While ordinary students consider school rankings, location, and cost matter when choosing a college, individuals with disabilities must consider whether or not the school provides adequate accommodation and assistance. By choosing the proper institution, students with disabilities can defy the odds in their academic journey and maximize their career potential.
The 1990 American Disabilities Act (ADA) protects students with disabilities from discrimination on any campus. To date, only 33% of US universities accept students with identified disabilities!
Related Article: The Top 25 Happiest Colleges in 2021
Table of Contents
- FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
15 BEST DISABILITY FRIENDLY COLLEGES IN 2021
- Ball State University
- University of Arizona
- Cornell University
- Harvard University
- University of California, Berkeley
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Ohio State University
- Duke University
- Missouri State University
- Arizona State University
- Indiana University Bloomington
- Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
- University of Wisconsin
- University of Denver
- Florida State University, Tallahassee
- WRAPPING UP
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Which US colleges offer the best programs for students with disabilities?
The esteemed disability-friendly colleges on our list, sourced from the IPED database of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), keep a track record for welcoming individuals with special needs. However, a college’s popularity among people with disabilities does not guarantee academic excellence. These colleges excel in terms of graduation rate, student-to-faculty ratio, and supportive academic atmosphere at every stage of learning. Check out our list below!
What type of disabilities do colleges accommodate?
These institutions go above and beyond the basic standards of addressing their students’ physical needs, providing special accommodation, and offering student-specific resources to students with learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), visual and hearing impairment, and more. The colleges on this list may or may not offer or allow service animals.
What accommodations are available for students with disabilities in college?
Reputable schools that are disability-friendly provide many services to accommodate their students, depending on their disability. Obviously, most public buildings provide wheelchair accessibility already; however, if you are staying on-campus, you will want to verify that your dorm room is handicap-ready. Other services are also available, such as note-takers, interpreters, and assisted-listening devices. In addition, some schools offer alternative materials printed in Braille or large print.
Do you have a service animal? Check with your school to see if they allow them before you sign on! Also, your college is not required to provide services that focus on your personal care, such as help with eating, dressing, or toileting. They do not provide wheelchairs, glasses, or hearing aids… so, come prepared! For more information, check out the ADA.gov website.
Let us help you find the best school programs that fit your educational requirements for starting a new career, a job promotion, or simply meeting your personal goals. Our researchers at PremiumSchools.org utilize these indicators of excellent academic standards to locate exceptional disability-friendly school programs designed just for you.
The following schools are listed in random order. As each and every school displays its own unique qualities and strengths, you should search our list based on your needs and career aspirations.
The following factors were considered:
- Offers on-campus, online or hybrid classes for flexible or convenient attendance without compromising hands-on training, while maintaining disability friendly access to all areas,
- Exhibits rigorous, yet engaging and innovative training in the field of desired coursework that takes into account the readiness of students in taking the next step to their budding career,
- Taught by outstanding faculty consisting of experts in the field, and who understand the needs of the disabled student,
- Held in high esteem among academic agencies, industry organizations, and journalistic resources,
- Displays stellar reviews and feedback from school alumni and students,
- Offers a convenient application process,
- Provides exceptional Student Career Centers, Resource Departments, and easy-to-use Learning Management Systems, where applicable, as well as resources for disabled students,
- Permits a wide range of scholarships, grants, and other financial support programs for eligible students,
- Ensures the proper Accreditation in accordance with academic standards.
If you would like to learn more about our selection process, feel free to see our Methodology page!
15 BEST DISABILITY FRIENDLY COLLEGES IN 2021
Ball State University is home to nearly 22,000 students, consisting of 16,000 undergraduates with access to over 400 student-led clubs and organizations on campus.
The Ball State University maintains a welcoming campus, with accessible housing to wheelchair sports and attendant care. Adjustable chairs and tables in the classroom allow students to learn comfortably regardless of their disability. Ball State also provides on-campus transportation to and from classes that are both safe and convenient.
Students are assigned accommodation for living care based on their needs. If necessary, the institution can also assist students in finding local personal care attendants to assist them with everyday tasks such as cleaning, cooking, showering, and more.
Ball State University’s Office of Disability Services provides a treasure trove of services for students with impairments. With an image of several college students playing basketball from wheelchairs, their website says it all.
