Scholarships for Students with Disabilities: Empowering Education

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Access to scholarship opportunities for students will help aid their learning process and reduce the cost of their education, thereby encouraging them to study. The fourth sustainable development goal of the United Nations includes quality education for all. If we are all working towards quality education for every student, then students living with disabilities should also be included. 

No one likes being limited, unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond human control to find people who now have to live a life different from the norm. Rather than call them people with disabilities, I prefer to call them “differently abled persons”. This is because they aren’t disabled, rather they have learned to adapt to society and the environment in a different way, a way that is in contrast with the norm. 

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Additionally, society has to help them, embrace them, and see them as humans too. They should have access to the same opportunities everyone has because they are also humans, just like everyone!

We’ll explore the different scholarship opportunities available to differently-abled students and how society should adjust to meet their needs. 

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Understanding the Need 

The UNESCO World Education Forum in 2015 showed its commitment to the development of education policies that will focus on marginalized groups, including differently-abled students. Every child, every student, every adult has the right to quality education. It is not for a selected few. As long as a person is human, he/she has the right and entitlement to enjoy what humans are to enjoy. 

Read also: 5 Benefits Of Merit-Based Scholarships

However, this is not usually the case as many differently-abled persons have been forced to dream small because of their conditions. There are challenges people in this group face that limit their expression and they are unable to dare to dream. Some of the challenges differently-abled students face include: 

1. Inadequate structure

One such challenge will be the structure problem. The educational system in many countries, especially the developing countries does not have the structures to accommodate this category of students. It’s not only limited to the educational sectors alone, it also applies to other areas. Not every place is wheelchair friendly and this poses a challenge to students who are confined to it. The physical structures have a lot of impact on the quality of education these students get.

2. Inadequate facilities

Additionally, the facilities to facilitate learning for this group are also not readily available. Once again, this applies to developing countries. The healthcare systems cannot accommodate the needs of these people and they have to be confined to their conditions and adapt to the situation. This can be very limiting. 

3. Inadequate funding

Moreover, there is always the funding problem. The cost of living is high and, unfortunately, parents and family members of these students cannot afford the necessities they need to take care of them. This is also another limiting factor differently-abled students face when it comes to access to quality education.

4. Inadequate orientation 

Finally, there should be an emphasis on the reorientation of people, students, teachers, caregivers, and parents in how to relate with differently abled students. People should be emotionally mature to relate with them without their conditions being the basis of their reactions. 

When all of these things are done, it’ll pave the way in ensuring that every student has access to quality education and becomes who they dream to be. 

Types of disabilities

There are different types of disabilities differently-abled students suffer from. Understanding these disabilities will help us to better understand their needs and how we can meet them. 

According to Johns Hopkins University, the different types of disabilities include: 

1. Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity (ADHD)

ADHD results from chronic disturbances in areas of the brain that regulate attention, and impulse control. It also affects areas that control cognitive tasks, motor functions, and social interactions. It is treatable but not curable and it affects three to six percent of the US population. 

Related: Scholarships For Women In Male-Dominated Fields

2. Blindness/Low Vision

Totally blind, legally blind, and low vision are two terms used to describe students with visual disabilities. Blind students learn via Braille or other nonvisual media. On the other hand, legally blind students have less than 20/200 vision in the more functional eye. Low vision refers to a severe vision loss in distance or near vision. Students who fall in this category use a combination of vision and other senses to learn.

3. Brain Injuries

Furthermore, brain injury is one of the fastest types of growing disability and it often happens to students between the ages of 15 to 28 years. It can result from accidents, poisoning, infection, insufficient oxygen, and other ways 

4. Deaf/Hard of Hearing

This category of students will need different communication methods to enable them to properly communicate but it is dependent on the degree of hearing loss and the age of onset.

5. Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities are oftentimes neurologically based and they affect different areas like listening, reading, speaking, writing, reasoning, and other skills. It is mostly targeted at the intellectual abilities process.

6. Medical Disabilities

Furthermore, medical disabilities include other conditions that affect one or more of the body’s systems. It could be respiratory, immunologic, or circulatory systems. 

7. Physical Disabilities

Additionally, different conditions can be categorized under physical disabilities. It can result from accidents, congenital conditions, or progressive neuromuscular diseases. 

