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The Smith family, parents of Rockies player Blake, would like to share their story of how they arrived at their new normal in their life. Chad “the Dad” and Becky Smith love meeting people with similar challenges, and they are anxious to help others reach the NEW NORMAL in their lives.
Read their story and get contact info
Aging and Disability Services Division
1860 East Sahara Avenue
Las Vegas, NV 89104
The mission of ADSD is to ensure the provision of effective supports and services to meet the needs of individuals and families, helping them lead independent, meaningful and dignified lives.
Autism Speaks aims to bring the autism community together as one strong voice to urge the government and private sector to listen to our concerns and take action to address this urgent global health crisis. It is our firm belief that, working together, we will find the missing pieces of the puzzle.
Best Buddies Nevada
2980 S. Jones Blvd. Suite C
Las Vegas, NV 89146
Our Mission is to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
A Retail Savings Guide for People with Disabilities.
9139 West Russell Road, #110
Las Vegas, NV 89148
The Mission of Danville Services is to help each person served get their desired quality of life.
Desert Regional Center
5550 W Flamingo Rd, Ste D-3
Las Vegas, NV 89103
This center provides services for individuals suffering from severe intellectual disabilities and related conditions.
Down Syndrome Organization of Southern Nevada
5300 Vegas Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89108
The mission of the Down Syndrome Organization of Southern Nevada is to enlighten the public by promoting a positive understanding of Down syndrome in the community and be a source of support, information and education for families and individuals affected by Down syndrome.The vision of the Down Syndrome Organization of Southern Nevada is for individuals with Down Syndrome to be accepted in the community and respected for their abilities and contributions.
3325 W. Craig Road, Suite A
North Las Vegas, NV 89302
Dungarvin is a national organization of privately owned companies that are dedicated to providing high quality, community-based supports to people with varying support needs.
Easter Seals Nevada
6200 W Oakey Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 78146
Easter Seals provides services to help children and adults with disabilities and/or special needs as well as support to their families.
Epilepsy Foundation of Nevada
2880 Bicentennial Parkway, Suite 100-105
Henderson, NV 89044
Since 2008, Nevada Epilepsy has been dedicated to the welfare of people with epilepsy.
Families for Effective Autism Treatment of Southern Nevada
7055 Windy Street Suite B
Las Vegas, NV 8919
(702) 368-FEAT (3328)
Families for Effective Autism Treatment, Inc. (FEAT) is a non-profit organization of parents and professionals, designed to help families with children who have received the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), including Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), or Asperger’s Syndrome.
Family TIES of Nevada
6130 Elton Avenue, Suite 100
Las Vegas, NV 89107
Family TIES of Nevada is the Family-to-Family Health Information and Education Center. They provide training, information, and emotional support to help parents and their children to have a successful journey thru life. Through emotional support, training, advocacy training and support, encouragement, and education Family TIES helps parents and their children to find the answers and information they need to get through life.
Freedom Concepts USA, LLC
660W 17th Street, Q30
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Freedom Concepts Inc. (FCI) custom designs tricycles, walkers and chairs to provide mobility and therapeutic benefits for thousands of special needs individuals throughout Canada and the U.S.
4330 W. Cheyenne Ave
North Las Vegas, NV 89032
Holdsworth Inc. has a variety of services to address the needs of Individuals with Intelluctual Disabilities and related disorders. The person is assessed and an individualized support plan is developed so that the proper services and/or living arrangement are provided .
Journeys Community Services Inc
401 N Buffalo Dr, #202
Las Vegas, NV 89145
This agency provides day habilitation services to developmentally disabled individuals who live in their homes.
Muscular Dystrophy Association
1919 S Jones Blvd., #G
Las Vegas, NV 89146
The Muscular Dystrophy Association is the world’s leading nonprofit health agency dedicated to finding treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neuromuscular diseases.
Nevada Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (NCED)
NCED MS 285, UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA RENO
Reno, NV 89557-0285
The NCED serves as Nevada’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD). The UCEDDs were established and funded by the Developmental Disabilities Rights Assistance and Rights Act (DD Act). UCEDDs work to accomplish a shared vision that foresees a nation in which all Americans, including Americans with disabilities, participate fully in their communities. Independence, productivity and community inclusion are key components of this vision.
Nevada Department of Employment, Training & Rehabilitation
3016 W Charleston Blvd, Ste 200
Las Vegas, NV 89102
DETR’s mission is to provide Nevada’s businesses with access to a qualified workforce and encourage equal employment opportunities.
Nevada Disability Advocacy & Law Center (NDALC)
6039 Eldora Ave #C-3
Las Vegas, NV 89146
The Nevada Disability Advocacy & Law Center is dedicated to helping and protecting the rights of disabled Nevadans. NDALC is Nevada’s federally mandated protection and advocacy system for the human, legal, and service rights for individuals with disabilities. Their programs include such things as the protection and advocacy for individual rights, protection and advocacy for people with developmental disabilities, and protection and advocacy for beneficiaries of social security. They have offices in both Las Vegas and Reno.
