One of the most often asked questions has to do with how to access disability services at the college level. Parents and students are often confused, but they are not the only ones. Some special educators and guidance counselors in the schools don’t know the real score either.
There are a few things to remember when it comes to college disability services. Having an IEP or Section 504 plan in high school does not guarantee services at the post secondary level. Colleges make their own determinations of whether or not a student has a disability.
The process is this:
A student needs to “self-disclose” a disabling condition to the college’s disabilities services office. When a student wants to access services, he or she needs to go and meet with the folks in the disabilities services office, discuss with them the kind of disability he/she might have, provide documentation of the disability, and request assistance.
Disabilities Services staff will then review the documentation and evaluations provided to them, and if the student qualifies as a student needing services under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the student will be offered an “accommodation plan”.
The best way to prepare your student for accessing college level services is to work with the high school team on a proper transition plan. Make sure the courses the student is in during high school are preparing him for the rigors of college. Then, make sure the documentation of the disability will be up to date when the student enters college (done within the last 3 years). Also, make sure your student can speak about his strengths and challenges, and that he is well able to communicate his needs.
Help does exist at the post secondary level, but rather than the school coming to the student and asking him if he needs help, the student needs to take control of the situation, and ask for the assistance and follow through with the recommendations of the disabilities services office.
A good website to look through as a resource can be found here:
NHTI Learning Center and Disabilities Services Office Website