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The REACH Program
college for learning disabled students

A post-secondary program for students with multiple learning and intellectual disabilities.

The University of Iowa
College of Education

A Two-Year Certificate Program

240 S. Madison
229S Lindquist Center
Iowa City, IA 52242

Phone: (319) 384-2127
Fax: (319)384-2167



About the REACH Program

The University of Iowa REACH Program creates a living-learning campus experience where young adults with multiple learning and cognitive disabilities are empowered to become independent, engaged members of their community. Coursework, campus life, and career preparation assist students to reach their full potential through a two-year, comprehensive certificate program. Post-program support is offered to provide assistance as students transition to their community.

The UI REACH vision is to empower young adults to become independent, self-determined individuals whose lives are personally rewarding.

The UI REACH mission is to provide an integrated Big Ten University experience which equips young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to achieve greater independence through campus involvement, career development, coursework, and residence hall living. We strive to develop and implement best practices in post-secondary education within our field through collaborative research. Core aspects of REACH include:

  • Academics and Lifelong Learning: Demonstrate lifelong learning skills, including practical academic skills
  • Career and Vocation: Demonstrate understanding of individual career exploration and workplace readiness
  • Community and Leisure: Demonstrate preparedness for community life and leisure activities
  • Independent and Daily Life: Demonstrate competence in independent and daily life skills
  • Self-Advocacy and Self-Determination: Demonstrate the use of self-advocacy and self-determination skills
  • Social and Interpersonal: Engage appropriately in social and interpersonal interactions

Core UI REACH classes are taught by instructors trained to meet unique learning needs. These courses provide small-group instruction, hands-on learning, and real-world opportunities. Students also participate in integrated classes with undergraduate peers. Classes follow The University of Iowa academic calendar.

The person-centered planning approach is used by advisors to develop goals and monitor progress.

Students receive academic enrichment and support through an academic success class, small group study sessions, and personal advising.

Student Life
UI REACH students experience campus life with other University of Iowa students through participation in cultural and social events, theater performances, student clubs, and sporting events among many other opportunities. With the support of peer mentors, students are encouraged to discover the leisure and recreational opportunities offered on the University campus. Students apply their enhanced life and independent skills in real-world experiences.

Living away from home, while attending a college program, is an important way to learn independent life and social skills. All UI REACH students live with a UI REACH roommate and share in the residence hall community with many other undergraduate students. The hall experience offers an engaging and exciting experience for a UI REACH student to gain independence, build relationships, practice daily living skills, and participate in a myriad of activities.

UI REACH staff teach students about healthy lifestyles, daily routines, decision-making, problem-solving, and life skills.

UI REACH Resident Assistants (RAs) are specifically trained and live in the UI REACH hall community, attend activities with our students, support students in their transition, and handle situations that may arise in the residence hall. A professional UI REACH staff member is on-call 24 hours a day.

UI REACH students are encouraged to get involved in residence hall and campus organizations to interact with their peers and develop leadership skills.

Career Development
UI REACH focuses on two key factors for success in career development. One is classroom study where UI REACH students receive career from staff, community agencies, and employers through core career education classes. Instruction includes selecting a realistic career, job search strategies, applications and resumes, and interviewing aspects.

The second key factor is experiential learning through internships, job-shadow experiences, portfolio development, and job interviewing. These opportunities build and practice necessary skills and confidence to enhance career potential in inclusive work environments. UI REACH provides a variety of internships, volunteer, and work experiences with area employers. Possible internship areas may include, but are not limited to: Adult Care, Animal Care, Clerical, Child Care, Health Care, Hospitality, Landscaping/Outdoor Work, Marketing/Retail and Technology.

UI REACH provides the roadmap - the tools and training - to guide students toward their educational and career goals. Students also have the option of earning a career focus area to be listed on the UI REACH Certificate of Completion. Students must complete a minimum of 60 internship hours in the career focus area and complete a career seminar specific to the chosen career area.

UI REACH has an active Employment Advisory Council (EAC) comprised of volunteer employers and business people from Iowa that meet regularly to offer guidance to the program regarding internships, curriculum, community awareness and marketing.

Post Program
For two years after program completion, UI REACH alumni, their families, and employers have access to consultative services through UI REACH. These services will help alumni identify resources that will help them with career development and independent living.

EXTEND, is the UI REACH family alumni association. The goal of the group is to keep families connected after their UI REACH experience through positive social networking.

Admissions Process
UI REACH recognizes the unique attributes of each UI REACH applicant and seeks to identify those who are most likely to benefit from the UI REACH experience. The application and interview process are designed to determine the compatibility of an applicant's learning performance, current life skills, motivation, and job interests with the program goals.

The first step in the process is for students, families, educators, transition specialists, and service providers to schedule a UI REACH tour prior to beginning the application process. Please contact the UI REACH Program by scheduling a tour or requesting information at, calling the office at 319-384-2127, or e-mailing

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