The University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus has been named one of America’s top disability-friendly online universities.

Published by education research publisher SR Education Group, the 2018 Best and Most Affordable Online Colleges for Students with Disabilities are ranked based on four factors: thoroughness of resources, Universal Design for Learning training, availability of distance learning accommodations, and variety of services provided.

The list was released June 21.

“The 55 colleges on this list represent the most disability-friendly online schools because they provide the highest level of support, the widest breadth of accommodations, and the most comprehensive resources for students with disabilities,” said Sung Rhee, the research group’s CEO.

College Choice ranked U-M as the best disability-friendly college or university in the United States in 2016.

“It is nice be recognized,” said Stuart S. Segal, director for the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities. “The office continues to strive to improve and make sure that students with disabilities have full and equal access to all components of the university.”

Services for Students with Disabilities is an instrumental resource for students with disability needs. The office, created in 1973 as the Office of Disabled Student Services, had 2,880 students registered in 2017-18 academic school year. That same year, nearly 1,000 students who were registered with SSD graduated from U-M.

The university’s commitment to equity and diversity by providing support services and academic accommodations to students with disabilities is far-reaching and has been a significant focus in the past several years of the Medical School.

The Medical School is currently leading efforts to ensure that qualified students with disabilities who want to become physicians do not experience barriers simply because they have a disability.

From highlighting the need for thoughtful admissions policies and progressive technical standards to identifying the numbers of students with disabilities, to capturing their lived experiences, researchers from U-M are working to ensure that medical educators understand — and are prepared to address — the nuanced needs of these learners.

Co-written by U-M researcher Lisa Meeks, the recent report “Accessibility, Inclusion, and Action in Medical Education: Lived Experiences of Learners and Physicians with Disabilities” lays out steps medical schools can take to lower the physical, cultural and administrative barriers that keep people with disabilities from seeking a career in medicine.

“I hope this report sparks critical conversations about disability inclusion in medical education and serves as a beacon for students with disabilities who aspire to be physicians but who had thought the barriers were too big to overcome,” says Meeks, a clinical lecturer and Institute for Health Policy and Innovation clinician scholar, who conducted the research while at the UCSF School of Medicine. Meeks is now on the faculty at the U-M Medical School.

“I also hope it inspires educators to think broadly about how disability intersects with medicine.”