If you have a physical disability, you don’t have to miss out the college experience of dorming on campus.
A program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides facilities and support to allow students with physical disabilities to attend college away from home.
As reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education, a new high-tech dorm building at Urbana-Champaign responds to students’ voice commands and allows them to call for assistance at any hour of the day. Many of the rooms also provide motorized ceiling lifts for students with more severe physical disabilities.
Students without disabilities also live in the building and several of these students work as personal assistants for the students with disabilities, which is another key feature of the program.
Disabled students can have up to five hours a day of one-on-one assistance. They choose which students to hire as their assistants and then juggle their assistants’ schedules to work with their own.
The personal assistants work a minimum of 18 hours a week. In return, they receive free room and board. They also get valuable experience as professional caregivers—many are pursuing degrees in health-related fields.
While the students with disabilities at Illinois are dependent on the student assistants, they are able to live away from home and on campus—something that wouldn’t be possible at most schools.
Stephanie Zaia, a 21-year-old sophomore at Illinois, says that "there's no other campus that has this kind of setup. I visited another campus, and the tour guide didn't even know where the ramps were."