Choices for Students With Special Needs
By Zaher Karp
is the anticipated fork in the road for many students, but for
those with special needs, this shift is far more uncertain.
For students who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder (AD/HD), dyslexia, or another learning disability,
what are their postsecondary education options? Several programs
and schools have been established to cater specifically to students
with disabilities, including Gallaudet University, Landmark
College, and the SALT program at the University of Arizona.
Founded in 1864 by an act of Congress, Gallaudet University
(www.gallaudet.edu) in Washington D.C. has been dedicated to
the education of the deaf and hard of hearing. The bill was
signed by Abraham Lincoln, and Gallaudet College was born. It
remained Gallaudet College until 1986, where another act of
Congress approved university status.
University remains the only liberal arts University for the
deaf in the entire world,” said Mercy Coogan, a university spokesperson.
This institution teaches approximately 2000 undergraduate and
graduate students; numbers that were previously unimaginable
from its initial enrollment of eight students. This upcoming
semester, for the second time in the history of Gallaudet, hearing
students will be admitted. These students have expressed a good
deal of interest and are, of course, fluent in sign language.
They are often the children of deaf adults.
Landmark College, in Vermont, is the only recognized college
within the US designed solely for the purpose of educating “students
with average to superior intellectual potential” suffering from
dyslexia, AD/HD or other specific learning disabilities. Founded
in 1983, Landmark College first welcomed 77 students in 1985,
and now, in 2002, enrolls over 350. The motto of this school
seems to be, “At Landmark College, students learn how to learn.”
From their website (www.landmarkcollege.org), one can see that
the college focuses upon the individual, changing its approach
to fit the person. In this two-year college, “We address skill
deficits–that is, reinforcing reading skills and critical thinking…making
it easier for them to become independent students,” says Leatrice
Johnson, Dean of Admissions at Landmark.
Within the sprawling campus of the University of Arizona at
Tucson, lies the SALT (Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques)
Center (salt.arizona.edu), which has enabled thousands of disabled
students to graduate with degrees. Founded in the 1980-1981
school year as part of the University Learning Center, it all
began with a core of three students that eventually expanded
to the 520 students in 2002. Diane Perreira, Director of the
SALT Center, spoke with great conviction about the level of
support that it provides to the students. “One of the things
that is unique [about the SALT center], is that it provides
students with a number of options for support. This is, unfortunately,
often ignored in an academic environment.” The SALT Center is
not subsidized by the state, but, rather, by private donations
and SALT students. Unlike many programs for disabled students,
SALT has been widely accepted and is highly praised by the President
of the University.#