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skills and abilities of postsecondary ceived about $6,000 in financial aid an- dropped out of high school prior to faculty and administrators.
nually. Financially independent stu- graduation (NCES, 1999a). Prior reIncreasing access to postsecondary dents with disabilities, however, were search has shown that up to a third of education is vital for improving the more likely to rely on federal aid than all students receiving special educaemployment and quality-of-life out- nondisabled students. The NPSAS find- tion services drop out of high school comes of students with disabilities. The ings suggest that undergraduates with (Hebbler, 1993; US Department of Edpurpose of this article is threefold: (1) to disabilities rely to a greater extent on ucation, 1994). In particular, secondary summarize and discuss current re- federal aid and assistance than do those students with learning disabilities, search focusing on postsecondary stu- without disabilities, particularly the emotional disturbances and mental redents with disabilities; (2) to examine majority of those who reported finan- tardation demonstrated particularly emerging challenges for improving the cial independence. It is important to high dropout rates (Cameto, 1993; postsecondary experiences of students note that the 1995-1996 NPSAS design Newman, 1991). Of students receiving with disabilities; and (3) to discuss could not account for the extent to special education services, only 27 perpromising practices that are helping which undergraduates received finan- cent enrolled in postsecondary educastudents with disabilities to succeed in cial assistance from disability-specific tion after high school as compared to postsecondary settings.
federal and state programs such as Sup- 68 percent of students without dis
plemental Security Income (SSI), So- abilities. Only 4 percent of students Postsecondary Students with cial Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) with disabilities had enrolled in a 4Disabilities--National Data and VR.
year college. Students with disabilities
In terms of academic preparedness, who therefore stayed in high school, According to the 1995-1996 National analyses of the National Education Lon- graduated, and were adequately prePostsecondary Student Aid Study gitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:98/94) pared for a 4-year college were indeed (NPSAS), roughly 6 percent of students showed that most high school students an exceptional group. enrolled in postsecondary education with disabilities were not ready for a 4reported having some type of disability year college education. As compared to Services and Accommodations (NCES, 1999a). Of these, almost 30 per- 37 percent of students without discent indicated that they had a learning abilities, 57 percent of students with A Postsecondary Education Quick Indisability. Other disabilities reported disabilities who completed high school formation Survey (PEQIS) conducted beincluded 23 percent with orthopedic in 1994 were not qualified according to tween 1996 and 1998 generated imporimpairments, 16 percent with hearing their performance as ranked by GPA, tant information regarding the impairments or deafness, 16 percent senior class rank, SAT/ACT scores, accommodations, services, and supwith visual impairments that could not and aptitude testing (p. 30). Further, ports provided to students with disbe corrected with glasses, and 3 per- students with disabilities who were at abilities in 2- and 4-year postsecondary cent with speech impairments. Twenty- least minimally qualified for a 4-year institutions (NCES, 1999b). In addition, one percent of the students reporting college or university program were sig- PEQIS yielded data focusing on outdisability indicated that they had nificantly less likely to participate in reach activities, technology planning "other" health-related disabilities. these programs when compared and collaboration between postsecMales with disabilities were more likely to nondisabled students with similar ondary institutions and VR agencies. to enroll in postsecondary education academic potential. Qualified under- This section will discuss the services than females, and whites with disabil- graduates with disabilities instead fre- and accommodations provided to stuities were more often represented than quently veered toward 2-year postsec- dents with disabilities across postsecblacks or Hispanics. As a diverse whole, ondary programs rather than 4-year ondary institutions nationally. students with disabilities tended to be college and university programs In contrast to the NPSAS, the PEQIS older and participated more often in (p. 34). Policy implications of these find- data provided institutional enrollment 2-year rather than 4-year postsecondary ings will be discussed in a later estimates of students with disabilities, programs (NCES, 1999a). section.
