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My daughter has been in Special Education since elementary school but her high school would not agree to update her testing before graduation. Should her documentation be recent to get disability accommodations or services in college?

You ask an excellent question about the need for ‘recent’ disability documentation. Each college or university develops their own policy for reviewing student documentation, determining barriers to education, and providing needed accommodations. When looking at schools for your daughter, read through the documentation policy for each disability office. Ask questions about what type of evaluation material is needed and how current it must be to access accommodations at their institution. Schools can vary greatly in what they require to determine accommodations for students with disabilities. The Association of Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) is another excellent resource for information about disability services in the post-secondary setting. AHEAD provides the following explanation on their website about current, relevant and recent documentation:

 

“Disability documentation should be current and relevant but not necessarily “recent”. Disabilities are typically stable lifelong conditions. Therefore, historic information, supplemented by interview of self-report, is often sufficient to describe how the condition impacts the student at the current time and in the current circumstances. Institutions should not establish blanket statements that limit the age of acceptable external documentation”. (www.ahead.org)

My professor refuses to give me my accommodations; what can I do?

You should discuss the issue with the college’s office for disabled student services. The processes and procedures used by colleges for providing accommodations vary greatly but all are directed towards ensuring equal access to their programs for students with disabilities. The office can guide you through the appropriate actions you need to take or they may need to intercede. You may need to utilize the college’s appeals process or file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights, both of which are processes that are generally used if all other avenues have failed.   (https://www.ahead.org)

My doctor says I should get unlimited time for taking tests. The disability office says I’m allowed time and a half – why?

The college has the responsibility under Federal law for ensuring access to their programs and activities by students with disabilities. Often, the office for disabled student services is delegated the authority to make decisions on what is regarded as reasonable adjustments to ensure equal access because they have the knowledge, credentials, and experience to do this. The office often uses medical or other professional documentation provided by the student as a basis for making such decisions but they are not required to follow exactly the recommendations made in the documentation provided. If you feel the decision is not fair or appropriate, you may utilize the college’s appeal process or file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights.  (https://www.ahead.org)

How do I find out what my rights are in college?

The college may very well provide you this information in the admission packet. Prior to that, you can go online to Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Dept. of Education’s page: http://www.ed.gov/policy/rights/guid/ocr/disability.html which provides access to the Federal law and regulations as well as some FAQ’s. You may also contact the college’s office for disabled student services which can provide you information on Federal, state, local, and campus regulations that you should know.  (https://www.ahead.org)

Are there any scholarships for students with disabilities?

Generally, no, there are no Federally-funded scholarship or loan programs specifically targeted to students with disabilities. However, there may be local or regional scholarships or loan programs established by eleemosynary or charitable organizations for which you might be eligible. You should contact the Student Aid Office at the colleges you are considering; they are knowledgeable about the various scholarships and loan programs available and often can give you a list which describes the qualifications and application deadlines required for the various loans and scholarships. If you are not a client of Vocational Rehabilitation, you may wish to apply for services from VR to see if you are eligible and could receive support.

The HEATH Resource Center produces a helpful guide to scholarship and other funding sources. Look for the “Financial Aid Guide” publication at https://www.heath.gwu.edu/.  (https://www.ahead.org)

Should I tell about my disability on my application to college?

You are not required to disclose your disability at any time and the college is prohibited by Federal law from asking you about a disability on the application form. If you believe your disability has had a negative impact on your grades and test scores and, thus, those scores do not truly reflect your ability to do college level work, then it might benefit you to explain that to the admission officer or committee. However, this is a personal decision that you should also discuss with knowledgeable folks such as your parents, school counselor, vocational rehabilitation counselor, or even someone at the college. Often, once a student has been accepted, the college will give incoming students information regarding the office or offices that provide services for students with disabilities as well as time frames for requesting accommodations. It is, then, up to you to contact the appropriate officials if you feel you will need services.  (https://www.ahead.org)

How can I find out more information about my rights as a college student with learning disabilities?

“Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities”            http://www.ed.gov/ocr/transition.html

The information in this pamphlet, provided by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U. S. Department of Education, explains the rights and responsibilities of students with disabilities who are preparing to attend postsecondary schools. This pamphlet also explains the obligations of a postsecondary school to provide academic adjustments, including auxiliary aids and services, to ensure the school does not discriminate on the basis of disability.

Job Accommodation Network (http://www.jan.wvu.edu)

JAN, a free consulting service designed to increase the employability of people with disabilities by: 1) providing individualized worksite accommodations solutions, 2) providing technical assistance regarding the ADA and other disability related legislation, and 3) educating callers about self-employment options.  (https://www.ahead.org)

We just bought an adapted laptop for our daughter. Can the college help pay for any special equipment for her?

The college is responsible for ensuring that their programs and activities are accessible to students with disabilities. If this means that physical modifications are needed such as a raised desk or lowered laboratory table, then the college takes care of that. Special equipment of a personal nature is not necessarily paid for by a college. However, the distinctions between modified equipment for accessibility and personal special equipment can vary so it is always best to discuss these issues with the disabled student services personnel at the college. If your daughter is a client of Vocational Rehabilitation, she should be discussing these issues with her counselor as well.

Find your state vocational rehabilitation office: http://www.workworld.org/wwwebhelp/state_vocational_rehabilitation_vr_agencies.htm

WorkWORLD™ is decision support software for personal computers designed to help people with disabilities, advocates, benefit counselors, and others explore and understand how to best use the work incentives associated with the various Federal and State disability and poverty benefit programs. It automates the computation of benefits, and takes into account the complex interaction of income, benefit programs, and work incentives.

(https://www.ahead.org)

How does my son get special arrangements for the SAT?

You must make arrangements with Educational Testing Services (ETS) who administer the SAT. Usually, the high school officials who have been working with your son or the school official responsible for administering the SAT should have all the information necessary and should be assisting with the process. Of course, you could contact ETS directly to find out what would be necessary. You should plan on this well in advance of any scheduled administration of the exam.

(https://www.ahead.org)

My child will need some extra help to understand the class material. Can someone help him with that?

The short answer is possibly, more than likely probably; however, you may have to pay for it yourself. Because of Federal guidelines, colleges are not mandated to provide tutorial services to ensure access to their educational programs. Often, colleges provide tutorial services to all their students and, if so, they must ensure that the tutorial programs are accessible. Because of the wide range and variety of tutorial services offered by colleges, this would be a mandatory issue to bring up to the colleges your child is considering to attend.

(https://www.ahead.org)