8. Psychiatric Disabilities

Psychiatric disabilities cover a wide range of behavioral and psychological problems. It may be characterized by anxiety, depression, compromised assessment of reality, and mood swings. 

9. Speech and Language Disabilities

Speech and language disabilities emanate from hearing loss, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, or physical conditions. It includes problems like stuttering, stammering, and articulating a particular word or term amongst other things. 

Scholarship opportunities available for differently abled students

There are various scholarship opportunities available for differently abled students. Some of them include:

1. Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) College Scholarship Program

It is a merit-based scholarship open to students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Additionally, it is also open to international students who are undergraduates or pursuing graduate programs.

2. Microsoft DisAbility Scholarship

Microsoft’s DisAbility scholarship is open to students who want to pursue an undergraduate degree in a US university. The students need to have an interest in STEM, law, business, or any other related subject.

3. Google Europe Scholarship for Students with Disabilities 

Additionally, the Google Europe scholarship for students with disabilities open to students who are currently enrolled in or want to be enrolled in a university in Europe. It allows for both bachelor’s, master’s, and postdoctoral degrees. However, students should major in the STEM field or any other closely related subjects. 

4. Google Lime Scholarship Program 

The Google Lime Scholarship program is open to differently-abled students from any country who want to study at a university in Canada or the United States. However, students must be studying a computer science degree or a degree closely related to the technical field.

5. Oxford-Wadham Graduate Scholarship for Disabled Students

Also, the Oxford-Wadham Graduate scholarship for disabled students is open to both EU students and international students. Students will have the opportunity to pursue their master’s degree at Wadham College, University of Oxford. It is a fully funded scholarship. However, applicants must have outstanding academic performances. 

6. Snowden Trust Grants 

It is also a UM charity award sponsored by Snowden Trust. It is open to students with any physical or sensory disabilities from any country who want to study at a university or college in the United Kingdom. 

7.  (University College London) Fees and Funding for Students with Disabilities 

Furthermore, this is a form of financial support from the UCL Fund for International Disabled Students and it is offered to differently-abled international students from outside the United Kingdom who have a disability. 

8. Disability Grants Higher Education Grants for the Disabled 

Also, this is a list of funding opportunities including grants and scholarships for students who desire to study in the UK. 

9. QS Undergraduate Scholarship

The QS undergraduate scholarships are open to undergraduate students seeking to study at a university that is featured on the QS rankings list.  

10. University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) Scholarships disability bursary

The scholarship is awarded by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and it is open to differently-abled international students who want to pursue their graduate or postgraduate degrees at the university. 

Read also: The Role Of Scholarships In Encouraging STEM Education

Important tips needed to apply for STEM Scholarships

Additionally, when it comes to scholarships, whether for international students in STEM or otherwise, there are always specific requirements the sponsor expects. This differs according to the type of scholarship you are applying for. However, some important tips to take note of when applying for a scholarship in the STEM field include:

  • Identify the specific discipline you want to major in before going ahead to apply for the scholarship. This is important because there are some scholarships open to some specific disciplines. You will look unserious applying for a scholarship you do not wish to major in. 
  • You can look out for scholarships that are open to your particular discipline. 
  • Ensure that you meet up with the eligibility requirements. Additionally, ensure that you provide all the information that is requested.
  • Moreover, do not forget the deadline. Make sure you submit your application before the deadline.
  • Get someone to help proofread your application. Do not forget to double-check it to ensure all the answers are accurate.
  • Reach out to other people who have applied before to get important tips that can aid your application process.

Start With Us

Do you desire to start a career in STEM? The first thing is to pursue a degree in STEM. Wondering how to go about pursuing a postgraduate degree in STEM courses abroad? We can guide you through your journey and make your dreams come true. Reach out to us at EdXtra to access opportunities that will help you on your journey. 

Enrolling in the top universities in the world can increase your chances with employers. Unfortunately, it can be quite expensive to study abroad due to the current economic crisis. But this shouldn’t limit you as there are other options you can explore to enhance your career. 


  • Mercy Awofiranye is a creative writer with over five years of experience. Currently, she specializes in creating helpful content for students in the education space. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, and learning new things.