Prepare Yourself!

Given that you now have a high school diploma, your Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan may not automatically transfer to your college or university. But, according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) you are still eligible for accommodations if you so require in order to succeed.

Before college

High school students planning to attend higher education should have a transition plan in place early in high school that addresses academic and vocational goals as well as accommodations that can also be used in college. Consider having a re-evaluation completed with a diagnosis BEFORE leaving high school (i.e., in your senior year) as some colleges and universities will require a recent evaluation in order for you to get services.

Before a student with an IEP or 504 plan graduates high school, the school district is required to complete a Summary of Performance which gives the nature of the student’s disability, an outline of what services they have received at the school, a summary of the progress made, and recommendations for services and/or supports they will continue to need. Books such as the K&W Guide to Colleges For Students With Learning Disabilities or Attention Deficit Disorder, 6th Edition can help students identify schools that specialize in learning disabilities.

What you will need to do to qualify for accommodations
  1. Prior to making application, you may want to talk with someone in admissions or the learning disabilities support office to find out what documentation is required for that school and what kinds of services can be offered.
  2. The burden of proof for disability documentation rests with you. You will want to have a copy of your history from diagnosis of dyslexia through its progression over time to current status.
  3. Be prepared to provide your college or university with recent documentation of your learning disability. Generally, colleges and universities require documentation of a disability within the past three years. Some may request more recent documentation. Be sure you know what that is in case you need to have your skills re-assessed.
Getting Accommodations
  1. Once admitted, get in touch with the Office of Disability Services to discuss accommodations.
  2. Ask where you might find individual tutoring or one-on-one assistance within the system.
  3. Know that the school has the right to refuse an accommodation if it believes it will fundamentally alter its basic mission. This occurs when a student requests a waiver of a graduation requirement, such as an exemption from a foreign language. Most colleges and universities are willing to work with you, though.
  4. Talk with each of your professors about your strengths and weaknesses and your specific learning accommodations.
  5. Demonstrate to your professors that you are serious about your learning – get to class on time, come prepared, do your work, and importantly, if you get behind go see him or her right away!
Types of Accommodations you may find helpful
  • Priority registration
  • Housing convenient to classrooms, libraries, assistive technology lab, etc.
  • Academic tutors
  • Textbooks in an alternate format
  • Permission to take tests in a quiet, non distracting environment
  • Extra time for examinations, tests and quizzes
  • Extra time to complete all written assignments
  • Testing over several sessions.
  • Instructions from professors to be given orally
  • Review of material presented in class and or assistance with note taking
  • Audio tapes of books to be listened to for reading assistance
  • Tape recorded messages and instructions
  • Reading machines
  • Screen reading “text-to-speech” computer software
  • Scanners for entering printed material into the computer
  • Course substitutions
  • Reduced course load
When accommodations aren’t honored
  1. Talk to the professor teaching the class.
  2. Get assistance from the Office of Disability Services staff.
  3. Talk with the administrator in the department or to the Dean’s office.
  4. Find out what the school’s internal grievance procedure is and work with the Office of Disability Services to follow it.
  5. In extreme cases, and when none of the above is successful, you can file complaints with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights or the U.S. Department of Justice for violation of Sections 504 or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  6. Basic rights covered by Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA)

    • Expands the definition of disability under the orignial Americans with Disabilities Act, preventing discrimination in employment and in public and private settings
    • Protects children and adults with disabilities
    • Applies to all public and most private schools and colleges, testing agencies, licensing authorities, and state and local governments

Importantly, be an informed student. Make sure you know your rights when it comes to disability education. You are your best advocate!

Check out NCLD's additional resource: Getting Access to Assistive Technology in College and GED Testing Service's Accommodations page.