Giving Compass' Take:

• Lindsay Jones and Ted Mitchell share how some schools are taking the lead and working to reduce stigma for college students with learning disabilities.

• How can funders help schools and communities work to reduce stigma around learning disabilities? 

• Learn about the relationship between learning disabilities, suspensions, and race

While 20 percent of elementary and secondary students have a learning disability, 94 percent of those students received some sort of help or accommodation while in high school. In contrast, while nearly one in five college students has some type of disability, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the median percentage across all institutions of undergraduate students formally registered as having a disability was only 6 percent in 2017.

This is a serious concern, and one that colleges and universities must address head-on.

While strides have been made in recent years to welcome and support college students with a wide range of disabilities, continuing to improve in this area will benefit both students and the institutions they attend.

Individuals with disabilities bring diverse and valuable perspectives to their schools and can themselves be powerful forces in reducing the stigma of having a disability in college.

Fortunately, some schools are showing the way.

For instance, at Smith College, a selective liberal arts institution in Massachusetts, the percentage of students reporting a disability rose from 9 percent in the fall of 2008 to 24 percent in the fall of 2017. This is no accident. Smith offers students with disabilities access to a comprehensive range of supports, including the ASSETS program to smooth transitions from high school to college, as well as dedicated support staff and a structured peer-mentoring program.

At Stella and Charles Guttman Community College, which opened in 2012 as part of The City University of New York (CUNY) system, 26 percent of degree-seeking students in the fall of 2018 reported a disability with the Office of AccessABILITY Services. Students with disabilities receive academic accommodations along with support from the CUNY LEADS program, which focuses on comprehensive career readiness.

Read the full article about college students with learning disabilities by Lindsay Jones and Ted Mitchell at The Hechinger Report.