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Legal Considerations Part 2: What accommodations DOES a college provide for my student?

Yesterday, we reviewed the differences in between the protections of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA at the K-12 level and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, or Section 504, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) at the college level.   Remember, the distinction between these regulations is that Section 504 and ADA are civil rights protections, not entitlement programs, and so they are very different in their approaches.   Today, let’s review what college can (and cannot) do when it comes to granting accommodations for your student.

Because there are no guidelines under IDEA, Section 504, or ADA that require colleges and universities to accept documentation that does not meet their guidelines, each college has the right to develop its own guidelines and adhere to them.  For that reason, campus attitudes and services can vary greatly.  However, under the provisions of Section 504, colleges and universities cannot:

  • Limit the number of students with learning challenges that accept for admission
  • Ask questions on applications that require a student to disclose a disability
  • Ask students to complete preadmissions tests without academic assistance when eligible
  • Exclude a qualified student from a particular course of study or major
  • Counsel student with a disability out of a particular program due to the disability
  • Limit eligibility to students with disabilities for scholarships, internships, assistantships, or financial aid

Remember, each college will determine appropriate academic adjustments based on the area of disability and individual needs. Some services, however, are mandatory.

Examples of these services are:

  • Extra time on exams
  • Allowing tests to be individually proctored, read orally, dictated, or taken on computer
  • The use of a system to provide notes
  • Adaptive technology that includes computer hardware and software that allows students to access materials.

Keep in mind that many colleges offer services beyond what the law dictates.  Most college campuses welcome students with disabilities and have existing policies and procedures in place that make requesting accommodations an easy, worry-free process.  These schools provide access to learning centers and learning specialists and offer developmental courses, tutoring services, and study skill workshops.  To learn more about the specific services a college provides, ask the Office of Disability Services about all of the services and aids offered on campus.

Heather Creech
Expert in College Placement for Students with Learning Disabilities

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