Aside from basketball, Ball State also provides a wheelchair for power soccer, a competitive sport in which two teams of only four players compete on a basketball court.
Ball State also promotes disability awareness throughout the general student body. The Alliance for Disability Awareness (ADA) was founded by students only. They seek to educate and raise awareness of individuals with disabilities.
They hold monthly meetings and annual events such as a lab open house to learn about adapted technology, a reading club, and intramural sports. Ball State also commemorates Disability Awareness Month in March by coordinating events and programs to encourage awareness. They usually invite prior speakers, including Marlee Matlin and Mark Zupan.
The Ball State University is known for several things, including:
- Adaptive computer technology
- Tables with adjustable heights
- Adaptive physical education
- Note-taking services, shuttles
- Push stick sparkling
- Housing accommodations
- Loaner wheelchairs
- Wheelchair repair
- Snow removal
Obtaining the necessary papers to prove a handicap is a vital step in receiving the necessary accommodations. Thanks to Ball State University, students with mobility issues should never have to worry again about fitting in, thanks to Ball State University!
Students at the University of Arizona have access to a wide range of services and activities. During quarantine, one of their current support programs provides free food and lunches to students with disabilities.
The Nourishing Minds project and the campus food pantry are two other food-related services.
Students can participate in brief success programming while also receiving a hot meal as part of the campaign. Their website has a section for students preparing for college if they are unclear about what universities can offer to students with impairments.
Disabled students, unlike most students, frequently feel as if they are fighting an uphill battle to obtain basic accommodations. Their institution takes pride in having accessibility for all as its top priority. They do not believe that students have to go on a war for education individually. They see disabilities only as a diversity that everyone should see and reflect the same as other group minorities.
At the University of Alberta, their objective is for students with disabilities to have similar, if not identical, access to their classmates. They also aim to increase the number of professional positions focused on an on-campus design in building, renovation, and technology.
What the University of Arizona does is research history about disabilities. They aim to be one with them and let the community open better doors. They want to let students – especially those with LD – stand out, celebrate, and achieve everything they desire. When it comes to inclusion, this university prioritizes your needs and experiences as a student.
Cornell University comprises 14 colleges and schools, each with a curriculum, admission rules, faculty, and funding of its own.
This school features approximately 4,000 courses spanning 100 academic departments. It has approximately 100 majors, more than 85 minors, and more than a hundred graduate fields of study.
As a land-grant university, public service plays an important role in Cornell Academics. It allows students – average and with disabilities – to learn how ideas work in the actual world while also contributing to the enrichment of the community.
Student Disability Services at Cornell University collaborates with faculty, staff, and students to provide appropriate accommodations for students who require them. They have a friendly staff who will meet with students to discuss choices and personal access requirements.
If you are worried about safety, worry not at this university. They keep all of the student’s confidential disclosure documents on file. They also provide adaptive technology and other resources to ensure that students fully access all university activities.
They assist students in ensuring that their residence is handicapped-accessible. Transportation and mobility are not an issue as well. They provide transportation and counseling, and psychological services, which can be particularly beneficial when students with disabilities transition from high school to college.
All of Cornell’s libraries have substantial adaptive software. Disabled students can schedule sessions with staff to learn how to use it. A list of clubs and organizations that cater to students with disabilities can be found on Cornell’s website.
Apply to Cornell if you want to attend a university that is focused on your future job. They have a robust support structure in place to help students with impairments find internships or jobs.
The Project on Science, Technology and Disability assists STEM undergraduate and graduate students in finding paid internships. Even with disabilities, students can still contribute to research teams or engineering projects.
The Workforce Recruitment Program assists students with disabilities and recent graduates in obtaining summer internships or employment with the federal government.
Students with disabilities can intern or work at prominent companies like J.P. Morgan Chase, BMO, Barclays, National Grid, and more through Cornell’s New York Business Leadership Network.
For the leaders, Cornell offers Disability: NextGen Leaders, a one-on-one mentoring program that allows students to attend the Disability. Students will get the opportunity to network and interview with corporations such as JPMorgan Chase, Boeing, Facebook, and Microsoft at the conference.
