IDEA vs. Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The transition from high school to college can be a challenging process for students with disabilities. The laws governing college/university education are different from those governing K-12 and so is the accommodation process. Students with disabilities who received accommodations in high school should be aware that colleges/universities do not necessarily provide the same accommodations and/or supports set forth in their IEP or 504 Plan and in some cases, may conclude that the student does not meet the criteria to qualify for accommodations. What follows is an explanation of some of the key differences between IDEA (governing K-12) and 504/ADA (governing post-secondary education).
- Identify students with disabilities.
- Provide periodic assessments of learning and other disabilities at no cost to the parents.
- Involve parents in decision-making and ensure that all decisions are made by a team.
- Provide non-academic and related services.
- Structure the student’s weekly schedule.
- Modify educational programs, including the curriculum.
- Prepare Individual Education Plans (IEPs)or 504 plans on an annual basis.
- Provide a free and appropriate education.
- Monitor the implementation of the student’s plans and change them if the student is not successful.
- Periodically notify the parents about the student’s performance in relationship to his/her IEP goals.
- Address behavioral issues without expelling a student for disability-related misconduct.
- Protect the student’s right to privacy and confidentiality (this includes conversations with parents).
- Provide access to programs and services that are offered to non-disabled students.
- Make information available to students regarding office locations and procedures for requesting accommodations.
documentation which is submitted by the student at the student’s
expense. In consultation with the student, the college determines
whether the student is disabled and what accommodations may be
appropriate and necessary.
whether the student’s disability substantially limits the ability to
read, learn, hear, speak, sleep, breathe, walk, see, perform manual
tasks or care for oneself.
Substantially Limits means
unable to perform a major life activity, or significantly restricted as
to the condition, manner, or duration under which a major life activity
can be performed, in comparison to the average person or most people.
(Jane Jarrow, 1992).
- Determine whether
a student is otherwise qualified, with or without accommodations, and
whether reasonable accommodations are possible.
reasonable accommodations at no cost to the student which are necessary
for the student to access the educational program. A college is not
obligated to provide accommodations that would maximize the student’s
potential and a college is not required to substantially modify its
program or lower its academic standards.
- Provide reasonable and equal access to generally available programs.
reasonable classroom adjustments that do not alter the integrity or
essential components or technical standards of a course or program.
- Ensure that students participating in off-campus programs are afforded equal access.
- Inform students of their rights and responsibilities.
- Reduce or waive the essential requirements of a course or program.
- Provide disability assessment.
- Provide specially designed instruction; but rather must ensure that instruction and educational materials are made accessible.
- Provide personal attendants or any service or device that is personal in nature.
- Provide tutorial support beyond what is available to all students.
- Prepare IEPs or plans.
- Ensure a student reaches his/her maximum potential.
- Keep parents informed.
- Monitor a student’s performance.
- Alter its conduct code.
his/her disability to the appropriate office and providing
documentation in a timely manner. The college has the right to
establish its own documentation policy and timeline.
- Identifying appropriate accommodations, which are supported by the student’s documentation.
- Acting on his/her own behalf as an independent adult. It is the student’s job to advocate for himself/herself, not the parent’s.
- Discussing classroom and testing accommodations in a timely manner with instructors in accordance with college policy.
- Arranging for personal attendants or specifically designed assistive technologies that are personal in nature.
- Working together with the dean of students office in securing and implementing accommodations.
the dean of students office when the student is having difficulty
securing accommodations or is dissatisfied with the quality or
effectiveness of the accommodations.
- Meeting all
of the college program’s or degree’s essential academic and technical
standards, with or without reasonable accommodation.
*Some of this material was borrowed from Lehigh University's Web page.
high school, students with diagnosed disabilities are entitled to
specific services and accommodations. In college, the severity and
degree of functional impact of the disability is taken into
consideration when determining whether accommodations are appropriate—a
diagnosis alone does not determine eligibility. Also, these
accommodations are intended to provide access, not ensure success.
Students who attend college are considered to be adults, protected by
the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). With limited
exceptions, college staff may not talk to parents about confidential
information, including academic activities. Parents need to talk to the
student directly. Students act as responsible adults when disclosing
disabilities and requesting accommodations.
requirements are different at every school. It is the student’s
responsibility to know and understand the college’s documentation
policy and procedures. Documentation should be current, verify the
disability, describe the extent/severity of the impairment, provide
information on the functional impact of the disability, and suggest
appropriate accommodations that may be necessary for the student to be
successful in college.