Disability Services at the College Level
There are many differences between how disability services are provided at the K-12 level and at the post-secondary level. 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.
At the college level students must request services. Students must self-identify to the Coordinator of Disability Services as having a disability and present appropriate documentation to the office. This must be done every semester for which the student wants accommodations. Even if the Coordinator and an instructor know that a student has a disability and is eligible for an accommodation, if the student doesn’t request it, we cannot provide it.
- College students have the right to not take advantage of an accommodation or related services. For example, a college student who is eligible for extra time on an exam has the right to take the exam without extra time. This can be done even when an accommodation letter from Disability Services has been provided to an instructor by the student.
- College students must notify their instructors directly as to their accommodation needs. Disability Services will not, as a general rule, contact instructors for students. The Coordinator will provide the student with an accommodation letter, but it is the student’s responsibility to provide this letter to his or her instructors.
- Colleges are not obligated to provide the exact same accommodations as were given at any point from K-12. Even if an accommodation is listed on a 504 Plan or other document, the Disability Services office may determine that it is not reasonable at the college level.
Parents are no longer required to sign off on a 504 Plan or similar document. The student now has primary responsibility for ensuring that his or her disability-related needs are met.
How Parents Can Help
The following are some important ways parents can help:
- Encourage your son or daughter to take advantage of available services. While services cannot be forced upon a student, it is in the student’s best interest to know what services he or she is eligible for.
- Encourage your son or daughter to meet with Disability Services staff at the start of each semester. Even if a student doesn’t want services or accommodations, it is helpful for the student to discuss this with a staff member. It also helps us be aware of how each student is doing and makes it easier to offer assistance should the student change their mind during the course of a semester.
- Encourage your son or daughter to meet with Disability Services at least once more during the semester to check in and let us know if they need any additional services or assistance. Some good times are a few weeks before mid-term exams and evaluations, and a few weeks before finals and end-of-the-semester evaluations. Students are, of course, welcome anytime.
- Encourage your son or daughter to familiarize themselves with the contents of this webpage and to work with the Coordintor of Disability Services.
- Encourage your son or daughter to speak up for him or herself and to be his or her own best advocate.
- Encourage your son or daughter to meet regularly with his or her instructors to get feedback as to their progress in class, and to check in with the advisor as well.