There’s no doubt about Harvard professors, but have you considered their living quarters? The Local Student Disability Coordinator is one of the most unique features of their disability services (LDC). These student coordinators specialize in assisting students with impairments of all academic levels with housing issues.
The LDC, however, isn’t the only student-run support group. More students organizations make this university stand out:
- Student Mental Health Liaisons
- Raising Autism Awareness (HURAA)
- Eating Concerns Hotline and Outreach
- PBHA’s Deaf Awareness Club
- Under the Surface: Mental Health Magazine
The Deaf Awareness Club hosts weekly ASL social gatherings for members. They practice signing and volunteer at community events throughout Boston to build relationships.
Students can use Surface magazine to share their mental health stories. They can advocate for mental health and raise awareness among the Harvard community and beyond.
Berkeley’s accessible services focus on advocating for students, giving various student options, and providing health services. The Students Coalition for Disability Rights, ASUC Disabled Students Committee, and Spectrum: Autism at California are advocacy groups. The Disabled Students Committee of the ASUC works on accessibility and disability problems
Each of the four disability-related student organizations has two representatives in the group. One of the voting members from the ASUC Disabled Students Committee, Carlos Vazquez, favored the Committee for the Disability Town Hall event. This event was held on the campus to advocate and engage the community to assist students with disabilities. The event was a hit and surely made an impact on everyone who attended the said event.
The university will do everything possible to reach out to disabled students and hear their ideas, concerts, and experiences. Carlos Vasquez was impressed by how the school facilities impose a strong disability culture. This particular university can surely let everyone experience college the same with non-disabled students. After all, the school aims to motivate everyone and thrive in the community.
Aside from inspiring student activists, UC Berkeley offers a variety of services to students:
- Graduate and undergraduate University Health Services
- Counseling and Psychological Services
- Wellness Guides.
Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity students have meals prepared in the dining hall. The school also has lots of disabled housing alternatives to meet your needs. An ADA-compliant bathroom, a visual doorbell, an automated door opener, and increased space for medical equipment are among the house changes. The study abroad office also works with the Disabled Student Program to provide lodging and healthcare to students with disabilities studying abroad.
DRES is regarded as one of the best in assisting students with disabilities on college campuses. They’ve considered every potential stumbling block for students and done everything they can to find a solution.
Among the various athletic events that commemorate students with impairments, they have a Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team. They also take pleasure in providing the best transportation solutions for disabled students on any college campus.
They offer career counseling for students. Disabled students will receive their services as a unique provision. This should assist them in learning how to disclose their impairment in the job and obtain accommodations as easily as possible.
They also provide various housing options similar to those found on other campuses, many of which are top-notch, going above and beyond the fundamentals.
Today, UIUC is the #1 choice of many because of its comprehensive support for disabled students.
Beckwith Hall, which houses UIUC’s transitional disability management training program, transitioned from a “supply everything” strategy to empowering residents in 1994. Staffers, for example, still confirm references, do background checks, and train PCAs, but students interview and hire themselves.
A student with spinal muscular atrophy said that while she needed a lot of help, the school could still cater to her needs. Beckwith’s assistance and peers’ support were lifesavers for her. It is said that they had a strong bond.
The university encourages students with disabilities to be more self-sufficient. But rest assured that they will attend to the needs of their disabled students.
Before students make their final course choices, DRES assists them in considering the distance, location, and endurance. Employees map out travel routes, identify ramps, and keep track of elevator maintenance and outages.
During the winter, DRES ensures that students with disabilities are given top priority regarding snow removal.
It’s also impossible to overlook UIUC’s sporting programs.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: A History of Firsts:
- First to run a comprehensive post-secondary education program for people with significant physical disabilities.
- First-ever to have accessible transportation for average and students with mobility issues.
- First independent living facility for students with respiratory devices and personal assistants.
- First to have a rehabilitation fraternity: Delta Sigma Omicron.
- First to create a structured foreign study program for students with impairments.
- The first men’s and women’s collegiate wheelchair basketball teams, with varsity letters issued to wheelchair athletes.
The University of Illinois has proven to be a powerhouse for students – average and disabled on the job market. Nearly a third of America’s Fortune 500 firms actively recruit on campus. And more than 5,000 organizations have a presence at the University of Illinois.
