Many young adults with intellectual disabilities have the same aspirations, goals, and desires as their peers and with support they can have the skills and abilities to go to college. In recent years, there has been a strong movement to have colleges and universities partner with schools to create programming for more diverse populations; including youth with disabilities. Currently, across the country, there are nearly 300 Institutes of Higher Education (IHEs) that officially support students with ID, including 4-year state and private universities and colleges, and community colleges. These IHEs have enjoyed their expanded diversity on campus and have experienced benefits for their whole community – students, faculty and staff.
A recent study found significantly increased employment and income among individuals with ID who had participated in postsecondary education. This research supports policy and program changes that would make postsecondary education more widely available to individuals with ID across the United States. In Maryland, we unfortunately have very few options for young adults with ID who have exited high school to attend college. The next decade will be a very exciting time as the range of options for postsecondary education for individuals with intellectual disabilities continues to grow. We are entering a new phase, when the questions on the table focus less on, “Should students with intellectual disabilities have the option to go to college?” and more on, “How can students with intellectual disabilities have college options?”
MD Hub for Inclusive Higher Education: UMD CTCI
The University of Maryland, Center for Transition and Career Innovation (CTCI) through funding from the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council, has established a state Hub for Inclusive Higher Education: The Maryland Hub for Inclusive Education. This hub offers resources, information, training and networking opportunities to support all the local school systems (LSSs) and Institutes of Higher Education (IHEs) in Maryland who would like to offer the opportunity to attend college to interested students with ID.
This Hub has the expertise and access to national experts to assist stakeholders in working through the process, overcoming barriers, sharing experiences with each other and connecting with campuses and school systems that have been doing this for years. The Hub will also host regional conferences and will offer general webinars and customized training upon request. Other states and regions who have a central entity for support have reported more successful programming and implementation outcomes. We would like to see this happen in Maryland!
Questions to Consider
- Have you considered college as a post-secondary option for your student?
- What options are available for students with Intellectual disabilities to attend college?
- What are goals that can be included on my student’s IEP to support their goal of attending college?