Disability Services in Higher Education
As students transition from high school to college, they may experience a variety of changes, including moving from home, taking more challenging classes, and increasing independence. Similarly, there are differences between how disabilities are addressed in high school and how they are addressed in college. Here are some key differences for students to be aware of regarding disability services in college:
|In high school...||In college...|
|Documentation||If a student received accommodations in high school, the disabilities documentation likely consisted of an IEP or a 504 plan. This documentation may or may not have included a diagnosis, and was likely focused on the student's academic performance in a variety of areas. In high school, the responsibility for obtaining this documentation lies with the school.||At the college level, although an IEP or 504 plan may provide helpful information, we need more specific information, including an evaluation completed by an appropriately credentialed practitioner, in order to provide academic accommodations. In college, the responsibility for obtaining this documentation lies with the student. Please see our Documentation Guidelines for detailed information about the essential components of disability documentation.|
|Confidentiality & FERPA||In high school, parents have full access to student records and school personnel communicate openly about the student’s academic records, struggles, interventions, etc.||In college, a release of information form must be signed before a staff or faculty member can share information with parents regarding academic performance or any other component of the student’s academic record. The right to such information lies with the student, even if parents are paying tuition or otherwise supporting the student. Please see the following website for additional information: http://web.reed.edu/registrar/pdfs/ferpa.pdf|
|Initiation of services||In high school, school personnel are responsible for identifying areas of disability or challenge, and providing accommodations accordingly.||In college, a student must inform the office of disability support services that he or she has a disability, provide the appropriate documentation and request accommodations before accommodations or supports can be initiated. Responsibility for initiating services lies with the student, and accommodations must be renewed each semester.|
These changes can be surprising and difficult to adjust to, particularly during a time of transition. We encourage students to contact the Director of Disability Support Services at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or concerns about these requirements.