Ever since the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990, universities and colleges have had a legal obligation to make their campuses accessible for wheelchair users. But that, however, doesn’t mean that all of them do their part.
Ramps that are too steep, narrow doorways and corridors, lack of wheelchair-friendly student accommodation – all of these issues aren’t unheard of. But some colleges and universities are more accessible for wheelchair users than others.
Which ones? Here are the top seven schools that are the most attentive to the needs of wheelchair users, as per the Wheels on Campus report.
Be warned, though: some of these establishments are quite selective. Their acceptance rates can be as low as 17% due to cutthroat competition.
But they also care about diversity and inclusion. So, make sure you have a powerful admission essay to boost your chances of getting in. Not sure you can write it yourself? Hire a professional essay writer help – that’s what they are here for! Plus, it won’t cost a fortune, either.
- Location: Urbana, Illinois
- Acceptance rate: 63%
- Average net price (after financial aid): $13,517 / year
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign might not be the first school that comes to your mind. But it goes above and beyond the ADA to accommodate the needs and wants of wheelchair users. For example, the university has several adaptive sports teams, including a female basketball one.
But that’s not the only reason you should consider it. This school designed its campus to allow wheelchair users to be independent in their daily activities. Its staff also has accessibility in mind when proposing leisure, volunteering, and extracurricular activities. Plus, the university offers:
- A list of wheelchair-friendly off-campus accommodations;
- A powerful personal attendant program;
- Scholarships for wheelchair users;
- Medical and rehabilitation facilities close by.
- Location: Berkeley, California
- Acceptance rate: 17%
- Average net price (after financial aid): $19,329 / year
Another school that goes the extra mile, UC Berkeley is an academic powerhouse. It’s ranked #4 by U.S. News Best Global Universities, after all. But it’s also known as the birthplace of the disability rights movement, all thanks to the “rolling quads” movement in the 1960s.
It’s not just its history and outstanding universal design architecture that makes UC Berkeley stand out. The university also has to offer the following:
- A gym full of wheelchair-friendly equipment;
- A full range of accommodation support services;
- A Disabilities Studies minor;
- Connection to off-campus wheelchair-friendly housing and repair services.
- Location: Tucson, Arizona
- Acceptance rate: 85%
- Average net price (after financial aid): $15,620 / year
A large school located amidst mountainous landscapes, the University of Arizona is known for its powerful humanities, biological, and biomedical programs. It also represents a tight-knit community, despite the size of the campus.
When it comes to accessibility, 90% of the University of Arizona’s buildings are wheelchair-friendly. That’s a rate few U.S. schools can boast, sadly. On top of that, it can offer you:
- A top adaptive athletic program (basketball, tennis, rugby, racing, and even golf for wheelchair users);
- Arizona Adaptive Athletics – a student fitness center accessible for wheelchair users;
- One of the largest Disability Resource Centers in the United States;
- A wheelchair repair and maintenance shop;
- A peer support program to help wheelchair users learn independent living skills.
- Location: Fairborn, Ohio
- Acceptance rate: 96%
- Average net price (after financial aid): $14,880 / year
Named after the Wright brothers, Wright State University might not have been on your radar before. But if you want to work for the government or government contractors, graduating from this school is a sure way to secure a job like that.
Wright State University prides itself in its diversity and inclusion efforts, and that isn’t just a marketing technique. Its campus is designed to be accessible for wheelchair users no matter where they want to go. Its design can easily rival that of Norway’s best universities, even!
There’s also a tunnel system connecting the building – ideal if you need to get around while it’s raining or snowing outside. Plus, the school offers the following services and facilities to its wheelchair-using students:
- A universally-designed student fitness center;
- Adapted labs and assistance services;
- The Workout Buddy Program that brings together students with and without disabilities;
- On-campus wheelchair maintenance and repairs.
- Location: Whitewater, Wisconsin
- Acceptance rate: 80%
- Average net price (after financial aid): $12,522 / year
If you’re looking for a quaint life in a small town, the University of Wisconsin in Whitewater is where you should apply. And don’t worry: despite its location and size, this school offers strong undergraduate and graduate programs in accounting, finance, and marketing, among others.
When it comes to inclusion, the University of Wisconsin Whitewater is among the best there is. Its campus follows the universal design principles to a T. Here’s what this school puts its effort into to make the lives of wheelchair users enjoyable on-campus:
- An outstanding wheelchair basketball team;
- A well-equipped physical therapy gym;
- An on-campus physical therapist;
- Warhawk Wheels – three vans for wheelchair users available on-demand.
- Location: Northridge, California
- Acceptance rate: 66%
- Average net price (after financial aid): $8,882 / year
Located in a small city of 70,000 inhabitants, California State University offers a tremendous amount of programs to its prospective students. There are graduate and undergraduate programs in fields from business and management to economics and computer science.
When it comes to accommodating wheelchair users and their needs, California State University doesn’t lag. For example, this school offers:
- Aquatic and land-based therapeutic exercise programs;
- Adaptive sports and leisure activities (e.g., kayaking, arm-cycling, and even sports festivals);
- Klotz Student Health Center that employs healthcare professionals well-versed in SCI;
- Wheelchair-friendly on-campus accommodation;
- On-campus independence training program.
- Location: Gainesville, Florida
- Acceptance rate: 31%
- Average net price (after financial aid): $10,075 / year
The fifth largest undergraduate establishment in the United States, the University of Florida has been holding onto its spot in the top 10 public schools list for years now. And if you enter this school, you’ll see how a buzzing campus can exist in a town of just 140,000 inhabitants.
Because of its size and universal design, the University of Florida is among the top choices for wheelchair users. The school’s student body includes around 3,000 people with disabilities.
The University of Florida has taken a high-tech approach toward making wheelchair-using students’ lives as autonomous as possible. That can serve as a great inspiration for any architecture major or enthusiast.
For example, some dorm rooms are equipped with the SureHands track lift system. Doors can be controlled using iPads. Bathrooms are equipped with roll-in showers. What’s more, the school has all the other markings of an inclusive educational establishment, such as:
- Personal care attendants hired through a local agency;
- On-campus Gator Lift, a paratransit service;
- Accessible gym and sports, including yoga and basketball.
Here they are, the best of the best in disability inclusion and accessibility. But these seven universities aren’t the only ones that score high on those criteria.
If none of the schools above strike you as a great potential alma mater (or you just want to have more options to choose from), here are five more universities that are a good fit for wheelchair users:
- Ball State University (Muncie, Indiana);
- University of Washington (Seattle, Washington);
- Auburn University (Auburn, Alabama);
- University of Minnesota (Twin Cities, Minnesota);
- Portland State University (Portland, Oregon).