This is the time of year that many high school seniors begin looking into college applications and the excitement of furthering their education. There are several options available for individuals with disabilities or special needs to help them in this endeavor.

Microsoft’s College Diversity Program works with colleges and universities to help students continue their education and learn the knowledge and necessary skills to thrive in the competitive technology industry. Part of this commitment is a DisAbility Scholarship which specifically supports students with special needs who wish to pursue a two or four year college and/or graduate studies in computer science and related fields.

This scholarship program’s mission “is to empower and enable high school students with disabilities to (a) go to college, (b) realize the impact technology has on the world, and (c) target a career in the technology industry.”

One of the primary goals is to increase the number of qualified individuals with disabilities entering higher education who will become participants in the tech field.

The $5,000 non-renewable scholarship is awarded to high school seniors with a financial need who show the potential to successfully complete a vocational or academic college program.

For information visit www.microsoft.com/en-us/diversity/programs/microsoftdisabilityscholarship.aspx.

Another technology-related scholarship program is the Apple Scholars through Apple Computers. This program, recognizing the academic and creative abilities of outstanding high school seniors offers tuition grants, free Apple Nano iPods and laptop computers to take to college. Applicants must use Apple inspiration to create innovative technology “concept’ pieces.

Apple also offers education discounts for students with special pricing on computers and software helping to reduce the costs of today’s higher learning institutions. Visit the website: www.applescholars.com.

There are numerous websites on the internet with information about scholarships for individuals with special needs such as www.collegescholarship.org; www.disabled-word.com/disability/education/scholarships; www.scholarshipsstudents.com and www.ncld.org.

PEOPLE FIRST: People First of NOLA is a club for adults with developmental disabilities which offers members the opportunity to meet new people, learn self-advocacy skills and become part of a group of peers. Members learn to speak up for themselves while learning their rights and responsibilities as citizens.

If you are interested contact FHF of SELA at (504) 943-0343 or (877)-243-7352 (toll free). People First meets on the third Tuesday of the month at 4:30 p.m. , 2372 St. Claude Ave., New Orleans.

Jane Pic Adams is the mother of an adult daughter with Down syndrome. She can be reached at jpa.article@gmail.com.