Snapshot of AACC efforts related to individuals with disabilities and veterans
New resources to improve students with disabilities’ online access to community colleges. The Institute for Community College Development (ICCD) at Cornell University and the Employment and Disability Institute (EDI) are collaborating on a 3-year project to examine the accessibility of major online student processes and to develop tools to assist community colleges with improving the accessibility of processes for students with disabilities. The study will include an examination of online admissions and financial aid application processes as well as programmatic information. Following the first 2 years’ findings, ICCD and the NIDRR-funded ADA Centers will provide key community college representatives information and recommendations for effective community college systems change to promote increased accessibility to web-based student processes.
Current counsel to and offices at AACC
Advisory Council on Leadership Initiatives—AACC is counseled on leadership initiatives by an 11 member group that includes a Director of Student Financial Aid & Veterans Services.
Office of Government Relations—Advocates to protect funding for and to support higher education opportunities for Veterans’ and their families. Specific goals: 1) Support funding for existing programs as well as the creation of new programs to help institutions better serve the particular needs of students who are veterans. 2) Enact legislation that protects veterans from unscrupulous educational providers by providing them with the information they need to make sound choices, without imposing burdensome requirements on institutions.
In addition to working closely with its membership institutions, AACC engages with an array of originations to support its veterans’ priorities including higher education and veterans associations, federal agencies, congressional offices, and others. AACC letters of support and testimony before congressional committees available on the AACC website.
Office of Diversity, Inclusion, & Equity—Promotes increased access and success for the diverse community college population by securing increased federal and private support for colleges, and provides opportunities, resources, and information to improve student success, including persistence, retention, program completion, and transfer.
Community College Dialogue on Veterans—In February 2013, AACC convened a meeting of twenty-five community college leaders and representatives from The White House, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Service members Opportunity Colleges, and EDUCAUSE to focus on support for returning veterans and community college programs.
AACC’s current grant-funded projects to serve students with disabilities and veterans
Plus 50 Initiative—The Plus 50 Initiative is a project to benchmark and showcase the most current and innovative programs at community colleges that engage learners age 50 and over. The Plus 50 Initiative invests in community colleges to create or expand campus programs that engage the plus 50 student population, with a focus on workforce training and preparing for new careers.
Virtual Career Network (VCN) – Healthcare—Through a Dept. of Labor grant, AACC created and maintains the nation’s Virtual Career Network (VCN) – Healthcare. The VCN—an online career exploration site—helps students identify health care programs and jobseekers enter the healthcare field. The VCN assesses interest, aptitude and readiness for health careers and provides free online courses.
Maps to Credentials—AACC is a partner in the Maps to Credential project supported by the Fund for Improvement of Postsecondary Education. The project has provided support and assistance to three community colleges as they develop credential road maps for military students that incorporate American Council on Education credit recommendations for military occupations and training and other Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) methods to allow veterans and other military students to use their prior learning to accelerate their attainment of a postsecondary certificate or degree. Maps to Credentials proposes to achieve the following:
Increase campus awareness of military student needs
Raise veterans’ postsecondary attainment
Maximize learning gained from military training and experience through credential roadmaps
Provide models for mapping prior learning credits to courses and programs
Advance institutional commitment to credit for prior learning policies and practices
Data: community college role in educating disabled students and veterans
Federal data show a large commitment at community colleges to educate students with disabilities and veterans, as public two-year colleges enrolled about 46 percent of students with disabilities and 42 percent of veterans in 2011-12.
2006 data (AACC, supported by the U.S. Dept. of ED)
Only half of community college students who reported having a disability used disability support services in 2006, (AACC, 2006).
The most commonly reported accommodations and services provided by community colleges were academic counseling, note takers/scribes/ readers, testing accommodations, alternative media, and tutoring services.
AACC disseminates information to its members and others through an array of communications tools including a daily, online newspaper, electronic newsletters, and a bi-monthly journal.
Community College Daily (sample of articles)
Creating a veteran-friendly college as part of your brand
Students with disabilities, DataPoints, November 2013
Examples of colleges serving veterans
College of DuPage (IL)
Excerpt: The college has been named the first community college recipient of the Governor's Award for Excellence in Education by the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. The award reflects its work in exceeding basic offerings and whose accomplishments in veteran-friendly programs significantly impact the overall experience of the student veteran community. In addition, the veterans counseling certificate meets a growing demand for professionals trained to handle the unique issues faced by veterans.
Lone Star College System (TX)
Excerpt: LSCS was recently named to the 2012 Military Friendly School list by the G.I. Jobs Military Friendly Schools team and to the 2012 “25 Colleges with Incredible Veteran Support” list by Best Colleges Online.
Green River Community College (WA)
Excerpt: Green River Community College is active in providing academic, transition and support services for student veterans. Through the Veterans Council, Green River serves more than 300 student veterans who are receiving G.I. Bill benefits, and more than 400 students receive tuition waivers due to veteran status.
Central Community College (NE)
Excerpt: Veterans Resource Centers are available on each of CCC’s three campuses, thanks to a three-year, $393,993 Central to Veteran Student Success grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). The college was named a top 15 percent Military Friendly School for 2012 by G.I. Jobs magazine.
Central Community College is successfully implementing a $9.5-million health profession opportunity grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to prepare 1,600 low-income individuals for careers in healthcare professions.
Blue Mountain Community College (OR)
Excerpt: The college has taken a leadership role among Oregon’s 17 community colleges in the development and implementation of career pathways, the national career readiness certificate, and in supporting military veteran students and their families. In 2009-2010, BMCC was designated by G.I. Jobs magazine as a military-friendly college.
Previous grant-funded programs
Project Reach—From 2005-2009, through a Corporation for National and Community Service grant through its Engaging Persons with Disabilities, New Special Initiatives Program, AACC provided grants to 14 community colleges to develop opportunities for disabled students to engage in services learning. (Research shows students ability to connect to others is a strong predictor of student success.). Review the project’s publication, Enriched and Inspired, Services Pathways to College Success. The publication includes information on the colleges’ outreach and admission of disabled students and veterans as well as practices to keep those students engaged.
Disability Support Services Directory. Provides a composite of services provided by and identifies which community colleges provide those services. The Directory presents a picture of the programs, services, and support community colleges offer for individuals with disabilities, and heightens awareness of the range of education and training opportunities available at those institutions. It is intended to serve as a resource for administrators, counselors, students, parents, and policymakers. As part of the survey, each school described outreach activities in eight different areas, provided information on any noteworthy features of their programs, and reported on nine categories of disabilities: visual impairment or blindness; deafness/hard of hearing; orthopedic/mobility disabilities; speech/language disorders; learning disabilities; mental retardation; emotional/behavioral disorders; head injuries; and chronic illnesses/other. The directory is organized into four parts: (1) Institutions by State, including the number of students registered for disability support services, a list of services available, and special features; (2) Numbers of Students Reporting Disabilities by Category (in chart form); (3) Special Features Index, which categorizes services, programs, or accommodations that are perceived to be particularly noteworthy by the institutions; and (4) Institutional Index. Contains 73 selected references. (ERIC)