Transitioning from High School to College
As a student with a disability leaving high school and entering postsecondary education, will I see differences in my rights and how they are addressed?
Yes. Section 504 and Title II protect elementary, secondary and postsecondary students from discrimination. Nevertheless, several of the requirements that apply through high school are different from the requirements that apply beyond high school. For instance, Section 504 requires a school district to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to each child with a disability in the district’s jurisdiction. Whatever the disability, a school district must identify an individual’s education needs and provide any regular or special education and related aids and services necessary to meet those needs as well as it is meeting the needs of students without disabilities.
Unlike your high school, your postsecondary school is not required to provide FAPE. Rather, your postsecondary school is required to provide appropriate academic adjustments as necessary to ensure that it does not discriminate on the basis of disability. In addition, if your postsecondary school provides housing to nondisabled students, it must provide comparable, convenient and accessible housing to students with disabilities at the same cost.
May a postsecondary school deny my admission because I have a disability?
No. If you meet the essential requirements for admission, a postsecondary school may not deny your admission simply because you have a disability.
Do I have to inform a postsecondary school that I have a disability?
No. However, if you want the school to provide an academic adjustment, you must identify yourself as having a disability. Likewise, you should let the school know about your disability if you want to ensure that you are assigned to accessible facilities. In any event, your disclosure of a disability is always voluntary.
What academic adjustments must a postsecondary school provide?
The appropriate academic adjustment must be determined based on your disability and individual needs. Academic adjustments may include auxiliary aids and modifications to academic requirements as are necessary to ensure equal educational opportunity.
Examples of such adjustments are:
- arranging for priority registration
- reducing a course load
- substituting one course for another
- providing note takers
- recording devices
- sign language interpreters
- extended time for testing
- equipping school computers with screen-reading, text-to-speech, voice recognition or other adaptive software or hardware
In providing an academic adjustment, your postsecondary school is not required to lower or effect substantial modifications to essential requirements. For example, although your school may be required to provide extended testing time, it is not required to change the substantive content of the test. In addition, your postsecondary school does not have to make modifications that would fundamentally alter the nature of a service, program or activity or would result in undue financial or administrative burdens. Finally, your postsecondary school does not have to provide personal attendants, individually prescribed devices, readers for personal use or study, or other devices or services of a personal nature, such as tutoring and typing.
If I want an academic adjustment, what must I do?
You must inform the school that you have a disability and need an academic adjustment. Unlike your school district, your postsecondary school is not required to identify you as having a disability or assess your needs.
Your postsecondary school may require you to follow reasonable procedures to request an academic adjustment. You are responsible for knowing and following these procedures. Postsecondary schools usually include, in their publications providing general information, information on the procedures and contacts for requesting an academic adjustment. Such publications include recruitment materials, catalogs, and student handbooks, and are often available on school Web sites. Many schools also have staff whose purpose is to assist students with disabilities. If you are unable to locate the procedures, ask a school official, such as an admissions officer or counselor.
When should I request an academic adjustment?
Although you may request an academic adjustment from your postsecondary school at any time, you should request it as early as possible. Some academic adjustments may take more time to provide than others. You should follow your school’s procedures to ensure that your school has enough time to review your request and provide an appropriate academic adjustment.
Do I have to prove that I have a disability to obtain an academic adjustment?
Generally, yes. Your school will probably require you to provide documentation that shows you have a current disability and need an academic adjustment.
What documentation should I provide?
Schools may set reasonable standards for documentation. Some schools require more documentation than others. They may require you to provide documentation prepared by an appropriate professional, such as a medical doctor, psychologist or another qualified diagnostician. The required documentation may include one or more of the following: a diagnosis of your current disability; the date of the diagnosis; how the diagnosis was reached; the credentials of the professional; how your disability affects a major life activity; and how the disability affects your academic performance. The documentation should provide enough information for you and your school to decide what is an appropriate academic adjustment.
Although an individualized education program (IEP) or Section 504 plan, if you have one, may help identify services that have been effective for you, it generally is not sufficient documentation. This is because postsecondary education presents different demands than high school education, and what you need to meet these new demands may be different. Also in some cases, the nature of a disability may change.
If the documentation that you have does not meet the postsecondary school’s requirements, a school official should tell you in a timely manner what additional documentation you need to provide. You may need a new evaluation in order to provide the required documentation.
Who has to pay for a new evaluation?
Neither your high school nor your postsecondary school is required to conduct or pay for a new evaluation to document your disability and your need for an academic adjustment. This may mean that you have to pay or find funding to pay an appropriate professional for an evaluation. If you are eligible for services through your state vocational rehabilitation agency, you may qualify for an evaluation at no cost to you. You may locate your state vocational rehabilitation agency through the following Web page:http://askjan.org/cgi-win/TypeQuery.exe?902.
