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A student with a disability who attends graduate school is likely to experience many of the same feelings upon entering graduate school as a student without a disability: excitement, hope, anticipation and potentially fear.

A major difference is that a student with a disability may have additional decisions to make in terms of what type of environment will best meet their needs, the level of accessibility the environment requires – both physically and in regards to learning – and if there are any additional resources necessary.

The student will also need to consider whether or not he or she would like to disclose the disability officially and request accommodations and services or not, and the potential impact of either course of action.

One of the helpful aspects of graduate school is that students will likely have completed an undergraduate degree and can build on what worked best in that environment to help inform their graduate experience.

Although their guide is focused on undergraduate students, AFB provides a list of questions students should consider before picking an institution, such as accessibility, location, and resources offered by the disability services department. In addition to providing legislative advocacy for issues of relevance to students who use assistive technology, the ATAP also provides a helpful database of all assistive technology programs in each state. Based in both Florida and New York, CHC is leading the charge in developing new hearing technologies to help individuals with hearing disabilities find an instrument suited to their needs. NCLD has an exhaustive library of reports and studies about how learning disabilities affect students, along with many programs designed to help students achieve their best.

Disabilities -- defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act as a physical or mental disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities – don’t have to act as a barrier for prospective graduate students aspiring to further education.

In addition, colleges may provide different levels of learning support services like tutoring, academic improvement seminars, and Writing Centers.

Access to higher education has increased in the past decade largely due to legislation in both the K-12 and higher education sectors.

Navigating graduate school can be difficult for all students, but for those with visual or hearing disabilities, the challenges can seem doubled at times.

The National Foundation for the Blind reports that 13.7 percent of individuals with a visual disability hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, while a study by Hands & Voices found that approximately 2.1 percent of all students with hearing disabilities currently hold a master’s degree.

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