Why should people with disabilities learn English? Some English language students with disabilities have said:
- "In my work, I often interact with people who speak or write English. Now I can comfortably visit them without sign language interpreters."
- "English is important to create links with other disabled people who work for human rights."
- "Through English and the Internet, I can share my life experiences with people all over the world."
- "I want to learn English to be more independent."
What motivates YOU to learn English? Whether it's to get a better job or to meet people around the world, take the first step to reach your goal. Join an English as a Second Language (ESL) program in the U.S. or online.
Finding the Right Program
You have many options for studying English in the U.S. There are hundreds of English as a Second Language (ESL) programs and courses to choose from. All ESL programs in the U.S. are required to make their programs accessible to students with disabilities. While searching for ESL programs in the U.S., think about your needs and your goals. Consider other factors, such as where in the U.S. you want to live, how much you can afford, and the levels of English courses available.
Research the ESL teachers' qualifications and their experience teaching students with disabilities. Some ESL teachers have a lot of experience or expertise teaching students with disabilities. For example, some teachers have taught many blind students or offer courses designed for Deaf students. In other cases, ESL teachers have little or no experience teaching students with disabilities. They might need extra help to make the class accessible to you.
Many ESL programs are hosted at U.S. colleges and universities. See Study at a U.S. College or University for more information about accessibility, services for students with disabilities, choosing a program, and more.
U.S. laws protect you from discrimination when applying to ESL programs, degree programs, and scholarships. The school or ESL program is not allowed to deny you admission based on your disability. When applying, you may disclose your disability and request accommodations, such as an application in braille.
Disability Preparations & Arrival
As soon as you are accepted into a program, contact the disability support person or other staff to begin planning any disability-related support you will need in your classes or student activities. Ask if you will need to provide documentation (proof) of your disability in order to receive services. The disability support person may also be able to share information such as disability-friendly campus maps, disabled student clubs, accessible transportation and more.
6 Disability-Friendly and Deaf-Friendly ESL Programs
You are not required to enroll in an ESL program that is designed for students with disabilities; rather, it is simply another option you can consider. The advantage of joining a disability-friendly program is that the teachers are already experienced in making the course accessible to students with disabilities. This means that not as much time is needed to plan for access.
- Hadley School for the Blind distance ESL program
- Gallaudet University's English Language Institute for deaf students
- Ohlone College's English Language Institute for deaf students
- Austin Community College's Deaf English Program
- Harriet Fulbright College's Deaf ESL Program
- Mentora ESL for Deaf/Hard of Hearing