Rights and Responsibilities of College Students with Learning Disabilities (LD)

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Legal Rights of College Students with LDstudents

Academic accommodations are required by law for eligible college students with LD. Accommodations are changes in the learning and testing environments that give college students with LD an equal opportunity to learn. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its amendments (ADAAA) require that reasonable accommodations be made available to college students who have current documentation of learning disabilities and who request learning and/or testing accommodations.

Student Responsibilities

Student responsibilities include the following:

  • To self-identify as a person with a disability to the disability services office at the college or university.
  • To provide up-to-date documentation of the disability to the disability services office.
  • To request academic accommodations that will insure access to information and testing on an equal level with students who do not have disabilities.
  • To self-identify to faculty as a student with a disability and provide them
    with a copy of the Individual Student Profile developed with the disability services office.
  • To remind faculty in a timely manner of academic accommodations required for tests and assignments.
  • To ultimately accept responsibility for his or her successful education. This includes maintaining satisfactory academic levels, attending classes, completing assignments, behaving appropriately, and communicating regularly with the appropriate office and/or individual regarding specific needs.

Disability Services Office Responsibilities

  • To assess students’ requests for accommodations using the current disability documentation provided by the students.
  • To provide information regarding policies, procedures, rights and responsibilities to students with disabilities in accessible formats upon request.
  • To recommend appropriate learning and testing accommodations.
  • To provide reasonable and appropriate accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids for students with disabilities who meet the college or university criteria for eligibility.
  • To ensure confidentiality of all information pertaining to students’ disabilities.
  • To assist students in communicating with faculty about their disabilities and required accommodations, if needed.

Faculty Responsibilities

If students request instructional and/or testing accommodations in a class, they must disclose the need for the accommodations to the instructor and give the instructor any documentation provided by the disability services office, typically a letter from that office validating the need for the specified accommodations. Students do not have to disclose their disabilities to their instructor, only the need for accommodations.

The instructors’ responsibilities include the following:

  • To allow students to disclose their disabilities in an appropriate and confidential place.
  • To acknowledge the rights of students with dignity and respect.
  • To maintain the integrity of academic standards.
  • To maintain student confidentiality at all times.
  • To provide reasonable instructional and/or testing accommodations.

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  1. Cindy Teague says:

    My son is a junior at a state college in New Mexico. He moved off campus with what he thought was permission from the correct authority. He has ADHD and dorm living was much too social and distracting for him. Now the school is saying they instituted a housing policy that mandates you must live on campus until you have 60 units or are 21 years of age (he is 20 now). He is in violation of the housing policy and being fined $3,000.00. Does this seem legally possible? We did not even know about the policy, but it is online. As the responsible financial party, we’re dumbfounded.

    • LDA of America says:

      Many colleges and universities have policies about requiring students to live on-campus until they reach a certain age. Some allow students to submit an application for an exemption to that policy, but it doesn’t sound like that’s what your son did. You may need to schedule a visit with the dean of the college to explain the situation, take what documents you have that show permission to live off-campus, and find out what your options are at this point. With luck, the college may waive that hefty fine and work with your son in the future to apply for an exemption to the on-campus residential rule.

  2. Alvaro Lopes says:

    How the IRLEN SYDROME can be classified based on ADAAA codes ?

    • LDA of America says:

      Irlen Syndrome is not listed as a disability in the DSM-5, nor is Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome, which is the actual term used for the symptoms associated with what some people call “Irlen” syndrome. So, colleges and universities are not required to provide accommodations for people who have this type of vision problem. (However, check with the specific college you are interested in to see iIf they might help.) Many people who have been told they have Irlen Syndrome can benefit from functional vision therapy, available through many local optometrists and/or ophthalmologists. The vision therapy trains the eyes to work together at the same time, thereby eliminating most or all of the behaviors and symptoms associated with Irlen syndrome. If the vision therapy is (1) not recommended by your optometrist, or (2) not as effective as you would like, you might also consider getting glasses with prisms built in, which can also force the eyes to work together better. In addition, you may want to explore the possibility of a reading disability, which includes many of the behaviors and symptoms associated with Irlen syndrome. With a learning disability in reading, you would qualify for services through college disability offices.

  3. Ashley Kelley says:

    I’m 36, an adult in college. I have Learning disabilities, signed up for my accommodations, but they haven’t been accommodated by 2 of my professional teachers. They have been a where of my disabilities from the start of day 1. Now it’s finals, I’m failing one of the two classes I’m speaking of. Discrimination is happening knowingly, based on my disabilities, due to no accommodations being provided. Substandard Education is thus taking place, I have no idea what to do. Is this legally a loud to happen? Why is this happening? How do I better my life if not given the opportunity to do so equally like everyone else? I Need help!!!

