Understanding Their Disability is Fundamental Step for Students to Achieve Success in College

Written by: Mary Anne Steinberg Ph.D.

                     Heading off to college is something that many students (and their parents) dream about. Attending college has the ability to open doors to new experiences and provide opportunities that students just canít get in high school. And once that college degree is earned there are more career options available and college graduates have the ability to earn more money over their lifetimes than students who donít have a college degree. Doesnít all this sound marvelous? Of course it does, itís part of the American Dream! But in order for this to happen, students need to: 1) go to college, 2) pass their college classes and 3) actually graduate from college.

Research states that only 73% of students with disabilities enroll in higher education (compared to 84% of their peers without disabilities), and of those 73% who go, only 28% receive diplomas from 4-year colleges (Institute for Higher Education Policy, 2004).

So the BIG question is what can we do to help increase the odds that students with disabilities will succeed and graduate from college? Well, there are actually many things we can do.

  • Help students understand their disability and how it impacts their learning
  • Ensure they are comfortable talking about these things to other people (professors, disability resource offices)
  • Understand what services they are entitled to under the law in college versus what they received in high school
  • Share what accommodations worked best for them and why they worked

As part of being able to express their needs academically, students need to understand what strategies and tools have helped them become successful learners. One tool that many of todayís students use constantly over the course of the day is technology. Letís face it, our students are ďconnectedĒ to their devices at all times! Heck most of them sleep with their cell phones in or near their beds! So why not use technology as a tool to improve student learning?

A specific educational tool that students with disabilities may find helpful as they head off to college is Kurzweil 3000. With this educational technology, students can have their textbooks, webpages, and other print based materials read aloud to them. It also contains tools that can assist students with study skills and the writing process. With kurzweil 3000+firefly, students pursuing higher education, can learn alongside their peers, achieve success independently and learn at their own pace.

Watch to learn how kurzweil 3000+firefly can be used as an effective tool to both prepare students for college and improve retention rates once they get there.

About the Guest Blogger

                     Mary Anne Steinberg Ph.D.
University of Florida

Mary Anne has over twenty years of experience in general and special education. She taught for over ten years in Levy County, Florida, where she co-implemented the first inclusion classroom. She then spent another 10 years providing professional development to educators in FL on reading and language arts with a focus on improving literacy education for students with special needs. Since 2008 Mary Anne has been at the University of Florida.


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