Access:Ability Scholars

Building a World for Every Body


Do you want to be involved in creating an accessible, diverse and inclusive world? Maybe you are curious about...


- Disability representation in the arts or social media

- Innovative products to enhance the health and well-being of people with disabilities

- Policies or practices that support people with disabilities to live, learn and work to their full potential

- Other issues affecting the disability community


Whatever your interests, as an Access:Ability Scholar, you will have opportunities to explore, design and advocate for new approaches to disability in partnership with individuals on campus, in the community, nationally and globally.

All majors are welcomed. Access:Ability Scholars embrace disability and possibility. 

If we are to achieve a richer culture, we must weave one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.

Margaret Meade

If we are to achieve a richer culture, we must weave one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.

Margaret Meade

How to Apply

Applications to Access:Ability Scholars have closed for fall 2021. Applications for students wishing to apply for entry in fall 2022 will open in January 2022.

Program Highlights


The Access:Ability Scholars program combines a low number of course credits with a variety of non-credit co-curricular learning opportunities across scholars’ time at UD, including:

  • Social Events: Each semester, you will attend one event especially for scholars. Two recent favorites included an interactive session on creative, innovative historical figures who had disabilities and a panel of students and faculty with disabilities who discussed disability in higher education.

  • Community Events: Each semester, you will attend one event for scholars that is open to the community. Examples include a screening and panel discussion of the film, Intelligent Lives, and a community roundtable about current issues in the disability community.

  • Mentors: In your first year, advanced undergraduate peer mentors will meet with scholars individually and in small groups to help you make connections on campus and in the community. The faculty coordinator is available to meet with you throughout your time at UD.

  • Connections: You can use the Scholars Opportunities database and Facebook group to find disability-related service, research, and other opportunities. You will be encouraged to connect with disability-related student groups, study abroad, and conferences. 

  • E-Portfolio: With support from the faculty coordinator and peer mentors, you will create an e-portfolio about your experiences highlighting:

    • what you learn personally and professionally about disability issues; 

    • what you observe about intersections of disability and other aspects of human diversity; 

    • what you learn about interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary approaches to disability issues, including relevant ethical implications; 

    • how you engage with people with disabilities and allies in transformative ways.

Specialized Coursework

  • DIST 100 - Access:Ability Introductory Seminar (required, 1 credit in fall of first year)

    • You will be challenged to think about disability from multiple perspectives and identify opportunities for exploring, designing, and advocating for inclusive, strengths-based responses to disability.

  • DIST 200 - Access:Ability Experience (optional, variable 1 – 3 credits, repeatable,)

    • Design an independent study to engage with disability through research, service learning, or leadership activities

  • DIST 400 - Access:Ability Senior Project (optional, 3 credits)

    • Complete an independent research or service learning experience that engages people with disabilities and their allies in project design, implementation, or interpretation.

Up to 9 credits of Access:Ability coursework can be applied to the 18-credit Disability Studies Minor.


The Access:Ability Scholars Program is administered by UD's Center for Disabilities Studies (CDS) and the College of Education and Human Development, which also support the Disability Studies Minor – a program that enrolls more than 400 students from a wide range of majors in multiple colleges at the University.

CDS is a member of the Association for University Centers on Disabilities. CDS transforms communities through their programs, education, service and research that support inclusion, empowerment and well-being of people with disabilities and their families. Across the University of Delaware’s colleges, diverse faculty and students are engaged in an array of research, teaching, service and advocacy that embraces disability and possibility.

Frequently Asked Questions

Access:Ability Scholars is open to first-year and transfer students admitted to Newark campus.

Admitted students can access the essay prompts to apply through their My Blue Hen Home student portal. Students may apply to multiple programs, but will only be admitted to one program.

Essay prompts must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. EST on Thursday, March 25, 2021.

Applicants will be notified by email no later than April 13, 2021.

Learn More

For questions, please contact or 302-831-8123.