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Improvement for college students with Intellectual Disabilities.

How it enables them succeed and lead an independent and productive life.

There has been a great improvement to the inclusiveness and learning for college students with intellectual disabilities (e.g. Down syndrome, Autism, developmental delay, brain injury) since changes were made in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008. This was brought about by the realization that any post secondary education improves the life chances of people with intellectual disabilities.

One of the colleges leading the way in inclusiveness of students with intellectual disabilities is the University of Iowa with its REACH (Realizing Education And Career Hopes) program. They have devised a good living and learning environment for their students, helping support the students transition to college and helping them overcome the challenges of campus life.

They have opened more opportunities for the students in campus and assigned mentors. This has helped students with intellectual disabilities to adjust to college in a similar way as other students in aspects like self acceptance, personal growth, having a purpose in life and being independent.

In many parts of the country, most of the efforts on behalf of students with intellectual disabilities focused on preparing the student for vocational training, employment and independence.

However, more colleges have improved access to students with disabilities after the encouragement from the National Council on Disability following the passing of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004.

Studies have shown that attending college has improved employment opportunities and sense of independence for students with intellectual disabilities.

More students are now able to enroll in colleges with a Comprehensive Transition Program Status as defined by the Higher Education Act of 2008 and are now able to apply for Federal Assistance like Pell Grants, Federal Work Study programs and Federal Supplemental Education Grants.

The Federal Government also funds the Transition Program For Students With Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) to assess the effectiveness of inclusiveness towards people with Intellectual Disabilities.

The University of Iowa REACH program is one such program and it aims to provide Students with Intellectual Disabilities a comprehensive and inclusive college experience that prepares them to become independent and productive adults. It emphasizes improvement in student life, academics and career development. They support a conducive living and learning environment that improves academics, self management, self advocacy, communication and interpersonal skills.

On campus living for students with intellectual disabilities is similar to those of other students. They are however required to follow procedures intended to promote safety like signing in every evening and being in the residence hall by a certain time. They are also assigned a mentor to help with their social adjustment.

The students are encouraged to explore new things and participate in campus events such as theater, social events, student clubs and sports.

This support and inclusive environment has shown that Students with intellectual disabilities can thrive and succeed in college just as much as other students.


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