Furthermore, it is the intellectual and academic home of 35,000 undergraduates and 11,000 graduate students. With over 1000 formal student clubs and dozens of Greek houses, student life in Urbana-Champaign is tremendously diverse.
Urbana-Champaign has grown into a bustling urban region. They are now nationally known for cultural offerings and prominent music scenes, thanks to their efforts.
Looking to join a slew of student organizations? Ohio State has compiled a comprehensive list of organizations that support and advocate for students with disabilities.
The Accessible Prosthetic Initiative aims to improve access to open-source prosthetic devices in marginalized populations through education, networking, and device distribution. They also do an outreach that can help those in need of prosthetics by donating their engineering skills or personal experience.
Disability Services, which is part of Student Life at Ohio State University, is available on campus. They are dedicated to striking a balance between cooperating with them to seek and get necessary accommodations and educating children to be successful self-advocates.
Some of the services the university offers are:
- Adaptive transportation
- Unique eating and lodging accommodations
- Accessible media
- Adaptive recreation
- Specific accommodations for students who desire to study abroad
Ohio State students live in a Learning Community that brings together students with similar majors and personal interests in the same residence hall.
All students have exclusive access to activities directly related to their academic progress through these tiny communities. This method helps develop partnerships with academic departments and instructors.
They also provide students with adapted devices such as Assistive Listening and software such as voice-to-text. Support accommodations are also available to graduate and professional students. Lab assistants will assist students with impairments.
The Disability Studies Graduate Student Association can help graduate students with disabilities feel included as well. The organization hosts networking events to gain a better understanding of disabilities studies and discover new opportunities.
When the organization fair begins, signing up for all of the email lists will make you feel like a celebrity. Buckeye Careers also caters to students with special needs. To prepare for your desired job, you may work with Wright Choice or speak with a College2Career counselor. At Ohio State, there is never a dull moment.
Do you wish you could go to games without having to worry about anything? Duke strives to ensure that all of its students have access to all areas of campus, including events. They give building maps, safe walking paths, and different forms of transit.
One of these is their paratransit service, which transports you around campus in wheelchair-accessible buses or vans. As you ride to class, you’ll feel like royalty.
Their website contains information on how to plan accessible events. It contains speaker guidelines, listening systems, audio-visual resources, finding interpreters, and analyzing a location for accessible pathways.
Apart from day-to-day mobility, Duke wants disabled students to be able to support their athletic teams. For each team, their athletic department compiled a list of parking and seating information. Spectators find the best seats in the house, too, when rooting for the Blue Devils!
Do you require the company of a four-legged companion? Duke also accepts service and emotional support animals, so don’t be concerned. With your friend by your side, you’ll feel ready to tackle college.
Missouri State University considers its accessibility services for students with disabilities regularly. They developed a Diversity and Inclusion strategy to represent better and accommodate people from all walks of life, including those with disabilities.
Studying the college’s inclusive environment and creating a climate study that highlights major challenges to improve the campus and programs is one of their plan’s key strategic points.
Faculty can access resources such as suggestions and simulations to help them better accommodate students with impairments. It includes instructional designers such as Blackboard Ally and FCTL Educational Designers, who provide instructional techniques and technical solutions.
Those services assess the course material’s accessibility. It converts it into accessible versions and advises on the best techniques for creating a fully adapted course.
A few of the on-campus initiatives that continue to advocate for students with disabilities are:
Several university departments make up the President’s Council on Disability, which focuses on monitoring, identifying, advising, and enhancing the university’s infrastructure, technology policies, academic services, and information for students with disabilities. Get engaged and help MSU continue to develop its long-term strategy.
The University of Arizona has about 33,300 undergraduate students. Many of their students live on campus in nearly two dozen residence halls, apartments, or living communities. Over 500 clubs and student organizations, such as club sports and groups for students with disabilities, are sponsored by the university.
Some of you may worry about the tuition fee – understandable. If you are cash-strapped but you don’t want money to hold you back, this may be the school for you. Over five different scholarships are available at ASU for students with disabilities.
The Bottar Leone Scholarship is named after the medical malpractice and personal injury attorneys of Bottar Leone PLLC. This scholarship provides $2,500 to incoming first-year students to help them adjust to college life.
