Remote Higher Education 4 All
By Ashley Woodbury
In 2020, the Institute on Disability (IOD) at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) received a $2.5 dollar grant to improve access to post-secondary education for young adults with intellectual disabilities (ID). In line with this goal, and in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IOD has been offering a 10-week UNH-4U Bridges to College and Career series remotely via Zoom.
The Bridges series is available to young adults (ages 18-25) with ID who were/are eligible for special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and who are interested in authentic postsecondary education. Bridges classes include Academic and Assistive Technology for College Access, Setting and Realizing Goals Using Person-Centered Planning, and Healthy and Social Aspects of College Life. Like all UNH students, participants are offered technical support to access and navigate coursework in a virtual environment. The goal of the series is to promote self-awareness, technology and personal computing skills, knowledge of resources, employment/academic direction, advocacy, and social connections within the campus environment utilizing available UNH supports and services.
Participants connect virtually with fellow participants, instructors, advisors, and matriculated UNH students during a time when face-to-face education is not possible. During the final class last fall, one participant, Patrick Corbin, reflected on the UNH-4U Bridges experience saying, “It’s like having a new friend when you really needed one.”
Plans are in the works, beginning in the fall of 2021, to provide 5-10 students per year with an authentic two-year immersive college experience. UNH-4U will offer inclusive housing options, opportunities to participate in extra-curricular campus life experiences, on campus employment and transportation exploration, and support while students attend classes of interest and earn credentials in preparation for future careers. iod.unh.edu/projects/unh-4u
Ashley Woodbury is a UNH Leadership and Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) student.