Nevada Parents Encouraging Parents (PEP)
2355 Red Rock Street, #106
Las Vegas, NV 89146
Nevada PEP is a nonprofit organization that provides information, services and training to Nevada families of children with disabilities.
2101 S. Jones Blvd., Ste 120
Las Vegas, NV 89146
PEP is Nevada’s statewide Parent Training & Information center for families who have children with disabilities and the professionals who support them. PEP works to increase the opportunities for home, community and school success for children with disabilities, including those who are at risk or who have serious emotional disturbances, their families and their service providers, through education, encouragement and empowerment activities. PEP provides information and referral, conflict resolution support, individual assistance, parent mentor and advocates, and training workshops for parents.
5220 W Charleston Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89146
New Vista is committed to providing the intellectually challenged of all ages with equal opportunities and support so they may experience life to the fullest.” The overall goal of New Vista is to empower people through a better quality of life. Our skilled staff works to improve each individual’s ability to be independent and to build self-esteem through obtaining their goals.
6300 W Oakey Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89146
Opportunity Village is a not-for-profit organization that serves people in the Southern Nevada community with intellectual disabilities, to enhance their lives and the lives of the families who love them.
Partners for Autonomy In Life Skills
3920 W Charleston Blvd Ste L
Las Vegas, NV 89102
This agency provides services for the developmentally disabled and special needs services and products.
People First of Nevada
PO Box 570755
Las Vegas, NV 89157
People First of Nevada is a Self-Advocacy Group run by people with developmental differences throughout Nevada. As citizens of Nevada, we have the right to make our own decisions and to live self-determined lives.
Pinnacle Community Service
3355 W Cheyenne Avenue # 103
North Las Vegas, NV 89032
This agency provides residential services for the disabled community.
3000 Rigel Ave
Las Vegas, NV 89102
Our partnerships with providers, participants, and employers provide a source of income, opportunity to advance, a sense of accomplishment and self- esteem for participants. Employers gain employees with a support team to perform regularly scheduled job positions within their businesses.
Southern Nevada Centers for Independent Living (SNCIL)
2950 S. Rainbow Blvd., Ste 220
Las Vegas, NV 89146
SNCIL offers services to Individuals with significant disabilities, whose disability is creating a barrier toward independent living in the family, community or in employment. They provide services such as information and referral, independent living (life) skills, counseling, advocacy for interaction at both the individual and systems level, housing and transportation assistance, and adaptive environment assistance in the Southern Nevada region.
Special Olympics Nevada
5670 Wynn Rd, Ste H
Las Vegas, NV 89118
Special Olympics Nevada provides athletic opportunities to children and adults with intellectual disabilities, instilling the confidence they need to succeed in life.
The Arc in Nevada
3983 S. McCarran Blvd, #311
Reno, NV 89502
The Arc in Nevada works to develop long-term capacity for advocates to have input and impact on issues of importance to people with developmental disabilities and their families.
The Sibling Leadership Network
332 S. Michigan Ave, Ste 1032-S240
Chicago, IL 60604-4434
The Sibling Leadership Network is an organization of siblings dedicated to the promotion of family support and empowerment for people with disabilities across the lifespan.
Transition Services Incorporated
4545 Spring Mountain Rd, #111
Las Vegas, NV 89102
This agency assists people with disabilities find meaningful employment in a supportive atmosphere.
United Cerebral Palsy of Nevada
6100 Neil Road, Suite #201
Reno, NV 89511
The mission of United Cerebral Palsy of Nevada is to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities.
People with disabilities are a vibrant and vital part of our communities. According to the most recent US Census, there are 56.7 million people in the US living with disabilities, accounting for nearly one-fifth of the total population. That means it’s incredibly likely that you or someone you know and love is currently living with a disability.
Unfortunately, living with a disability can make it difficult to find and keep work. In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that people with disabilities had an unemployment rate of 10.5 percent, more than twice the rate of those people who do not have a disability.
Having a disability can also come with a hefty financial burden, especially if you require regular medical care, durable medical equipment, and/or a companion to help you navigate daily life.
Still, there are resources out there to help folks with disabilities cover their medical costs, supplement their income, and save money on everyday items. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you find ways to keep get cash back and save on the things you need.
Here’s what you’ll get in this guide:
- A guide to navigating Social Security benefits
- Information on health insurance
- A list of ways to save on housing and upgrades to make your home more accessible
- Tips for saving on everyday items, travel, and entertainment
- A list of organizations that are helpful resources for people with disabilities
Social Security benefits for people with disabilities
The federal government offers two main financial assistance programs to people with disabilities.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
The first is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). You can qualify for SSDI if you have worked under Social Security long enough and recently enough before becoming disabled. Essentially, you earn credits for making a certain amount of income annually.
