College Guide Lists UA Among Schools With Strongest Support for Students With Learning Disabilities

University Relations - Communications July 14, 2014

The Fiske Guide to Colleges has named the UA one of the most supportive institutions for students with learning disabilities.

In recent years, the UA's Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques Center has enhanced academic support services for students with learning and attention challenges. The center also has expanded support for high school students and those with autism spectrum disorder, a growing population within higher education. (Photo credit: Paul O'Mara)

The Fiske Guide to Colleges has again named the University of Arizona among the best in the nation in support of students with learning disabilities.

In the guide's 2015 edition, released earlier this month, the UA is listed among 15 major universities that provide "strong support" for students with learning disabilities. Including the small colleges listed, only a total of 31 higher education institutions made the list. The UA was also listed in 2013.

The guide, directed at prospective students, notes that the UA maintains "many programs to help those with learning disabilities." At the center of support for students with learning disabilities is the Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques Center, known as the SALT Center, which has been recognized as an international model.

"Our team considers our national and international status a critical aspect of our current and future success," said Rudy M. Molina Jr., director of the SALT Center. 

"Today, there are more options for students with learning and attention challenges than ever before in the history of modern education. This is true due to all the good work being done with national advocacy groups, K-12 professionals and postsecondary institutions committed to making education and learning more accessible," Molina said. "Our principles guide our work with students, and it is important to me and my team that we keep our promise to students."

The team's principles promote, among other things, working in tandem with students, guiding them along in personal development and academic success. 

Staff at the center, which has been recognized as an international model for higher education institutions serving students with learning and attention challenges, work in partnership with UA faculty and also staff at Disability Resources, which also serves as a national model for creating an inclusive and equitable campus environment.

The SALT Center works with students who have a history of learning and attention challenges as well as those officially diagnosed with learning disabilities, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorders. The center provides students with comprehensive, fee-based offerings, including educational planning, tutoring, psychological services and programs that aid in students' social and leadership development.

The center also offers a pre-college summer program for high school students and now has a full-time team member who leads the center's Life and AD/HD Coaching services.

"These two services represent the growth and forward thinking that my team and I are building right now," Molina said, adding that the team intends in the coming years to develop a greater capacity to support students enrolled in online courses and degree programs.

"The future is bright and we're excited to keep on moving forward," he said.

In addition to local, regional and statewide efforts, Molina noted that the international stage may be the next critical space for designing education policy and legislative reform to improve supports for students with learning challenges. He and his UA colleagues have begun to inform international practices related to serving students with learning challenges.

"I believe the UA can play an integral role in shaping how our global society views learning and redefines what it means to have a disability," Molina said.

"We want to inform prospective international students and families that the UA is a leader in supporting students with learning disabilities and other disabilities because we honestly believe that, with an educated and confident citizenship, our world can be a better place."