“I feel that education is very important. Education helps us expand our understanding and learn new skills. Students who want to get an education should not be denied access because of a health condition or disability,” says Annie Tulkin, founder of Accessible College.
Annie has worked in the disability field for over 10 years. She earned a master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In completing her thesis research, Annie received a Fulbright research grant to go to Mongolia (where she had previously been a Peace Corps Volunteer) and study Mongolian Teachers’ Perceptions of Disability in the Classroom.
Annie has an impressive resume in working with people with disabilities. For nearly six years, Annie was the Associate Director of the Academic Resource Center at Georgetown University (Georgetown’s Disability Support Office). “There, I supported undergraduate, graduate and medical school students with physical disabilities and health conditions. I also supported students who needed housing accommodations related to a disability and I worked with the entire student body on academic and executive function skills through one on one meetings and workshops,” she states.
“ Many of the students I worked with were not aware of the process for requesting accommodations in college and were unprepared by their schools and healthcare providers for the transition.”
Annie’s work with Georgetown University led her to begin Accessible College. Below, Annie goes more in depth about Accessible College in an interview with AbleThrive.
Why did you start Accessible College?
“I started Accessible College while working at Georgetown University. Many of the students I worked with were not aware of the process for requesting accommodations in college and were unprepared by their schools and healthcare providers for the transition. I identified a gap that specifically impacted students with health conditions and physical disabilities, who are often not engaged in the transition process in high school. There are a lot of resources and consultants who focus on transition for students with Learning Disabilities, ADD, and Autism, but I’m not aware of anyone who specifically focuses on students with health conditions and physical disabilities transitioning to college. That’s why I started Accessible College to provide college transition support for students with physical disabilities and health conditions.”
What advice would you give to someone who is starting or thinking about higher education?
“Start thinking about your transition early. Students should craft questions related to their needs to ask on college tours and make appointments to meet with the administrators in the Disability Support Office (DSO). It’s important that students feel comfortable and supported by the DSO. Students should think through their independent living needs and include their parents/family in that process. It’s important to start working executive function skills and taking on more responsibilities related to their needs before they start college.”
Are there ways that colleges/trade schools/etc. could be more inclusive?
"Schools and universities can adopt Universal Design principles that make courses more accessible academically and make buildings and programming more physically accessible for all students regardless of ability.”
Be sure to check out Accessible College’s Twitter and Facebook as Annie often does live chats with content related to college and disability.
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