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College, Adult and Continuing Education

Why This Is Important

Adults with developmental disabilities should have access to a wide-range of inclusive post-secondary educational and life-long learning opportunities. Life-long learning enables personal growth and development, contributes to cultural literacy and provides opportunities to acquire the new skills and abilities that are an increasing necessity in today’s quick changing world. For those without disabilities, post-secondary and continuing education can provide a natural means of transition in the pursuit of ones dreams. These same natural pathways to personal development, inclusion and the realization of dreams should be a readily available option for any adult with developmental disabilities.

The value of inclusion in early childhood, primary and secondary education has been long recognized. Inclusive post-secondary and continuing education is a logical extension. It provides an opportunity for adults with developmental disabilities to develop relationships, explore options, try new ventures, gain experience and hone their career identity.

For close to 20 years successful examples of inclusive post-secondary education for adults with developmental disabilities, including those with severe disabilities, have existed at colleges and universities yet opportunities for inclusive adult education options are all too rare. However, post-secondary institutions including instructors/professors, students and administrators have been far less resistant and more often supportive of inclusive education than has been typically true for primary and secondary schools. Increasing post-secondary and continuing education options for adults has the potential to demonstrate the value of an inclusive education across the life-span. The same principles that apply to inclusive education for children apply to adult education as well (e.g., peer support, modification of the curriculum and instructional adaptation).

Students with developmental disabilities who have participated in inclusive post-secondary education opportunities often challenge the limitations many inherently assume to be true about the nature of developmental disabilities. When students with developmental disabilities have an opportunity to pursue a course of studies in anthropology, English, fine arts or biology they confront public and professional assumptions while opening new possibilities often unimagined.

Just as families and their allies have played an instrumental role in the creation of inclusive education for children, the same is likely to be true for inclusive post-secondary education. The information and resources provided in this department promote the merits of inclusive life-long learning while providing support for the development of new inclusive post-secondary and continuing education opportunities.
 
 
 

This web site is maintained by the Research and Training Center on Community Living with support from the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services, the Human Services Research Institute and the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. E-mail weste050@umn.edu.
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