This year, if you earn $1,320 in wages or from self-employment, you receive one credit. The maximum number of credits you can receive annually is four. To qualify for SSDI, you must have earned 20 credits in the last 10 years.
In order to access SSDI, you can complete an online application, call their toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 or TTY 1-800-325-0778 for folks who are hard of hearing, or visit your local Social Security office. There are certain conditions that will qualify you automatically. If you don’t have one of those conditions, you may still qualify. SSDI only covers full disability and long-term conditions that meet the following criteria:
- You cannot do the work you did before because of your disability
- You cannot adjust to other work because of your condition
- Your condition has lasted or is expected to last more than one year or result in death
Determinations are made based on your application, your medical records, and, for those who are still working, whether your recent income is less than $1,180 per month. Your application may be expedited through the Compassionate Allowances if you have certain cancers, adult brain disorders, or rare children’s disabilities.
You may also be able to qualify under special circumstances if you are blind or have low vision, if you’re the widow or widower of a person who qualified, if your child is disabled, if you haven’t worked but became disabled before the age of 22, or if you’re disabled army veteran.
If you do qualify, you’ll receive monthly assistance that can be direct deposited into your bank. The amount you receive is based on your average lifetime earnings before you became disabled and typically ranges from around $700 to $1,700 per month.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
The other federal program is Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI helps disabled folks, elders over the age of 65, and people who are blind who have little to no income. For folks who have not had prior work experience or have not been able to work recently, this may be the only benefits option available for you.
You can use this online screening tool to find out what benefits you may be eligible for. Should you decide to apply for benefits, you’ll follow the same steps as you would for SSDI. You can complete an online application, call their toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 or TTY 1-800-325-0778 for folks who are hard of hearing, or visit your local Social Security office.
You’ll be asked to provide information about your medical history as well report your income. For the purposes of SSI, folks with disabilities must meet the following requirements:
- Are over 65 to meet the age requirement
- If you qualify as blind meaning:
- You have a central visual acuity for distance of 20/200 or less in your better eye with use of a correcting lens, or
- You have a visual field limitation in your better eye, such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees.
- If you qualify as disabled meaning you have a medically verifiable physical or mental condition that:
- Means you cannot earn substantial income from work
- Can be expected to result in death
- Can be expected to last or has lasted for a continuous 12-month period
If you meet the disability requirements, your income will be the next determining factor. To qualify, you cannot exceed the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR) which is currently $750 per month for an individual or $1,125 per month for a couple.
If you meet this requirement then you will receive payments of the FBR monthly, again meaning that you’ll get $750 per month as an individual or $1,125 per month as a couple.
Both of these programs also offer incentives to folks who want to work again and are on the path to doing so. These can include things like extending your access to Medicare, covering impairment-related work expenses, and a safety net for folks who phase out of the program by earning “substantial” income, but have months where they do not earn enough money to meet that requirement. You can find a comprehensive list of these incentives here.
Government health insurance for the disabled
First, let’s talk about people with Social Security benefits. If you receive SSDI, it’s likely that you have or can eventually get coverage through Medicare, a free or low-cost health insurance program that is available to people over 65 who have paid taxes into the program and people with disabilities.
However, there is a 24-month waiting period from the time you qualify before your Medicare coverage begins. If you’re in that waiting period, you may be able to sign up for Medicaid another free or low-cost government insurance program.
If you receive SSI, your insurance coverage will vary based on the state where you live. In some states, you may automatically be enrolled in Medicaid when you qualify for SSI.
In other states, you are guaranteed to qualify for Medicaid, but you still have to apply for it. And, in a few states, you’re not guaranteed eligibility but are still likely to receive Medicaid. Check here to find out the rules where you live.
If you don’t receive either of these benefits, but still meet the definition of disability by SSI standards, you might still be able to get access to Medicaid. This may be your situation if you qualify as disabled, but make too much income to receive SSI.
Federal regulations require that states must cover people who are severely impaired, have qualified for SSI and Medicaid before, but now earn to much income to qualify for SSI. They also must cover people over the age of 18 who became disabled before 22, but no longer qualify for SSI.
States make their own determinations beyond that, and some may cover folks with disabilities who wouldn’t otherwise qualify for Medicaid.
In order to receive Medicaid, you will need to apply with your state. You can find a list of state Medicaid websites here. You will need to provide information about yourself, your dependents, and proof of your monthly income.
Affordable Care Act (ACA)
Lastly, if you don’t qualify for Medicaid, you may be eligible to find a plan through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA provides federal subsidies for people at 100 to 400% of the federal poverty line to make healthcare more affordable.
As part of the ACA, insurance companies may not reject you for a pre-existing condition including disabilities. You can apply for ACA coverage through your state’s marketplace, which you can find here.
