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Students With Disabilities Often Face Additional Transitional Changes at the Postsecondary Level.

In high school, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulates services for a student with a disability. The emphasis is on the school’s responsibility to identify and provide accommodations for the student with a disability. The special education teachers are to draw up Individual Education Plans (IEP’s) for the student and try to help the student meet the academic goals. 

At the college level, however, there is an entirely different set of circumstances governed by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The responsibility shifts from the school to the student. A student must find the service providers on campus, provide documentation of the disability, and request accommodations, if needed. If new documentation is needed, the student must bear the cost of testing. Each student must become a self-advocate. The university is responsible for providing the student with reasonable accommodations, but it is the student who must prove eligibility and request services. 

While it is not practical to list them all, there are some key points to know. The changes reflect the fact that the college student is no longer a minor and is now responsible for making decisions as to his or her education.

Examples of How Accessibilty Services Differ in College

legislation iconPrimary Legislation High School: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 ofthe Rehabilitation Act of 1973. College: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Americans withDisabilities Act of 1990.
Assessment icon Assessment High School: School conducts assessment and provides student with documentation of disability. College: Student must providecurrent documentation of disability by a qualified professional.
Services and Meeting icon Services and Meetings High School: School initiates services and sets up meetings for student (e.g., IEP, 504). College: Student initiates requests for services, accommodations and meetings with university staff.
education goals icon Education Goals High School: School often creates and monitors progress for student. College: Student develops and monitors own progress.
workload icon Course Workload High School: May be modified. College: Will not be modified.
Homework icon Homework High School: May consist of one to two hours of study time per day, much of it done in class. College: Student can expect to study two to three times the number of hours spent in class per week.
reading icon Reading High School: Requirements for classes may be done with minimal outside work. College: College is a reading intensive environment— analytical skills are required.
accomodation icon Accomodations High School: Determined by broader educational and legal mandates. College: Determined by impact of disability, qualified individual and based on individual need.