Fellow Project

Mary Niederberger Fellowship-11 Project

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Leveling the Playing Field

College students with disabilities face journeys of self-advocacy

Mary Niederberger for the Pittsburgh Institute of Nonprofit Journalism June 7, 2021

Advocating for accommodations has been a constant, but largely quiet, struggle for college students with disabilities since the Americans with Disabilities Act became law in 1990. The law requires colleges and universities to provide equal access to students with disabilities by providing accommodations that remove barriers to their participation.

This series allows students who’ve experienced the struggles to tell their stories, sharing both the positive and negative of their journeys through higher education. It comes at an especially relevant time since the past year of online education prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic caused students who hadn’t previously reported disabilities to seek accommodations as they struggled to adapt to learning in the virtual world. The increased awareness on accommodations provided a window for more students and faculty into the world that their peers with disabilities live in on a daily basis in postsecondary academia.

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