Housing aid for people with disabilities
We’ll start by talking about federal grants you can receive to help you with housing.
Housing Choice Vouchers
Under the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Housing Choice Voucher program, local Public Housing Authorities (PHA) can offer rent and housing assistance to low-income, non-elderly families living with a person with disabilities.
The vouchers cover difference between an individual or family’s monthly rent and 30% of their monthly income.
Based on your local PHA’s specifications, you may be required to live in specific housing projects or you may be allowed to select any safe, accessible, and reasonably priced home in the private market. You can find your local PHA here.
While the vouchers are typically used for rental assistance, some PHAs allow qualified folks to use their vouchers towards home ownership. For instance, New York Stateallows you to use your voucher towards the purchase of a home if you’re a first time homeowner.
They require that you take a class in homeownership, that the home meets certain requirements, and that you arrange for a private inspection of the home. They can assist you with your mortgage or with making a down payment.
Under Topic Number 502, if you itemize your deductions using Form 1040 Schedule A, the IRS allows you to deduct any medical expenses you have over 7.5% of your annual gross income.
That means if you make $50,000 in a year, you can deduct any medical expenses you make that exceed $3,750. This includes making home renovations to make your house or apartment more accessible.
Americorps Rebuilding Together
Rebuilding Together is a volunteer-run program that offers help to folks who need assistance building or repairing their homes. They pride themselves on assisting folks with disabilities in building homes and making them more accessible.
In 2016, 50% of the homes they built or repaired had one or more disabled person living in them. You can find your local affiliate here.
Housing assistance for disabled veterans
There are five federal grants you can receive if you are an honorably-discharged disabled veteran.
- Home Improvement and Structural Integrity Assistance (HISA). Lifetime grants up to $6,800 are available for veterans with service-related disabilities and veterans with non service-related disabilities rated up to 50% service-related. Those veterans with non service-related disabilities can receive up to $2,000. Grants can be used to make entryways and exits accessible, make bathroom and kitchen facilities more accessible, improve plumbing and electric for medical equipment installation, and more.
- Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) and Special Housing Adaptation (SHA). These grants help people with service-related disabilities to either build an accessible home or adapt an existing home to be accessible. Qualifications for each vary based on your disability. For SAH, you must own the home and live there permanently, while for SHA the home may belong to a family member and you must live there permanently. For 2018, SAH grants run up to $81,080 and the SHA grants max out at $16,127. You can only use the maximum amount three times.
- Temporary Residence Adaptation. You may also be eligible to receive a grant to adapt a family member’s residence where you’ll be living temporarily. The maximum you can receive through SAH is $35,593 and through SHA is $6,355. These grants do count as one of your three usages.
- Specially Adapted Housing Assistive Technology. The VA is authorized to distribute up to $1 million dollars in grants to eligible disabled veterans to adapt their homes with new assistive technologies such as voice-command software and assistive feeding devices. The maximum grant per person is $200,000.
Mobility and medical equipment savings for the disabled
If you have Medicare Part B, insurance that covers services and equipment not covered by Part A, your plan covers 80% of the cost of durable medical equipment which includes walkers, wheelchairs and mobility devices, crutches, beds, lifts, and much more.
You may be asked to rent the equipment or may have decision between renting and buying. You cover 20% of the costs of the equipment.
If you have Medicare and Medicaid, Medicaid can cover the 20% portion of your equipment that Medicare does not cover. Medicaid plans vary by state, but most will cover all or nearly all of the cost of necessary equipment. Find your state’s plan here.
Mobility and medical equipment savings for disabled veterans
Stores with Discounts on Mobility Equipment
- Mobility Scooters Direct. Sign up for their email for special offers. They also run a mobility scooter giveaway program every 90 days where you can win a free scooter.
- Discover My Mobility. Has an offer where if you find a competitor with a lower price, they’ll match that price and take 10% off. Otherwise your product is free.
- Med Mart. Sign up for their Rewards program and earn 1 point for every $45 you spend to be used towards free gifts. Plus, get exclusive sales and invitations.
- EZ Lite Cruiser. Order a Cruiser and get four free gifts worth up to $200.
- Medical E-Shop. Check here for monthly discounts.
- SpinLife. Sign up for their mailing list for special offers and check here for sales or promo codes.
Scholarships for people with disabilities
For a comprehensive list of academic scholarships available to people with disabilities, visit this Scholarships.com article. You can also fill out a profile with them to search and apply for scholarships.
Automobile savings for people with disabilities
These car companies offer rebates to folks with disabilities on equipment such as lifts, ramps, and hearing assistance devices to help you make your car more accessible:
- General Motors. Offers up to $1,000 reimbursement on eligible equipment plus two years of OnStar services with available 4G LTE and Wi-Fi hotspot when you have accessibility equipment installed.
