of the individual. They provide services such as alternative textbooks and personal student note-takers. The University of Alabama is also a great place for people looking for adaptive sports. Alabama is home to the 2017 Nationals Champions for both men's and women's wheelchair basketball. The Alabama wheelchair tennis program also recently won their third national championship title. For those students looking for the complete student-athlete experience, the University of Alabama is definitely worth consideration.

University of Alabama Disability/Accommodations Issues

University of California, Berkeley — Berkeley, CA

Best University for Higher Education

University of California, Berkeley clocktower

For students on the west coast, the Berkeley Disabled Students' Program serves to create a barrier-free environment for students with disabilities. UC Berkeley provides a number of different transportation services to help ease campus navigation. The Loop is a golf cart transportation service specifically in place for students with mobility impairments. On-board staff at UC Berkeley includes disability specialists, professional development counselors, and accessibility experts that work with students with disabilities throughout their educational career. UC Berkeley is an excellent option for students looking to get a prestigious education without the worry of accessibility problems.

University of California, Berkeley Disabled Students' Program

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania — Edinboro, PA

Best University for Living Accommodations

Ross Hall on Edinboro University of Pennsylvania's campus "File:Ross Hall.jpg" by Sajib.cse.buet is licensed with CC BY-SA 4.0.

With 40 years of experience serving students with disabilities, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania is an excellent option when it comes to all-around college experience. Edinboro is a major advocate for universal design and continues to strive for the most accessible environment for all. The office for students with disabilities offers a number of accommodations to ease your college experience. Attendant Care program, life skills center, van transportation, and testing accommodations are just a few examples of the services provided at Edinboro. A variety of diversity scholarships, specifically for students with disabilities, are available through Edinboro University to help make college more affordable.

Edinboro University of Pennsylvania Office for Students with Disabilities

Cleveland State University — Cleveland, OH

Most Affordable University

Main Classroom Building at Cleveland State University

This is a great option for students seeking an affordable education. Cleveland State's in-state tuition of around $10,000 provides a great affordable option. The disability services can provide individualized accommodations for each student's needs. Cleveland State also offers Health & Wellness services, a counseling center, and testing services.

Cleveland State University Office of Disability Services

For most, attending college is their first experience of living independently. This is a major step for all students. Narrowing down what criteria is most important for you will help you make the best decision. Whether you need extra attendant care or you want a school with an adaptive sports program, there is a college/university out there that is the perfect fit for you!

About the Author

Brett Gravatt

Brett Gravatt graduated from Penn State with a degree in Communication Arts and Science. He recently began working as a sports advisor for IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Brett is also a U.S. Paralympic athlete in wheelchair track.

Brett's ride is a Quickie 7R

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Date: 8/29/2017 12:00:00 AM

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