On the 22nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act being signed into law, officials from University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the State of Maryland announced a novel non-credit program at UMBC to provide a four-year college experience to people with intellectual disabilities.
The Students United in Campus Communty Engagements for Post-Secondary Success (SUCCESS) program was described by UMBC president Freeman Hrabowski as the first four-year program of its kind in the state.
"We will provide young adults with intellectual disabilities a full four-year university experience," Hrabowski said on July 26 to a group in the University Center Ballroom.
UMBC will provide the full cost of tuition, Hrabowski said.
The program is aimed at helping people with disabilities develop their independence, critical thinking, problem-solving and employment skills in a university setting, Hrabowski said.
Up to eight students will be accepted into the program when it begins this fall, according to Diane Lee, the university's vice provost of undergraduate education.
Initially, students in the SUCCESS program will live off-campus, Lee said. The university plans to develop on-campus housing for students in the SUCCESS program to give a full-time university experience, she said.
At present, UMBC has about 220 students with a range of physical disabilities, according to university officials.
The SUCCESS program is a partnership between UMBC and the Maryland Department of Disabilities.
Gov. Martin O'Malley was on hand to announce the new program during the ceremony to commemorate the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"This is an opportunity for people [with intellectual disabilities] to experience college along with degree-seeking students," O'Malley said.
Students in the program will interact with degree-seeking students in a variety of ways, including taking first-year seminar classes together, participating in service projects and completing an internship with an on-campus department, according to university officials.
The interaction will enhance the campus community as well as students in the SUCCESS program, Hrabowski said.
"As we get to know people who are different, we understand what we have in common," he said.