Lasell College's Austin adds that buildings erected before the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects the rights of disabled people, are often "grandfathered" in and aren't legally bound by the law.
"[T]hat information may not be evident on websites," she says. "[M]any older institutions in the Northeast are difficult to navigate for individuals with mobility challenges."
3. Don't confuse high school and college: Just because high schools accommodated a disability doesn't mean colleges will, even if you specify it in your application, says Matthew Kandel, manager of the online company, Newcastle Tutors, who has worked with many disabled students.
"Students need to proactively contact the office of disabled services at their school and provide ample documentation of the disability in order to receive services," Kandel says.
Tiedemann agrees that applicants shouldn't use high school as a reference for college.
"Parents and students are almost invariably unaware of how much more responsibility is placed upon a college student. And most students do not leave for college with experience in hiring aides to help them get showered [and] dressed," she says. "If they haven't prepared in high school for this, they are sunk."
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4. Advocate for yourself: Corbb O'Connor, who graduated from George Washington University in December 2010, has been blind since birth, which meant he couldn't see professors' PowerPoint slides during class. If professors E-mailed the files to him ahead of time, which most were happy to do, O'Connor was able to view the images roughly if he enlarged them on his laptop, though he wasn't able to see them projected on a screen in front of the class.
One professor refused to share slides, O'Connor says, because he didn't own the image copyrights. "He wouldn't believe me that the law says that if you are going to show [materials] to sighted students, you have to find a way to show them to your blind students, too," O'Connor says.
It can, however, be a challenge to stand up to professors. "Who wants to basically threaten legal action against a person who is going to be determining your grade in a class that you haven't even started yet? Talk about first impressions," O'Connor says.
But being aggressive paid off for him. He worked with GW's General Counsel and it took an entire semester, but the professor finally shared the slides.
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