In New York there are only 30 college programs and experiences that include students with intellectual and other disabilities—less than 10% of institutions across the state. The New York State Inclusive Higher Education Coalition is a group of committed universities, colleges, school districts, and disability agencies working towards consistent and meaningful access to postsecondary education across New York State. Meaningful experiences can include college courses, internships on and off campus, and college life such as clubs, intramural sports, and events. Our goal is to create and improve college options for these students, and increase awareness of these options among families and school district.
- Increase the number of colleges & universities offering certificate programs through funding to colleges and universities to create partnerships and provide certified transition programs.
- Increase the utilization of Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) support through self-direction for students with disabilities.
- Increase the number of Comprehensive Transition Programs (CTPs) in New York State. Being a CTP provides students and families with access to federal financial aid (if no longer enrolled in high school).
- Increase the employment outcomes of students with IDD who are exiting college, including increased utilization of ACCESS-VR support.
The importance of postsecondary programs for individuals with intellectual disability
The education, employment, and community outcomes for people with disabilities have historically been bleak in our country. Many wind up living in poverty, working subminimum-wage jobs in segregated “sheltered workshops,” or living at home with aging parents and little community engagement. A 2012 Human Services Research Institute survey of adults with disabilities in 16 states found that only 14.7% were competitively employed.
This situation is starting to improve as students with intellectual disability are being included with their nondisabled peers in postsecondary education. As colleges and universities open their doors to students with intellectual disability, these individuals are experiencing substantially better outcomes in employment, social engagement, and community living (Butler, Sheppard-Jones, Whaley, Harrison, & Osness, 2016, Grigal, Hart, Smith, Domin, Sulewski, & Weir, 2016; Hartz, 2014; Moore & Schelling, 2015).
These programs lead to meaningful work experience, higher wages, and continued employment:
86% of students participated in paid employment or unpaid career development activities, such as internships, service learning, or volunteering.
Students disabilities who participated in postsecondary education were 26% more likely to exit with paid jobs.
Students earned 73% higher earned income upon exiting than those who received only vocational rehabilitation services.
76% had a paid job, had participated in unpaid career development, or had done both at the time they exited.
40% had a paid job within 90 days of exiting and, of those, 90% were in jobs that are integrated and in the competative labor market.
How do we know these programs are growing and sustainable?
31 states have received Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) grants between 2010–2020. There are over 250 postsecondary education programs for students with intellectual disability in 47 states, and the number is growing.
The retention rate (i.e., the percentage of students returning to college the following year) among first-year students who enrolled at TPSID programs from 2010 to 2014 was between 70% and 80%.
In 2015–2016, 98% of TPSIDs received some financial support from external sources, such as state VR and intellectual and developmental disability agencies, including for student tuition further leveraging federal dollars.
TPSID projects are required to match 25% of the funds they receive from the Department of Education thus extending the reach of the federal dollars.
In comparison, what are current outcomes for individuals with intellectual disabilities?
Lack of competitive employment
The number of adults with intellectual disability in integrated employment has remained level since 2004 (Butterworth et al., 2014). A survey of 11,599 adults with intellectual disability in 16 states found that only 14.7% were competitively employed (Human Services Research institute, 2012).
In 2011, 81% of people with intellectual disability were being served in facility-based and non-work settings (Butterworth et al., 2013).
Poor transition outcomes
In 2011, the employment rate for transition-age individuals (ages 16–21)was 18%, or less than half the employment rate for people without disabilities (Butterworth et al.,2013).
Worse adult outcomes
This gap becomes worse as people with intellectual disability age, with only 32% of adults ages 20–30 having employment, compared to 74% of people without disabilities in the same age group (Sulewski et al., 2013).