Differences in the Law
Differences in the Law Between High School and College
As students with disabilities move from high school to college, they and their parents should understand that the process of deciding who is eligible to receive accommodations and what those accommodations may be differs substantially. In high school, the school rather than the student or the student's family are often involved in identifying and diagnosing students with disabilities and often initiate the whole process for the student.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) governs the circumstances under which universities provide accommodations to students with disabilities. Neither Section 504 nor the ADA requires a college or university to alter a fundamental requirement of its academic program for a student with a disability. Furthermore, college students must self-identify themselves to the Director of Disability Support Services and formally request accommodations and services. The student must take responsibility for initiating this process. In contrast to the IDEA, whose goal is to ensure student success, the goal of Section 504 and the ADA, as they apply to college students, is to ensure that students with disabilities have access to the programs and activities that the college offers and that those students are not discriminated against on the basis of their disability.
|Free and appropriate education guaranteed by law||The law does not guarantee admission to a college or university|
|School is obligated to seek out and identify students with disabilities||The student is responsible for locating the disability services office and inquiring how they can receive services.|
|Obligation to evaluate students with disabilities||No obligation to evaluate students with disabilities|
|Must alter course content if necessary||No obligation to alter content of courses or evaluation system|
|Student's progress is monitored by school staff||Student's progress is his/her own responsibility|
|School will seek out students to provide accommodations||Students must self-identify and self-advocate for accommodations|
This list was adapted from Counseling Secondary Students with Learning Disabilities by Michael Koehler and Marybeth Kravets.
For further information on the differences between college and high school accommodations click here