Important Differences Between High School and College Supports for Students with Disabilities




High School  




Special Education


Disabilities Services

IDEA & Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act 

Americans with Disabilities Act and ADA Amendments Act of 2008, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act


Free appropriate public education



Education is a right and must be provided in an appropriate environment to all individuals.  

Education is an opportunity.  Students must meet certain admissions criteria defined under the ADA as “otherwise qualified”.  Students must also meet the criteria of the accepting institution such as health, character, technical standards, and conduct code and course objectives.  

The school district is responsible to identify a student’s disability.  

Students must self-identify to Disabilities Services to access accommodations and services. 

School district provides free testing and evaluation.

Students must provide documentation that supports the requests for accommodations.  Students are responsible for obtaining up-to-date evaluations and medical records. 

School district develops Individualized Education Plans (IEP) or 504 plan to define educational services.  

Student must identify needs and request services through Disabilities Services to develop a reasonable accommodation plan.  

IEP or 504 Plan determine services and school district must ensure that services are provided.  

A reasonable accommodation plan is available to eligible students.  IEP’s do not apply.  Disabilities Services will work closely with students to support implementation of accommodations by faculty.  

All teachers are contacted by Special Education staff.  

Students are responsible for presenting reasonable accommodations plans to faculty. 

Fundamental alteration of programs and curricula are required.  

No fundamental alterations of programs and curricula are required.  Students are given equal opportunity to pursue courses and they are evaluated against the same course objectives as other students. 

Student’s strengths and challenges are determined by specialists. 

Students are expected to develop self-advocacy skills.  Disabilities Services staff are available to work closely with students as they develop self-advocacy skills.

Personal services for medical or physical disability are required.

The college is not required to provide personal services. 

Disabilities Services may assist students in advertising for such services. 


* Adapted from Jeanne Kincaid, Esq., Presentations at AHEAD Annual Conferences 










May 1, 2010





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