and these estimates varied by data colStudents with disabilities were less Considering the heterogeneous pop- lection methods. For example, some inlikely to depend on income from par- ulation of students with disabilities ex- stitutions based their counts on disents or other family members than iting secondary education, it should ability verification, and others on the nondisabled students (NCES, 1999a). be noted that the NELS sample did not provision of services and accommodaAbout half of the financially depen- include some students with significant tions. All PEQIS responses, however, dent undergraduates with disabilities disabilities who were determined in- were contingent upon the student rereported receiving some type of finan- appropriate for this survey. Also ex- porting his or her disability to the postcial aid, and this finding was not sta- cluded were another 10 percent of stu- secondary institution rather than tistically different from that of students dents with disabilities who were once through an anonymous survey. And, without disabilities. Both groups re- part of the NELS sample but later while the NPSAS estimate of students
with disabilities in postsecondary in- costs and consumer employment out the rate consumers who did not restitutions was 6 percent (NCES. 1999a), comes will be described, as well as serv- ceive such training. the PEQIS estimate was much ices and training provided to postsec- Many VR consumers receive servsmaller-only 3 percent or 428,000 stu- ondary students who were also VR ices in addition to college and univerdents (Lewis & Farris, 1999). Still, consumers.
sity training. For VR consumers who rePEQIS provided important data re
ceived college and university training, garding how institutions respond to Rehabilitation and
Table 2 shows the percentages of other the needs of students with disabilities in Postsecondary Education
services and training types received postsecondary settings.
through the VR program. Consumers Given an array of options, PEQIS re- Using 1998 data from the 911 case- receiving college and university trainspondents were asked to identify those load database (RSA, 1999), Table 1 ing also often received assessment servservices, accommodations and supports shows the numbers of VR consumers ices (87.4%). As shown by PEQIS data that were provided to students during who exited the program after receiv- (Lewis & Farris, 1999), 84 percent of the academic school year. For all post- ing college and university training, postsecondary institutions required secondary institutions, 88 percent re- costs of purchased services for such some type of verification of disability ported that alternative exam formats training and employment outcome for receiving disability support servor additional time was provided. This rates. College and university training ices and 77 percent accepted VR evalaccommodation was the most fre- included all academic coursework be- uations for eligibility purposes. Sevquently reported among all 2- and 4- yond high school and may cover tu- enty-five percent of college and year institutions. Other commonly pro- ition, support services and other ex- university VR consumers also received vided accommodations and services penses. As shown, average costs varied substantial counseling services. Other included tutors to assist with ongoing widely across agencies. The District of research shows that students with dishomework (77%); readers, classroom Columbia, Georgia, Maine, and Ohio abilities were more likely to receive notetakers or scribes (69%); registra- agencies reported costs that averaged tion assistance or priority class regis- over $10,000 per consumer. As groups, students (Horn & Bertold, 1999), and tration (62%); adaptive equipment and average college and university train- VR consumers in postsecondary edutechnology (58%); textbooks on tape ing costs for blind agencies and those in cation appeared to receive these serv(55%); and sign language inter- U.S. territories were substantially ices at even higher rates. Maintenance preters/transliterators (45%). In gen- higher than others, averaging about (26.3%), restoration (28.7%) and other eral, public 2-year and 4-year institu- $14,000. On the opposite end of the services (32.7%) were often provided. tions were more likely to report spectrum, average costs for states such Job-finding and placement services providing these accommodations and as California, Oregon and Texas were were also frequently provided (27.5% services than comparable private insti- below $3,000 per consumer. This vari- and 21.1%), while on-the-job training tutions. Those postsecondary institu- ation may be influenced by a number of was relatively rare for this population tions with larger student enrollments factors such as differing tuition costs, fi
factors such as differing tuition costs, fi (4.5%). Notably, relatively few VR conwere also more likely to report the pro- nancial aid systems and consumer char- sumers (3.6%) received personal assistvision of accommodations and serv- acteristics.
ance services such as reader assistance, ices, and this finding was not surprising Employment outcome rates shown personal attendants and interpreter given that students with disabilities in Table 1 also vary considerably. As a services. tended to enroll more often in larger group, rates in U.S. territories such as colleges and universities.
Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Future Challenges The accommodations and services and America Samoa were unusually reported in PEQIS did not describe the high at 94.4 percent. Utah and Alabama By the year 2006, the U.S. Bureau of extent to which students with disabili- also had relatively high employment Labor Statistics (1999) projected that 18 ties access these services. That is, ac- outcome rates, 80 percent and 81 per- of the top 25 occupations with the commodations and supports were re- cent respectively. States such as Cali- largest and fastest employment growth, ported from an institutional perspective fornia and Oregon, conversely, re- high pay and low unemployment will rather than on an individual basis. Also, ported rates as low as 41 percent and 43 require at least a bachelor's degree. while PEQIS data showed that 60 per- percent. The high rates reported by These occupations will consist mostly cent of postsecondary institutions re- outlying areas may be influenced to of jobs in the areas of healthcare, comported collaborating with VR agencies, some extent by differing reporting pro- puter technology and education. In adthe nature and scope of coordinated cedures and fewer consumers per dition, it is anticipated that labor force activities is still unclear. The next sec- agency. Even with these differences, groups with lower than average edution will focus on the interface between the mean rate for consumers receiving cational attainment will continue to exVR programs and postsecondary edu- college and university training was 60 perience obstacles toward obtaining cation. In particular, state VR agency percent and this was comparable to jobs with higher pay. While nearly two
thirds of future jobs will require less than an associates or bachelor's degree, these jobs provide the lowest pay and benefit options. Many of these future occupations will provide pay below the poverty threshold (CPS, 1999). Given this scenario, postsecondary education opportunities will be of vital importance for all future job seekers, particularly those with disabilities.
Postsecondary education is critically important for the development of tomorrow's work force. When controlling for sociodemographic, SSI participation, vocational rehabilitation, and other factors, Berry (1999) found that postsecondary education more than tripled the odds of achieving an employment outcome when compared to individuals with disabilities who failed to complete 12 years of education. Also, as discussed by Schmidt, Kay, Davis, and Hayward in this issue, VR consumers who earn 2- or 4-year postsecondary degrees are more likely to achieve employment outcomes and have higher earnings than consumers with less than a high school education.
Postsecondary education is key for better careers and futures among individuals with disabilities, and there are many challenges that need to be addressed in order to increase access to and success in colleges and universities. Among these challenges, interagency coordination, universal design, and transition planning for students with disabilities are particularly important for helping prepare students with disabilities to gain access to postsecondary education and employment success.
Interagency coordination. The debate between postsecondary institutions and state VR agencies regarding which party should take primary responsibility for the payment of auxiliary aids for postsecondary students who are also VR clients has been long and heated. The history of this controversy has its roots in statute, regulations and case law.
As mentioned, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires postsecondary institutions, as recipients of federal financial assistance, to make their programs accessible to students
with disabilities. This accessibility is the shoulders of postsecondary insti- first glance the term almost seems inoften accomplished through the provi- tutions. Others believed that the pre- compatible with the individually desion of auxiliary aids and services, in- vious court decisions still held, and signed accommodations that have typcluding interpreter services, which can that state VR agencies should continue ically been recommended for students be costly. In an effort to conserve lim- to share the costs associated with the with disabilities. ited state VR dollars, state VR agencies provision of auxiliary aids and services The term "universal design" refers to initially used the "comparable services for their clients.
the design of environments and prodand benefits provisions” of the Reha- In order to promote improved col- ucts, in this case postsecondary curricbilitation Act of 1973 to limit VR fund- laboration, the Rehabilitation Act of ula, in such a way as to ensure that ing for the auxiliary aids needed by 1973 was amended in 1998 to include a they are usable by as many people as their clients who were students in post- compromise provision that was con- possible, including people with dissecondary institutions. These provi- tained in Section 101(a)(8)(B) of the act. abilities. The term has its origins in sions required state VR agencies assist This provision required each state's architecture, where it was used most their clients in locating and utilizing governor, in consultation with the state commonly to describe designs that purbenefits and services from other sources VR agency and other appropriate agen- posefully incorporated, rather than comparable to those offered by VR cies, to develop an interagency agree- added as an afterthought, assistive techagencies, prior to expending VR pro- ment or other mechanism for intera- nologies and adaptations to accommogram funds.
