Cover of Impact, 35(1), showing college students celebrating.

The just-launched spring issue of Impact explores the state of inclusive higher education for people with intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities (IDD). Contributors include senior academic leaders in the field, heads of successful and emerging alliances and programs, and students and alumni, who share their college experiences.

“This issue of Impact captures our collective progress in a field that is growing but still under development,” said Meg Grigal, co-director of Think College and a senior research fellow at the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Institute for Community Inclusion. “It reflects how legislation can change lives, but not without hard work, vision, and holding true to inclusive values and high expectations for people with intellectual disability.”

Grigal served as an issue editor and author, along with David R. Johnson, University of Minnesota; Susanna Miller-Raines, Think College; and Beth Myers, Syracuse University.

Impact is the Institute’s flagship publication. Each issue explores a single topic of importance to people with IDD from a variety of perspectives. Overview articles by academic thought leaders and disability services practitioners discuss critical progress and needed resources in the field. Profiles of successful or promising programs and how-to articles highlight the practical aspects of serving the disability community. And personal stories share insights directly from people with disabilities themselves or their families. Click here for a free print or digital subscription. 

The issue includes an article by the current and a past chair of the National Coordinating Center’s Accreditation Workgroup on progress the field is making toward development of critical standards that will help students and families choose higher education programs.

Other articles share resources for exploring college options, strategies for getting inclusive programs off the ground, and recommendations for making programs more inclusive for students with IDD. More than 6,000 students with intellectual disability are estimated to be enrolled in postsecondary programs today.

Among several students who share their personal stories, readers will meet Hope Hansen, a sophomore in the Riverhawks Scholar Program at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma. Hansen’s story speaks volumes about the contributions students with disabilities can make to community life on campus. 

“All this experience has made me want to help people realize they are going to be OK at college, whether they have disabilities or not,” Hansen shares in her article. “Some people just don’t have friends in high school, and I tell them if they need anything, I’m there. I want to be the person who says, ‘I’ve got you.’”

Together, the articles in the issue celebrate the field of higher education as a nexus for special education, rehabilitation, and disability advocacy, Grigal said.

“Combining the greatest strengths of these fields will create new and improved pathways for students with IDD,” she said. “Our field has the capacity for growth and the contributors to this issue demonstrate their commitment to improving both practice and outcomes.”