Impact Feature Issue on Postsecondary Education and Students with Intellectual, Developmental and Other Disabilities

Postsecondary Education for Students with Intellectual Disabilities: An Overview of Current Program Types (sidebar)

There are currently three main models of postsecondary education programs that admit students with intellectual disabilities: mixed or hybrid, substantially separate, and totally inclusive. Within each model, a wide range of supports and services is provided. Each model is described here in the order of prevalence:

  • Mixed/hybrid model:┬áStudents participate in social activities and/or academic classes with students without disabilities (for audit or credit) and also participate in classes with other students with disabilities (sometimes referred to as "life skills" or "transition" classes). This model typically provides students with employment experience on- or off-campus.
  • Substantially separate model:┬áStudents participate only in classes with other students with disabilities (sometimes referred to as a "life skills" or "transition" program). Students may have the opportunity to participate in generic social activities on campus and may be offered employment experience, often through a rotation of pre-established employment slots on- or off-campus.
  • Inclusive individual support model:┬áStudents receive individualized services (e.g., educational coach, tutor, technology, natural supports) in college courses, certificate programs, and/or degree programs, for audit or credit. The individual student's vision and career goals drive services. There is no program base on campus. The focus is on establishing a student-identified career goal that directs the course of study and employment experiences (e.g., internships, apprenticeships, work-based learning). Built on a collaborative approach via an interagency team (adult service agencies, generic community services, and the college's disability support office), agencies identify a flexible range of services and share costs.

Excerpted with permission from Hart, D., Grigal, M., Sax, C., Martinez, D. & Will, M. (2006). Postsecondary education options for students with intellectual disabilities,. Boston: Institute for Community Inclusion, University of Massachusetts.