Help for Your College-Bound Child

Staying informed about disability education is critical to providing your child the best learning resources upon entering a university. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) may help carry over accommodations from your student's IEP or 504 Plan that aren't automatically transferred from high school to college. Outlined below are tips to ensure you and your student know your rights and receive the support you need.


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 child's senior year) as some colleges and universities will require a recent evaluation in order 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 he has received at the school, a summary of the progress made, and recommendations for services and/or supports he 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.

For colleges that require a SAT or ACT score, make sure the student and his or her school requests testing accommodations from the College Board. In the past, accommodations for these standardized tests have only been granted after a lengthy approval process, but as of January 2017 the College Board is making the approval process for SAT/ACT accommodations much more accessible. Students who require separate testing rooms, extra time, and other accommodations will have an easier time getting the accommodations they need, and, hopefully, an easier time preparing for college!

What you will need to do to qualify for accommodations

  1. Prior to making an 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 and your child. 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 the college or university with recent documentation of your child's 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 child's skills re-assessed.

Getting accommodations

  1. Once admitted, get in touch with your school's 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. Your child should talk with each of her professors about her strengths and weaknesses and specific learning accommodations.
  5. He should demonstrate to his professors that he is serious about his learning—get to class on time, come prepared, do the work, and importantly, if he gets behind, go see the professor right away!

Types of accommodations your child 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 parent and student. Make sure you know your rights when it comes to disability education. You and your child are the best advocates!