gency coordination to ensure the date physical access for individuals This practice was called into ques- provision of VR services to eligible in- with disabilities (Orkwis & McLane, tion in the early 1980's by a number of dividuals with disabilities. Institutions 1998). The Center for Applied Special court decisions and a 1981 opinion of- of higher education are specifically Technology (CAST) identified three fered by the Department of Education's named as one of these appropriate principles that are essential to universal Office of the General Counsel (OGC). agencies. Other named entities included curriculum design. These principles Both the judicial findings and the OGC Medicaid and the work force invest- include the provision of multiple repopinion concluded that the comparable ment system. The interagency agree- resentations of key information to acservices and benefits provisions of the ments must contain a provision for de commodate a variety of student learnRehabilitation Act of 1973 (sections termining the financial responsibility ing preferences and needs, multiple 101(a)(8), 101(a)(12) and 103(a)(3)] did of each public entity providing VR serv- options for students to control and not categorically prohibit state VR agen- ices. Simply stated, this new provision demonstrate their learning and multicies from paying for postsecondary stu- was designed to help resolve the dis- ple options for student engagement dent's auxiliary aids, if the student's agreements between institutions of and motivation (1998). For contact inindividualized written rehabilitation higher education and state VR agen- formation on CAST, see the Resource program (IWRP) called for such auxil- cies, on a state-by-state basis, concern- List at the end of this article. The priniary aids and postsecondary training ing which agency is responsible for fi- ciples behind universal design have (U.S. Department of Education, Office nancing services for postsecondary spread from architecture to areas such of Special Education and Rehabilita- students who are also VR consumers. as product development, communicative Services, 1999; PEPNet, 1999). Fur- Given this legislative context, the extent tions and information technologies. thermore, the OGC opinion encour- to which disagreements are minimized More recently, universal design prinaged the determination of payment will ultimately result from the collabo- ciples have been applied to the design responsibility between postsecondary rative interactions (and compromises) of elementary and secondary educainstitutions and VR agencies to be made between these important entities. tional curricula. on a case-by-case basis, with each case Universal curriculum design. The Following the passage of the IDEA taking into consideration such things as PEQIS study reported that 2- and 4- Amendments of 1997, the Office of Spethe necessity of the service for the stu- year colleges and universities are pro- cial Education Programs (OSEP), Ofdent to attain an employment objec- viding many individually designed ac- fice of Special Education and Rehabiltive, the VR agency's order of selection commodations, services and supports itative Services (OSERS), began a of individuals for services and the costs for postsecondary students with dis- concerted effort to facilitate the appliof such services. Thus, a wide variety of abilities (Lewis & Farris, 1999). One cation of universal design principles to payment agreements were negotiated area not addressed in the PERIS, how- help students with disabilities gain full between state and local VR agencies ever, was the extent to which faculty at access to the general education curand postsecondary institutions. postsecondary institutions were using riculum. As a result of this effort and
The passage of ADA in 1990 rekin- curriculum that incorporate universal the work of dedicated researchers and dled this debate. Some believed that design principles as a means to ac- innovative curriculum and software the ADA had altered the status quo commodate students with disabilities. developers, K-12 classrooms across to place the entire responsibility for This concept is relatively new to the the country are beginning to use learnfunding auxiliary aids and services on field of postsecondary education and at ing materials and activities that incor
porate universal design principles. Ex- ning for these college-bound students Furney, 1997). One major area of conamples include textbooks with built- may have been insufficient. Early and cern identified in this study was the in flexibility and software with multiple effective transition planning for all lack of meaningful student involvemeans of representation (Orkwis & students with disabilities can help ment in transition planning. For examMcLane, 1998).