Once the school has received the necessary documentation from me, what should I expect?
The school will review your request in light of the essential requirements for the relevant program to help determine an appropriate academic adjustment. It is important to remember that the school is not required to lower or waive essential requirements. If you have requested a specific academic adjustment, the school may offer that academic adjustment or an alternative one if the alternative would also be effective. The school may also conduct its own evaluation of your disability and needs at its own expense.
You should expect your school to work with you in an interactive process to identify an appropriate academic adjustment. Unlike the experience you may have had in high school, however, do not expect your postsecondary school to invite your parents to participate in the process or to develop an IEP for you.
What if the academic adjustment we identified is not working?
Let the school know as soon as you become aware that the results are not what you expected. It may be too late to correct the problem if you wait until the course or activity is completed. You and your school should work together to resolve the problem.
May a postsecondary school charge me for providing an academic adjustment?
No. Furthermore, it may not charge students with disabilities more for participating in its programs or activities than it charges students who do not have disabilities.
What can I do if I believe the school is discriminating against me?
Practically every postsecondary school must have a person—frequently called the Section 504 Coordinator, ADA Coordinator, or Disability Services Coordinator—– who coordinates the school’s compliance with Section 504 or Title II or both laws. You may contact this person for information about how to address your concerns.
The school must also have grievance procedures. These procedures are not the same as the due process procedures with which you may be familiar with from high school. However, the postsecondary school’s grievance procedures must include steps to ensure that you may raise your concerns fully and fairly and must provide for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints.
School publications, such as student handbooks and catalogs, usually describe the steps you must take to start the grievance process. Often, schools have both formal and informal processes. If you decide to use a grievance process, you should be prepared to present all the reasons that support your request.
If you are dissatisfied with the outcome from using the school’s grievance procedures or you wish to pursue an alternative to using the grievance procedures, you may file a complaint against the school with OCR or in a court. You may learn more about the OCR complaint process from the brochure How to File a Discrimination Complaint with the Office for Civil Rights, which you may obtain by contacting us at the addresses and phone numbers below, or at http://www.ed.gov/ocr/docs/howto.html.
If you would like more information about the responsibilities of postsecondary schools to students with disabilities, read the OCR brochure Auxiliary Aids and Services for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities: Higher Education's Obligations Under Section 504 and Title II of the ADA. You may obtain a copy by contacting us at the address and phone numbers below, or at http://www.ed.gov/ocr/docs/auxaids.html.
Students with disabilities who know their rights and responsibilities are much better equipped to succeed in postsecondary school. We encourage you to work with the staff at your school because they, too, want you to succeed. Seek the support of family, friends and fellow students, including those with disabilities. Know your talents and capitalize on them, and believe in yourself as you embrace new challenges in your education.
Applying to EKU
Is the application process different because I have a disability?
No, the application process is same as it is for all students. Applicants with disabilities are part of the regular application pool and considered based on the same criteria as all students. Apply to EKU.
Should I provide information about my disability in my application?
Deciding whether to disclose a disability is a personal decision. The University can’t ask if you have a disability during the application process. However, some students feel that how they have successfully handled the challenges of their disability reveals the uniqueness and strength of their personality and choose to write about it in their application essay.
Should I include documentation with my application?
It is not necessary to include medical or educational testing with your application. You are welcome to send documentation to the Disabilities Office in preparation for enrolling or to inquire as to what accommodations you would be eligible to receive.
What documentation do you need?
Information from a medical professional must be provided to the Disability Office to be eligible for services and reasonable accommodations. The documentation must be current and state a diagnosis of a disability and the functional limitations it causes. If you have questions about documentation, please contact the Director of the Disability Office.
Does the University have a quota for the number of students with disabilities that are admitted each year?
No. Each year approximately 40–50 admitted students identify as having a disability. However, there is not a quota set, and the number may be lower or higher depending on a number of factors.
Is there a separate application to receive services from Disability Services?
What do I need to do to receive testing accommodations?
The first thing you need to do is provide the Disability Services office with documentation of your disability. For example, if you have a learning disability or ADHD, appropriate documentation would be a copy of the diagnostic report with results of the tests you were given as well as the evaluator’s interpretation, diagnosis, summary, and recommendations. Students with other types of disabilities should provide similar information from their doctor.
Second, you need to schedule an appointment with Center for Student Accessibilities (CSA). A representative from the CSA will discuss with you what specific accommodations you feel you need. Based on this meeting and a review of your documentation, CSA Staff will determine what accommodations you will be eligible to request.