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Students with disabilities experience transitions and adjustments similar to other post-secondary students, such as navigating a new campus, meeting course expectations, and writing academic papers. However, students with disabilities often need to make additional academic or social adjustments due to the interaction of the impact of their disability with the structure and expectations of the educational environment. It is important to recognize both the similarities among all students and also the unique factors experienced by students with disabilities.

Factors unique to students with disabilities:

  • Is their disability a longstanding one?
    • may know what tools work for them
    • may know how to advocate for their needs
    • likely to consider accessing accommodations as a useful strategy
    • may need to develop new strategies to fit the new post-secondary environment and expectations
  • Is their disability a new diagnosis?
    • may be adjusting to new limitations or circumstances
    • may be the first time they understand why they have been struggling
    • may not be aware that their medical condition is recognized as a disability in postsecondary settings
    • may be unfamiliar with what could support their learning
  • All students with disabilities may have concerns about disclosure and confidentiality. This may impact the extent to which they seek supports or accommodations.

Factors shared by all students including those with a disability:

  • Are they new to the post-secondary environment?
    • may not understand new expectations and environment
    • may not want to disclose a disability or seek support
    • like other students, will need time to develop skills to succeed
  • What other developmental and life issues are they experiencing while studying?
    • transitioning from high school
    • parenting and relationship issues
    • financial concerns
    • major life transitions
    • level of maturity, responsibility, and self-awareness