These scholarships assist in defraying costs and allowing you to pursue your goals. They also lend out lab space, note-taking services, interpreters, and adaptable technology.
Each student is also assigned a disability access consultant. The consultants will be the ones to examine their condition, offer guidance, and argue for adjustments with the university.
Families and students are often shocked to learn that their disability access consultant will be a point of contact and support. This consultant can advocate for the student and teach those critical skills to advocate for themselves.
For both families and students, knowing the student has this link, someone with whom they can talk about their impairment and its impact, is reassuring. At ASU, you won’t have to fight alone for your comfort, access, or college experience.
Indiana University is the largest university in Indiana and one of the largest in the US. It is home to over 48,000 students, more than half of whom are from Indiana.
Furthermore, the university’s diverse student body includes students from all 50 states and more than 150 countries. Bloomington is a cultural touchstone with dozens of theaters and music venues, art locations, and events.
For more than two decades, Indiana University has been at the heart of the state’s academic, research, and cultural life. The university still has the best, the top-ranked programs in science, business, education, and the humanities. And with that, IU remains one of the most essential instructors for Indiana’s professionals and leaders in all professions and fields.
The humanities programs of Indiana University are also well-known. The Jacobs School of Music is affiliated with world-renowned universities such as Juilliard and Berklee College of Music. Its faculty includes some of the most well-known personalities in classical and jazz music.
Not only is IU best in those things, but the university is also one of the best disability-friendly colleges today. They give students with disabilities a chance to be a part of their success.
The Division of Student Affairs at Indiana University Bloomington is dedicated to serving students with disabilities. They think that all students deserve dignity and respect. They also practice giving equal access to all university resources and the ability for disabled students to make their own decisions. Taking your placement exam before starting school is a good way to start documenting your handicap.
They encourage high school juniors and seniors to visit the office for students with disabilities before enrolling in school. They believe that all students should be able to explore and learn about all of the options.
Students with disabilities can request a van service, and they can also consider other means of academic transportation. Assistive technology, accessible furniture, advice, and advocacy from coordinators, and even collegiate life coaching are just a few of them.
EUP, which is roughly 20 miles from Erie, Pa., provides a fantastic on-campus living program for disabled students. Fifty-four PCAs are on duty 24/7 on the first floors of Shaffer and Scranton halls.
Scranton’s mix, which includes non-disabled and disabled students and on-site assistance, is raking in approvals. You may quickly request assistance if you need something hauled out or set up.
The university is quite pleasant for students with learning or physical disabilities. The rooms are similar to normal dorm rooms, but they will provide whatever additional accommodations you require.
The range of services provided by the Academic Accessibility Service demonstrates the university’s commitment to students with disabilities:
- a facility for physical rehabilitation
- a recreation center with a full-time coach and a dedicated classroom for disabled students
- a fleet of specially modified vans that travel on and off-campus
- a wheelchair service center
- an occupational therapist and a rehabilitation nurse work in a life skills center
More than 80 individuals who work for the school have made the campus nearly completely accessible. The university has drivers, wheelchair maintenance technicians, lunch aides, academic aids, support staff, and recent improvements.
EUP has a robust wheelchair sports program, both varsity and intramural. The Rolling Scots is looking for new members. If you are not familiar with the Rolling Scotts, they are a varsity wheelchair sporting team that plays in university tournaments such as the Mid-Atlantic Games. Because you discovered you have powers you were unaware of, you may be able to travel to locations you never imagined. What’s on offer here is incredible.
The University of Wisconsin’s Madison campus is the crown gem of the university’s educational system. However, the Whitewater campus shines on its own. It would be irresponsible to profile one without the other.
As the system’s only Phd.-granting university, UW-Madison is better known for its academic programs than its disability services. Yet, the school has remarkable accommodations for disabled students.
UW-Madison, with its 900 acres of notoriously mountainous terrain, is intimidating to wheelers. Some students considered going to the Whitewater campus because of the easier access, but most of them are drawn by the master’s degree program.
Disabled students can navigate the hills in their power chairs on a nice day. However, the paratransit system is what allows students to continue their schooling during the winter.