them prepare adequately to enter and ple, few schools in this study reported Like curb cuts and revolving doors, succeed in postsecondary education using promising practices, such as stuuniversally designed learning materials if this is their choice.
dent-centered planning or student-led have the potential to benefit many di- A number of new provisions con- IEP meetings, to facilitate student inverse learners, not just learners with tained in the IDEA Amendments of volvement in transition planning (Ibid, disabilities. Diverse learners, includ- 1997 helps to support this type of tran- 1997). This type of involvement, aling those with cultural barriers and sition planning. For example, IDEA though important for all students with those who speak English as a second now requires that beginning at age 14, disabilities, is particularly important language, represent a substantial pro- or earlier if appropriate, a student's for students planning to attend postportion of the entire learning popula- IEP must include a statement of the secondary education. Once on campus, tion. As these diverse learners enter student's transition services needs that students with disabilities typically need postsecondary education in greater focus specifically on the student's to advocate for their own services and numbers, faculty should be cognizant courses of study. The purpose of this accommodations. Thus, high schools of universal design principles in order provision is to help students and their should take advantage of every opto better address the learning needs of families, in collaboration with school portunity to promote the self-determiall students.
personnel, begin planning earlier for nation of college-bound students with This may be a more difficult task than their high school course work (such disabilities. One such opportunity can it is in K-12 education, however, simply as participation in advanced-place- be found in good transition planning. because postsecondary faculty have ment courses or a vocational educa- When a student is accepted to a postgreater autonomy in selecting their text- tion program). This early planning secondary institution, he or she may books and materials; and because uni- should help to ensure that students find it helpful to include in the transiversal curriculum design is a new con- with disabilities wishing to attend tion planning someone from that insticept in higher education, faculty must postsecondary education have all of tution's services for students with disbecome knowledgeable about the ben- the prerequisite academic course work abilities and/or financial aid office. This efits of using this type of curriculum needed for admission to the college is important because many colleges and with a wide variety of learners. or university of their choice.
universities require documentation of a Beginning in October 1999, the U.S. Other new provisions of the IDEA disability in order to provide services Department of Education's Office of amendments, while not specifically and accommodations to students with Postsecondary Education (OPE) funded tied to transition planning are also im- disabilities. Good transition planning in a number of model projects designed to portant for students with disabilities high school should help students and incorporate the principles of universal considering education beyond high their families acquire the up-to-date ascurriculum design into training and school. These provisions place in- sessments that are required to receive materials for postsecondary faculty to creased emphasis on student involve- such services after admission. Morehelp them better accommodate the ment and progress in the general edu- over, effective transition planning will learning needs of students with dis- cation curriculum and they require help college-bound students with disabilities. Products from these projects regular education teacher participa- abilities and their families in considershould be available within the next few tion in the development, review and ing the financial implications of higher years. For more information on these revisions of IEPs. Additional new education, including tuition and living projects and other OSERS funded pro- IDEA provisions require students with costs, financial aid, scholarships, and jects that are working on universal cur- disabilities to participate in state and work-study opportunities. And as menriculum design, contact OPE (see the district-wide assessments of achieveResource List at the end of this article). ment. Each of these new provisions to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 will re
Transition planning. Since 1990, the may help students with disabilities to quire education and VR agencies to colplanning and provision of transition better prepare for the complexity and laborate in order to improve postschool services for students with disabilities, rigor of postsecondary education. options, including financial assistance 16 years and older (or younger if Although these new IDEA provisions opportunities. deemed appropriate by the IEP team), should help to improve student transihas been a requirement under IDEA. tions from secondary to postsecondary
Conclusion Given that most high school students education, a recent study of the implewith disabilities are not adequately mentation of IDEA transition require- Postsecondary education is vital for prepared for a 4-year college educa- ments provides evidence for concern the employment success of students tion, it appears that transition plan- (Johnson, Sharpe, Sinclair, Hasazi, & with disabilities. Along with others,