- Ford. Offers up to $1,000 reimbursement on eligible equipment or up to $200 reimbursement on alert hearing devices, lumbar support, and running boards.
- Nissan. Offers up to $1,000 reimbursement on eligible equipment.
- Toyota. Offers up to $1,000 reimbursement on eligible equipment.
- Honda. Offers up to $1,000 reimbursement on eligible equipment.
- Hyundai. Offers up to $1,000 reimbursement on eligible equipment.
- Acura. Offers up to $1,000 reimbursement on eligible equipment.
- Lexus. Offers up to $1,000 reimbursement on eligible equipment plus flexible, extended-term financing on the vehicle and the equipment for up to 84 months.
- BMW. Offers up to $2,500 reimbursement on eligible equipment.
- Subaru. Offers up to $1,000 reimbursement on eligible equipment.
- Volvo. Offers up to $1,000 reimbursement on eligible equipment.
- Audi. Offers up to $1,500 reimbursement on eligible equipment.
Entertainment and travel discounts for people with disabilities
National Park Service
The National Park Service offers an Access Pass for people with disabilities. The pass is totally free (normally $80) as long as you provide proof of disability as well as proof of US residency.
You’ll receive free access to any national park and 50% discounts on some amenities fees. You can get your pass for free in person at any national park or by mailing in this application for a $10 fee.
Many state parks offer free access for folks with disabilities as well. Check with your state’s parks and recreation website to find out if your state participates.
- Virginia Zoo. Folks with disabilities can get a free ticket to the Virginia Zoo and one for their companion.
- San Diego Zoo and Safari Park. Folks with disabilities traveling with a companion get one ticket for free. More San Diego Zoo promo codes here.
- Philadelphia Zoo. People with disabilities visiting with a government-funded Personal Care Assistant receive one free ticket.
- San Francisco Zoo. Guests with disabilities receive San Francisco resident discounted rates.
- Minnesota Zoo. Guests with disabilities visiting with a companion receive one free ticket. You may also qualify to get the other covered by the Free to Explore program.
Several amusement parks also offer priority access to people with disabilities. Here are a few:
- Dorney Park. The Boarding Pass Program allows you to schedule a ride time for you and three companions to avoid lines.
- Disney. Their Disability Access Pass allows you to schedule a ride time if you’re not able to wait in lines. Once you finish one ride you can get a return time on the next one.
- Six Flags. Many Six Flags locations offer the Attraction Access Pass if you have a note from a doctor that specifies that you can’t wait in lines. You can schedule a time for you and three companions to ride and use an alternate entrance when you arrive at the ride.
- Sage Traveling. A travel agency that creates accessible packaged trips around Europe for people with disabilities. Sign up for their mailing list to get their free monthly newsletter and a 50 Euro coupon towards your next vacation.
- Amtrak. Offers a 10% discount for adults and children who request special assistance as well as their companions over the age of 18. Passengers with disabilities riding the Downeaster train receive 50% off.
- Paratransit. Most cities offer a door-to-door paratransit ride program for people with disabilities who cannot take the bus, subway, or other public transit options. In fact, it’s required under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
Examples include Access-a-Ride in New York City and The Ride in Boston. Some cities, including Boston, have begun pilot programs to offer subsidized Uber and Lyft rides as an alternative to paratransit, with fares as low as $2 per ride. Check with your local public transit authority to see if they offer these service.
Useful apps for people with disabilities
These free apps are incredibly helpful resources for people living with disabilities. Check them out:
- SwiftBraille. A free soft keyboard app that allows visually impaired users to type using braille.
- Be My Eyes. A free app that connects visually impaired people with sighted folks who can act as their eyes when they have a question about something.
- Access Earth. A free website being developed into an app that shows you accessible places in your neighborhood.
- Toilet Finder. A free app that lets you search for accessible, free toilets near you.
- Roger Voice. A free app that turns speech to text and text to speech in real time to allow you to make and receive phone calls.
- Dragon Anywhere. A free mobile dictation app that turns your speech to text.
- Autism Apps. A free app that provides a list of apps for people with autism, Down Syndrome, and other special needs.
Helpful resources for people with disabilities
There are a number of non-profit organizations out there dedicated to helping people with disabilities find work, access resources, and have fun. Here are some organizations that are worth checking out:
- Living Beyond Boundaries. Offers scholarships and grants, mentoring and life coaching, and opportunities for career advancement and travel for people living with disabilities.
- Easterseals. Provides programming to help you live abundantly, learn important skills, and train for and find work. They also have provide respite services and have camping and recreation facilities across the country designed with people with disabilities in mind.
- AARP. If you’re over 50, you can sign up for a membership with the AARP and get discounts on everyday items including travel, restaurants, and groceries.
- Special Olympics. Has sporting events for people with intellectual disabilities around the globe.