McBurney Disability Resource Center at UW-Madison is another famous center from this school. Its peer mentor program, which is administered in collaboration with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, offers diverse educational seminars.
Here’s how it works at UW-Madison: McBurney creates a VISA plan for a student that outlines necessary accommodations. Students and teachers, directed by the VISA, negotiate the details early in each semester. If there are any issues, the student needs to go back to McBurney or let the professor phone them.
McBurney’s computerized reserve system, which eliminates trips to the library, is one useful feature. All course-related materials contributed by instructors, such as problem sets, notes, syllabi, past exams, and reading assignments, are accessible through the system.
The Board of Regents gave UW-Whitewater a particular mandate in 1973 to provide optimal services for students with disabilities. Combined with easy-to-meet entrance requirements, it is easier for certain students with impairments to get started. Later on, you can always transfer to UW-Madison.
The emphasis at UW-Whitewater is on the development of independent living and workplace skills, a method that has attracted DVR to recommend clients and feed grant money to the institution. Out of 10,500 students, some 75 are wheelchair users who roam the residence halls freely.
A campus physical therapist, rehabilitation nurse, and attendant services coordinator are among the services provided. Also, a paratransit service that runs seven days a week to support UW-work-experience Whitewater’s program. Just last 2019, before the pandemic, 95% of work-experience graduates found work, with another 3% continuing to graduate education.
The University of Denver, a private university with more than 11,800 students, has a student-to-faculty ratio of 11 to 1. It is a 125-acre institution situated in a residential neighborhood just minutes from downtown Denver, Colorado. Many of the school’s buildings date from the late 1860s, but they have since been rebuilt for modern comfort and safety.
First-and second-year students reside on campus. However, over 100 student clubs are selected, including 17 academic honor societies, eight fraternities, and nine sororities.
Eighty-four percent of Denver students receive financial aid, with scholarships and grants accounting for 75 percent of that aid. The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools has granted DU accreditation.
The Disability Services Program (DSC) at the University of Denver provides various free services to students with learning difficulties and special needs.
Services from the university for testing accommodations include:
- Extended durations and less distracting locations
- Alternate form texts
- Course substitutes and classroom modifications
- Assistance for the visually and hearing handicapped
UD also offers the Learning Effectiveness Program (LEP), a fee-based program. This program provides targeted academic support for University of Denver students with learning difficulties, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and a history of learning differences.
LEP also includes Individualized academic counseling, individual and subject-specific tutoring, and organization/time management aid.
FSU, situated in the capital city of Tallahassee, gathers 16 colleges and schools on one sunny, 455-acre campus. Many people are attracted by the university’s strong business program but praise its accessibility as well.
Most of the buildings have automatic doors. Everything is available, and if it isn’t, they will make it so, thanks to their Student Disability Resource Center. Everyone at SDRC goes above and beyond to assist you. Plenty has had positive encounters with the teachers here as well.
The university will work through the problems together in math and finance classes for students with disabilities. SDRC pays notetakers to get the information during lessons instead of relying on volunteer peers.
Aside from the Student Disability Resource Center, FSU also offers an Office of Accessibility Services.
It is interesting to browse their website because they have ample materials you can explore. Their purpose is to promote inclusion and access for all members of the university community.
They provide students the opportunity to partake in training that would qualify them as OAS ambassadors. Being an ambassador means that the students will advocate for disability rights on campus to let other people better understand student disabilities.
Students can request adjustments and submit their disability diagnosis documents through a gateway on their website. Every registered student in the system will have their login and password to handle their support resources and papers.
The school is sure to provide support for each student. Each student will have the privilege to use software and assistive devices, accessible lodging and accommodations, and additional test-taking provisions.
This center serves nearly 5,000 students and is an integral part of their fabric.
For any incoming student, college is a challenge. Imagine having to navigate this entirely new world while suffering from a disability.
While learning in each fast-paced college session, these students must find strategies to navigate class and seek accessible accommodations. Some universities go above and beyond to assist students with impairments in adjusting to college life.
The 15 universities listed above provide accessible dorms, classes, and transportation. They also engage the entire school community by pushing for awareness and inclusion of students with physical and learning disabilities.
Additional Information: Adults Returning To College: The Best Resources and Support