Parents, Community Invited to Learn About UCF’s New Intellectual Disabilities Program

April 13, 2015

A new UCF program to provide an immersive college experience for students with intellectual disabilities is gearing up to start this fall, and the first public-information session will be held on campus Thursday, April 16.

The meeting will provide an opportunity for community partners and family advocates of potential students to meet with university administrators, faculty and staff to discuss the first program of its kind in Central Florida.

The information meeting will be 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 16, in the UCF Live Oak Event Center, 4115 Pyxis Lane. For a map and directions, go to http://liveoak.ucf.edu/directions/.

“UCF is committed to inclusive education experiences,” said Adam Meyer, director of Student Accessibility Services and chair of the new inclusive education committee. “We believe there is an opportunity in Central Florida to develop an immersive academic, professional and campus experience for students with intellectual disabilities who cannot otherwise traditionally access college opportunities.”

Some other colleges offer similar programs, he said, “but our goal is to create the most inclusive experience possible and to develop new ways to present a campus opportunity to students with intellectual disabilities. We want to be a model program with emerging, progressive practices.”

Earlier this year, the inclusive education committee began working on the program so students could register for college courses, live in university housing, immerse themselves in college life through student organizations and other social activities, and prepare toward independent futures and vocational opportunities. The pilot, a part of the Division of Student Development and Enrollment Services, will start on the main campus and is expected to eventually become a key component of UCF Downtown.

The project is being designed to meet the personal objectives for each individual based on his or her needs and goals, and mentoring will be a key element to ensure student success and engagement on campus.

A search is under way to hire a program director, and a website has been set up to share information about program goals, the application process, housing, tuition costs and other topics.

The university will start accepting applications April 17. Five students will be accepted for the pilot program’s first semester; the enrollment will increase in subsequent years.

“As UCF continues to design its downtown campus, the ultimate vision is to have 30 to 40 total students with a vibrant, immersive presence at the current campus and the eventual downtown campus,” Meyer said. “We will build a Center for Inclusive Education that will incorporate this experience, an exceptional-education academic degree program, faculty research and statewide collaboration with other Florida intellectual-disability programs on post-secondary campuses. There is much opportunity for creativity and transformational development.”

For additional information about the program, Meyer can be reached at ies@ucf.edu.