- American Association of People With Disabilities. An advocacy organization aimed at increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities. They offer voting initiatives, summer internship programs, mentoring, and more.
- Wounded Warrior Project. Offers employment and benefit services, as well as programming like Project Odyssey, a multi-day outdoor adventure aimed at easing Combat Stress and PTSD.
- Look into organizations that work to support people with your particular condition. Here are a few examples:
- United Cerebral Palsy. Offers tons of resources for people with Cerebral Palsy including employment guides, education toolkits, and more.
- National MS Society. Has resources for people living with Multiple Sclerosis including the Personal Advocate Program which aims to improve independent living capabilities for people with MS.
- American Cancer Society. Offers resources and programs including free rides and a free place to stay when you’re receiving treatment far from home.
- Wheelchair Foundation. Donates free wheelchairs to people who need them around the world.
- Autistic Self-Advocacy Network. Provides resources for people living with Autism, by people with Autism.
Living with disabilities shouldn’t mean struggling financially. Check out the tips we’ve offered here to save a bit of money on the things that matter most.
College Resources for Disabled Students: Best Colleges, Gov’t Programs, Scholarships & Helpful Apps
People with disabilities are a diverse and vibrant community, making up nearly one-fifth of the US population. Yet, they face unique struggles when it comes to accessing postsecondary education.
People with disabilities of all kinds tend to attend and graduate college at far lower rates than people who do not have disabilities. According to a 2015 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 16.4 percent of people with disabilities over the age of 25 had completed a bachelor’s degree compared with 34.6 percent of their non-disabled peers.
And, of those who had completed a bachelor’s degree, only 26.1 percent were employed compared with 75.9 percent of their non-disabled peers. One distressing result of this trend is that 48 percent of people with disabilities are living on an income of $15,000 per year or less.
One of the reasons for this disparity is a lack of affordable, adequate resources that folks with disabilities need to succeed after high school. When you add the hefty price tags of medical care and assistive technologies to the soaring costs of college tuition, the financial burden of attending college as a person with disabilities can seem nearly insurmountable.
In this guide, we’re going to point you towards some useful resources for people with disabilities, including physical, intellectual, and learning disabilities, to help you get access to a great college education and save some money along the way. Here’s what you’ll get in this guide:
- 5 of our best tips for accessing college education as a person with disabilities.
- A list of government resources for your education
- Tips on scholarships, top schools for people with disabilities, discounts on assistive technology, and more!
TIPS FOR DISABLED FOLKS PURSUING A COLLEGE EDUCATION
Know your rights
The disability rights movement has made tremendous strides over the last several decades to ensure fair and just treatment for folks with disabilities. Check out the Americans with Disabilities Act website so you’re prepared in the event that your rights are being violated.
Use on-campus disability resources
Find the office for students with disabilities on your campus or at schools you’re interested in. Most colleges and universities have an office for students with disabilities that connects folks with the resources that are available on campus. Schedule an appointment with them to review your options.
Shop around for schools
We’ve got a few useful lists a little later on in this article, but it’s crucial to do your research. Some schools are more committed to the success of their students with disabilities, so it’s important that you look out for which schools have the highest success rates for people with disabilities. A few schools are even completely dedicated to educating students with disabilities!
Find an advocate
Sometimes speaking up for your own needs can be challenging, especially when you’re already facing the stresses of college life. Find a point person on campus or even a friend who can help you advocate for yourself so you can get your needs attended to.
Check out advocacy organizations associated with your specific disability
Many of these organizations can offer you more specific information about your rights, link you with resources that you need, and some even offer scholarships and grants to help you with the costs of schooling. This guide deals with disability broadly, so it would definitely be useful to check these organizations out for more tailored information.
GOVERNMENT RESOURCES FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
There are a number of resources and benefits funded by the federal government as well as state and local governments that can help you transition to a postsecondary education and succeed when you get there.
In addition, anti-discrimination laws are on the books to ensure that your campus is accessible and that you have the resources you need to perform at your best. These are the government resources are here to assist you.
Medical tax deduction
Under IRS publication 502, students with disabilities who require special education may be able to deduct the cost of college tuition, meals, and lodging if they attend a school that is specifically equipped to assist students with learning disabilities.
In order to qualify for the deduction, a doctor must recommend that the student attends a school that offers particular services for students with learning disabilities and the primary objective of their education should be helping them to overcome their learning disabilities.
Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, which was passed in 2004, mainly pertains to students up to age 21 who are pursuing elementary and secondary school education. However, it does require that services are provided which can help students with disabilities transition to life after high school, including transitioning to postsecondary education.
The act requires that these transition services are offered before the student turns 16 and that schools offer individualized programs tailored to each student’s specific needs.
Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education Pamphlet
This document was developed by the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The pamphlet is intended to inform students with disabilities of their rights and responsibilities when pursuing postsecondary education and offers useful information on how to address cases of discrimination, how to request academic adjustments, and what your rights are as a student with disabilities.
Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID)
In 2015, the US Department of Education offered grants to 25 institutions to help them create or expand model programs at colleges and universities that offer services to help students with intellectual disabilities transition to a college education or receive credits for postsecondary education.
Many of these programs are offered at reduced rates, provide individual support for students, and offer meaningful credentials for students upon finishing the program. You can find a list of colleges and universities that offer these programs here.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504
Under Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, any college or university that receives federal financial assistance, which is all public and most private institutions, may not discriminate against students with disabilities. They must require reasonable accommodations so that students with disabilities can have access to the same services, extracurricular activities, housing, and more that their non-disabled peers enjoy.
Schools must also provide quality auxiliary aids such as notetakers, interpreters, assisted listening devices, captioning, specialized gym equipment, and other tools to assist students with disabilities.
Assistive Technology Act of 1998
This act grants federal assistance to states to help them implement programs that provide assistive technology to people with disabilities. The main purpose of these programs is to offer several key services including state financing programs for devices, device loan programs, device demonstrations, and device reutilization programs where folks can access used devices at a low cost.
These programs are intended to help people with disabilities figure out what devices work best for them and to assist in finding ways to access them at low or discounted rates.
National Center for College Students with Disabilities (NCCSD)
The National Center for College Students with Disabilities is the only federally-funded organization dedicated to providing information and resources to college students with disabilities. They are currently in the midst of filling the gap in research about the experiences of college students with disabilities.
Disability Rights, Education, Activism, and Mentoring (DREAM)
Funded by the NCCSD, the Disability Rights, Education, Activism, and Mentoring(DREAM) national student activist group is an online disability cultural center that connects students with disabilities and empowers them to create change on their own campuses by forming DREAM chapters.
One of their main projects is #DREAMMentorMondays, a monthly free webinar series that touches on topics relevant to undergrad and graduate students with disabilities. Check out their College While Disabled blog for more information and inspiration.
Graduates who become totally and permanently disabled after receiving an undergraduate education may be eligible for debt forgiveness of federal student loans and/or TEACH grant service obligations. For more information, check out this FAQfrom Nelnet.
COLLEGES SPECIFICALLY FOR STUDENTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES
These two accredited colleges are the only schools in the country that exclusively enroll people with learning disabilities. Both schools offer unique services and access to crucial resources for students with disabilities which help them to graduate at higher rates than their peers who are enrolled in traditional colleges and universities.
Located in Vermont, Landmark College is dedicated to providing an education exclusively to students with learning disabilities. They offer resource centers to help students succeed in different areas of their education including individualized programming that can identify strengths and weaknesses. Landmark also provides the latest technologies for students to use free of charge.
Beacon College was the first school in the country to receive accreditation which awards degrees specifically to students with learning disabilities. Their programs have an 83.3 percent graduation rate, which is significantly higher than the 34 percentcompletion rate reported by a survey from the National Center for Education Statistics.
The college’s Center for Student Success is one of the main draws, which acts as a resource for students to get support in their coursework, access career development services, and learn important life skills.
THE BEST COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
When it comes to supporting students with disabilities, not all schools perform at the same level. Take a look at these rankings of schools that are best for students with disabilities to help decide which college or university might be the right one for you.
- College Choice’s 50 Best Disability Friendly Colleges and Universities offers a ranking of 50 top schools for students with physical, intellectual, and learning disabilities on a 100-point scale. Each entry contains information about the school’s programming, the cost of education, and a link to their website.
- Best Value College’s 20 Best Value Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities rankings include information on the specific programming at each of the schools on their list that makes them an excellent choice for folks with disabilities.
- Best Colleges Online’s 20 Incredible Colleges for Students with Special Needs offers a ranked listing of 20 schools with specific information about their programs for people with disabilities.
COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
These websites offer lists of scholarships that are available for people with disabilities.
Financial Resources and Scholarships:
Affordable Colleges Online
Affordable Colleges Online offers a listing of 85 scholarship for students with physical, intellectual, and learning disabilities as well as a number of other resources to help you afford your college education. The list is searchable by disability.
Learn How to Become
Their 50 Best Scholarships for Students with Disabilities page offers a well-organized list of scholarships available to folks with disabilities as well as advice on how to get federal funding, grants, and other forms of financial assistance to help fund your education.
Nitro College’s 131 Scholarship Opportunities For Students With Disabilities. By far the most comprehensive list out there, this collection of scholarships is searchable both by disability and by award amount. The list begins with a bunch of useful resources for folks with disabilities as well.
Top 10 Online Colleges
Top 10 Online Colleges’ 25 Great Scholarships for Students with Disabilities. This list offers detailed information on 25 scholarships that are available to folks with disabilities including contact information for each scholarship and details on how to apply.