  4. Hello. I would very much like to learn exactly what my options are for going back to anytype of further education. Especially college. Even though I really don’t know if I am capable of achieving a degre. Not for the lack of confidence, or giving even one percent of everything I have. Its just I have tried before and failed. Not because I didn’t think I could but because I don’t even attempt to kid myself about my situation. Going through with a degree at age 20 would have not allowed me with the time to take care of my basic needs. I had no idea help exist. I just excepted my role in life and began working and using up my life and health for my way through. I have reached the point in life now where I understand my value as a disabled hunan. I don’t deserve to live like this. I was of course very good looking and extremely talented at sports so high school was pretty much given to me. I totally appreciate them for doing what they didn’t have to do. I will forever be thanthankful to my high school principle. Please know he did what he felt was only preparing me with at the HS diploma. Anyhow Iam sure you can see I need help just by reading this letter. I don’t even know exactly where to put commas or periods anymore. Please send me the info on me getting help with going back to college and actually leaning what Im going to need to pass. I am going to do this even if it winds up killing me. Id rather die trying then to just give myself away just ti afford to exist. Thank whoever reads this and believes in me enough to help. I promise not to let your efforts go to waste.

    • Jim Olofsson says:


      You can definitely make it thought college!

      I was diagnosed as being Dyslexic as a 3rd grader. I was pushed through lot of special education programs as a child and I thank my parents and teaches for all the help. I did not become a competent reader until my 8th grade. As you can guess that put me a good distance behind in all the associated skills that come with reading like, math, American History, reading comprehension and others. I ended up turning to drugs and alcohol for the last few years of grade school and the first few years of high school. Untimely that ended up in me being thrown out of my high school as a sophomore. I ended up doing well with my second chance at another school. This was a result of giving a dam and improvements in reading and comprehension.

      I started my college education in the community college system which I suggest if you are not settled on a career field. In my case I was embarrassed and not open to sharing my learning difficulties. In fact I hid these difficulties at all cost.

      My father was a Naval Aviator in the early part of his career and I developed his I had a passion for flying. This drove me untimely to a degree program in General Aviation (AAS). With this degree in hand I transferred to a state college and studied Aviation Management with a minor in Flight and Maintenance (BS). I also joined Army ROTC and upon graduation was commissioned and sent off to Flight School. My career in the Army spanned 28 years and during that time flew six different aircraft including both fixed and rotary wing and lived in 6 different countries.

      Ok truth be known I had a few falls starts in college and looked into two other career tracks (Physical Education, Outdoor and Therapeutic Recreation) before settling on Aviation. If I had to do it over again I would have looked for support networks for learning disabled students and identified my challenges to my university faculty. The accommodations that they would have provided would have been a big help. These accommodations include additional time for testing and assignments.

      The bottom line is dream big and set your goals high. In my opinion the only person that can really prevent you from reaching your goals is yourself! My goal was to become an astronaut for NASA. I only missed by little bit because of a medical disqualification. The officer that I shared a desk with when I was a test pilot made it so I have been living vicariously through his accomplishments. If you set your goals high if you fall short you may end up in a very nice position.

      Tail Winds and Soft Landings,


      (PS) I am now back in college working on my Masters in International Relations. Live like you will die tomorrow and Learn like you will live forever.

  5. My son started college but his testing was about 5 years old from grade 7. He is 17. They said he will need a new test to obtain accommodation services at college next year. Why does a new psychoeducational test matter, when his learning disability is “lifelong”? The testing is very expensive and he had an IEP all through high school. If a learning disability is life long, what is the point? All his accommodation is, is extra time on tests and/or a reader.

  6. I kinda knew that I have LD. From 2-8 grade I’ve gotten Ld related testing and help. But when I started high school I didn’t receive any help. I assumed that it would be on my records and continue but I was forced do learn on my own. I’m now in college and I wonder if ill be able to receive special needs because being a full timer is really difficult.

  7. Laura Ledesma says:

    I have a learning disability since I was in Jr. High School and High School. I showed proof that I have a learning disability to the college I’m attending. I’m taking classes online, my question is what else can the school provide for me besides extra time on assignments. I’m a person that don’t understand what I’m reading but if you show me what to do, then I’ll be able to do it. Lately, I’ve been having trouble understanding some assignments, so I message my instructor but it just seems I can’t understand it without an example. PLEASE HELP!!!!

  8. I was a student at an online school and was given absolutely no help to pass the math class that was required. I wound up taking it three times without passing. I asked for help and got nothing.

    Can online schools ignore requests for help?

    • ldaamerica says:

      Documentation can be provided to the school regarding your learning disability. If you are able to provide the proper documentation your school should provide the proper accommodations.


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