According to the United States Census, there are 2.7 million wheelchair users over the age of fifteen who will be attending college within the next few years. The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, has required universities and colleges located in the United States to meet specific standards. There are more than 4,000 wheelchair accessible universities located throughout the U.S. The list below is the best wheelchair accessible colleges to consider attending.
University of Arizona – Tucson, AZ
Warm temperatures and a flat campus encourage wheelchair users to flock to this university. In addition to the accessibility, the University of Arizona provides extensive career services, adaptive athletic programs, accessible residence halls and dorm rooms, plus accessible study abroad programs.
Stanford University – Stanford, CA
This university caters to the needs of students who are wheelchair users. They provide students with a special campus access guide with details about how to access buildings throughout the campus. In addition to the convenient guide, they also provide free transportation around campus via the DisGo Cart Service.
UC Berkeley – Berkeley, CA
This university proudly provides students with disabilities with unique services based on the needs of each student. In addition to this unique Disabled Students Program, UC Berkeley also provides accessible transportation on and off campus, a Disabled Students Residence Program and a campus access guide.
Hofstra University – Long Island, NY
This university is famous for their unique disabilities program. They offer academic and career coaching, assistive technology, accessible housing and a wheelchair-accessible transit system. In addition to all of these accommodations, the campus was specifically designed with wheelchair users in mind.
Edinboro University – Edinboro, PA
Wheelchair users often prefer to attend universities in warmer climates due to difficulty navigating through snow during winter. However, Edinboro University is worth the cold winters due to the unique accommodations. They campus is wheelchair-friendly and they offer a variety of beneficial programs, including the Assistive Technology and Life Skills.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Urbana, IL
This wheelchair-friendly university is famous for their exceptional wheelchair access. They are proud to be one of the first universities to implement an accessible bus system. They also have campus life support, plus accommodation and academic programs available for wheelchair users.
St. Andrews University – Laurinburg, NC
This university is considered one of the best in the south. It has specific programs to ensure wheelchair users have equal access to services, programs, facilities and resources.
Creating a Home Away from Home
Wheelchair users generally find it easier to live in dorms on or near campus due to close access. The universities listed above have gone above and beyond to make sure their students have suitable housing. Students are encouraged to arrange the furniture in their accessible dorm room to suit their needs perfectly. It is also wise to decorate the room with personal items to make it feel like home.
Creating a welcoming environment in the dorm room helps prevent homesickness. Most students become homesick during the first few weeks of their first semester. Wheelchair users especially feel less than comfortable due to their unique requirements. This is why it is important to choose the right university and campus for long-term needs.
University Campuses are generally very large. Students find themselves going from one side of the campus to the other a few times per day. The universities listed above have implemented convenient accessible transportation services to limit campus issues from arising.
Some wheelchair users have an accessible car to get them around town. Others prefer to use public accessible transportation such as buses and taxis. Students who have issues using public transportation should speak to their counselor for further assistance.
While most universities are required to have accessible laundry facilities, it still may become difficult to navigate in such a busy area. Wheelchair users who find it difficult should speak to their resident advisor for assistance. Some students prefer to use a laundry service that conveniently picks up and delivers loads of laundry for a small fee.
Choosing the Right University
The above list has excellent accessible universities to choose from. But, how do you choose the right one for you? Ask yourself the following questions to help guide you in the right direction.
- Do you prefer to live in a warm or cold climate?
- What are your transportation needs?
- Do you prefer to stay in a dorm on campus?
- Do you want an apartment off campus?
- Do you have easy access throughout the campus?
- Does the curriculum meet your needs?
- Does the university offer clubs related to your interests?
- Do you need to apply for loans, grants and financial aid to pay your tuition?
- Does the university accept your scholarship?
Living Off Campus Considerations
Students may prefer to live off campus at their parents or relatives house. This is suitable if you live nearby the campus and have dependable wheelchair accessible transportation. However, if you are living off campus in an apartment, you will want to choose a safe area in a nearby neighborhood with suitable transportation options.
Students who are seeking to further their education and attend a university are encouraged to find wheelchair accessible campuses and accommodations. Students will want to have a clear understanding of their dorm accommodations, campus access, transportation options, academic requirements and adaptable sports teams. Finding the university that suits your needs takes time. Be patient and carefully research each potential campus until you find the right one for you.