DISCOUNTS ON ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY & FREE OR LOW-COST APPS FOR DISABLED COLLEGE STUDENTS
As technology has advanced, devices and apps that can assist folks with disabilities have become much more effective and widely available. While many of these technologies are still quite expensive, there are some resources out there that are free, low-cost, or available to you at a discount to help you succeed. Check these out:
Assistive Technology Discount Sales and Services
This company offers product information and discounts on assistive technology devices and services. Check out their Discounted Products page to find discounts on assistive technology organized by specific needs.
EnableMart offers a wide variety of assistive technology devices and products for folks with different disabilities. Join their mailing list to get invitations to free webinars and special offers, and use this discount code for $5 off your first order.
All Apple products including Mac, iPhone, and iPad come standard with assistive technology applications such as Speak Screen which reads text on a screen out loud and Live Listen, which connects the device’s built-in microphone to your assisted listening device to help you hear conversation more easily.
If you’re planning to get an Apple product for school, you can check out a list of their accessibility features here.
Dragon Anywhere is a free dictation app that converts speech to text. In order to access all of the features, you do need to purchase a subscription, but some features come standard.
The Speak It! app costs $1.99 and will convert text to speech. You can plug in emails, documents, web pages, PDFs, and more and have them read back to you out loud or you can type in text and it will speak it out loud so others can hear what you’re saying.
Voice4U is an app that helps folks with autism, language barriers, traumatic brain injuries, and history of stroke communicate with others through pictures. The app normally costs $59.99, but they offer free license codes to qualified organizations and individuals. Check with your college or therapist to see if they can get a license code.
Virtual Manipulatives is a top-rated free app that can help you learn fractions visually.
Students with developmental delays and dyscalculia often benefit from having a calculator that reads numbers and symbols out loud to them. This free Talking Calculator app does just that!
Voice Recorder HD
The Voice Recorder HD app creates high-quality recordings that can be replayed at varying speeds which is useful for folks who have trouble with auditory processing. The app records in the background, so you can use other programs while it records. They also offer accessibility support within the app for people with disabilities.
Ginger is a software plug-in that you can use for free on any Chrome browser. It includes tons of features like word prediction, grammar checker, sentence re-phraser, text reader, dictionary, and more, although some are only available in their subscription program.
Students can get a 40% discount on Ginger’s premium plan, which costs as little as $7.49 per month when you purchase an annual membership.
Enable Viacam is a free, open source software program allows people with ALS, spinal cord injuries, or other disabilities to control their computer with intuitive head movements instead of a mouse. It works with any good webcam and has a bunch of different customizable options.
DISABILITY JUSTICE ORGANIZATIONS FOR DISABLED COLLEGE STUDENTS
There are a number of nonprofits and other organizations out there working to support, provide resources, and ensure justice for people with disabilities. As we mentioned earlier, it’s a great idea to check out organizations that advocate for folks with your specific disability.
However, these groups work for people with disabilities more broadly and are a great place to find useful information, get involved in disability activism, and receive support:
Association on Higher Education and Disability
Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) is a disability advocacy organization that “envisions a postsecondary experience that embraces disability and is free from barriers.”
In addition to offering information and resources, students can purchase an annual membership for $40 which includes benefits such as a discounts on professional development events and resources, access to their Career Center and Information Services Portal, over 50 free webinars, and more. They also offer an annual scholarshipof $1,000 to two recipients.
American Association of People with Disabilities
American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is an advocacy organization that works to empower people with disabilities. Their page on education is an incredibly useful resource, containing a list of scholarships, organizations to check out, information about their advocacy work, and a link to their summer internship program.
Learning Disability Association of America
Learning Disability Association of America advocates for folks with learning disabilities, helps refer people to resources in their area that can support them, and offers an annual conference to connect folks with learning disabilities and professionals who work with them.
Students can get an annual membership for $25 which gets you access to benefitsincluding their toll-free information line, discounts on conferences and events, connection to their community forum, regular briefings, and much more.
PACER is staffed predominantly by parents of folks with disabilities and offers programming and resources to help people with disabilities and their parents.
They have an entire page dedicated to Training and College Opportunities that is a wealth of information on how to get into college, how to transition smoothly into life after high school, and how to ensure that you’re receiving fair treatment in your postsecondary education.
The National Parent Center on Transition and Employment is aimed at parents specifically, but you should check out their resources including this super useful page on using the latest assistive technology in college.
Everyone deserves a fair, accessible, and affordable education. While we may not be there quite yet, these tips and resources can help you find ways to afford a postsecondary education and to succeed when you get there. The Dealspotr blog also number of other articles to help folks with disabilities to save money that you won’t want to miss, including 100+ Resources, Tips, and Discounts on Mobility and Accessibility Products for Seniors and People With Disabilities and 60+ Discounts, Health Care Resources, and Helpful Programs for People with Disabilities.
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