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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Feel free to leave a comment below regarding this article. If you have a specific question for LDA, please contact us directly.


  1. christen ellisor says

    Hi, I am an adult whom is trying to find out evaluation sites for a learning disability that I believe I have. I have struggled with math since the second degree. Now I am a college student, and need to know where I should go to test. My Voc Rehab counselor suggested that I make an appointment for a referral through my PCP. The problem is is that the appointment isn’t until the 1st of May, and I am already failing my algebra class miserably. I just needed to know if it is necessary to go to a doctor, or if there are any testing facilities that I could go to.

    • LDA of America says

      In my state, Vocational Rehabilitation will pay for testing to provide to your college so that accommodations may be awarded. If your Vocational Rehabilitation office does not test, then I suggest checking to see if your college offers diagnostic assessments at a discount.

  2. I am a high school teacher at a college prep school, and I have many students who qualify for extra time on tests. When a qualifying student wants to use extra time on tests, it needs to be scheduled ahead of time since they can’t always just continue testing in my class and miss their next class. However, they often don’t schedule their test in advance (they say that they didn’t schedule it because they didn’t think they’d need extra time).
    I tell these students that they need to schedule their extra time tests at least 1 day in advance since I need to make areangements for them ahead of time. However, the new learnig specialist at my school says that they don’t need to make arrangements ahead of time and that I can never deny them extra time regardless of when they ask for their accommodation. The law says that the school needs to provide reasonable accommodation. Isn’t asking for the students to schedule the test 1 day in advance “reasonable”?

    • LDA of America says

      It seems like that request is reasonable, but this is an issue you need to discuss with your school’s administration as well as the Disability Support Services specialist. Also, it sounds like the students who don’t request extra time because they think they don’t need it could use some instruction in self-advocacy. If those students plan to attend college, they will need to develop their self-advocacy skills in order to work with the Disability Support Services office at a post-secondary school. Of course, knowing how to self-advocate includes having the knowledge they need about their own learning disability, their strengths and challenges, and what works best for them. Maybe you can suggest some way that this instruction can be included in the students’ curriculum? But your first step is definitely to include the school administration in any further discussion of this problem. Hopefully they can resolve this issue without having a court decide what is “reasonable” in this case.

  3. Jenny Fernandes says

    My daughter is at a Communtiy College in Georgia. She is supposed to get Extended Time on all her Tests and Exams. That is Time & a Half.
    They have no Clock in the Testing Room & my daughter is supposed to leave her Phone & Backpack outside. Unfortunately, she did not have a watch with her.

    On her recent test, she got even less time than the kids in her class. She was checked in late & No One went in there at any time to tell her that she had more time; or how much more time. Once she left the room, they asked her if she was done & needed more time.
    The kids were tested from 1130am-1250pm; and my daughter was Clocked in at 1142am-1245/1247pm.

    How does the Extended Time work?

    • LDA of America says

      The school personnel should tell your daughter what the standard testing time is for the test, then arrange for her to be able to continue testing for 1.5 times that standard time. She should ask them what time it is when she begins the test, and what time it will be when her extended time is over. She should be able to wear a wristwatch to help her keep track of the testing time, so that’s probably an important purchase for her to make before her next test. The person in charge of the testing should allow your daughter to use all of the time she has been approved for.

  4. If a student is registered with the disability office and half way through the semester reports to the disability office that they are struggling do to their disability, Can a disability office make an accommodation adjustments WITHOUT consulting the medical professional or asking for more documentation?

    • LDA of America says

      The Disability Services office may require additional documentation from a doctor or diagnostician depending upon the information previously received. The person may only provide accommodations for weaknesses or challenges identified in the documentation. Therefore, other documentation may be required in order to obtain additional accommodations that are not warranted in the originally provided paperwork to the college.

  5. My son is a senior at a large public state university in Ohio. He has a learning disability, and the University has agreed that notetakers will be provided for him in each class. Unfortunately, they only were able to find notetakers for one of his five classes this semester. Do we have any recourse? Shouldn’t the University be required to “find a way” to make this happen? Appreciate any guidance as we work to keep our son on path to graduation.

    • LDA of America says

      One suggestion is for your son to create a peer study group to exchange notes or to ask someone else in the class to take notes for him. For the Spring semester, I suggest meeting with the Disability Services office if accommodations are not being met and ask what strategies need to be done so that the accommodations are being met by the University. Persistence and assertiveness are learned skills that will benefit him throughout college and employment. I suggest working on the self-advocacy skills to follow through with accommodations rather than focus on recourse steps.

  6. Steven Petroski says

    Do community colleges in California offer a student with LDA to take a reduced workload and still be considered full time?

    • LDA of America says

      Some colleges do allow this, but certainly not all. Check with the Disability Services Office in the community college that you are considering attending. The answer to your question may vary between colleges. Their answers may help you decide which college to attend.

  7. Can a college/university refuse testing services for a student requesting testing?

    • LDA of America says

      Colleges all have disability service providers. Personnel in this office will read and review the documentation of the student’s disability to determine the accommodations to be received in college. If a specific accommodation is not awarded, it may not have been included as a recommendation on the documentation. If the student had that accommodation in high school, first get a letter from a high school teacher explaining the need for the accommodation to take to the college disability service provider. Also, the student could role-play with someone else ways to advocate for testing accommodations before going back to the disability office to request these accommodations.

  8. Susan Streator says

    Does a college have to provide tutors for students with learning disabilities and have the accommodation papers to be signed by the instructors.
    Are lab instructors “exempt” from signing the accommodation papers and what if they refuse to and state “they do not need to?”
    The one lab instructor did not sign the paper as she didn’t think it was necessary for lab and I am in the Childhood Development class helping children the 2-3 year old’s learn skills and do one on one things with them.
    Thank you for your help in this matter. I need a tutors help on some classes and am being told “we don’t have any.” Isn’t the disabilities act part of providing the necessary help including some tutor assistance?
    The college in this regards is: Grand Rapids Community College Grand Rapids, Michigan.

    • LDA of America says

      If people or labs are not accommodating your approved accommodations on campus, please go back to office that awarded you these accommodations. This is the link to their website https://www.grcc.edu/disabilitysupportservices ; they are located at the SCC Building on the third floor room 368 and telephone is 616-234-4140. Then self-advocate just like you did with LDA. (You did a nice job.) This campus’ tutoring may be found on this link https://www.grcc.edu/academicsupporttutoringservices, which has tutoring in various buildings dependent upon your subject. I would check with the faculty member or others on campus to see what support services are available to students on your campus. Many campus require faculty to maintain office hours, which I suggest you go to with specific questions. Our institution has an online tutoring services available for distance education classes, but not all campuses have this.

      • Jennifer Weakland says

        I was just told by my collage that they do not have to provide tutoring students with L.D?

        • LDA of America says

          While some colleges have tutoring support services in place for students with learning disabilities, they are not required to do so. By law, colleges are required (1) to assess students’ requests for accommodations using the current disability documentation provided by the students; (2) to provide information regarding policies, procedures, rights and responsibilities to students with disabilities in accessible formats upon request; (3) to recommend appropriate learning and testing accommodations; (4) 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; (5) to ensure confidentiality of all information pertaining to students’ disabilities; and (6) to assist students in communicating with faculty about their disabilities and required accommodations, if needed.

  9. What kind of training opportunities are available for college professors who want to be more prepared to assist students with learning disabilities? Are their continuing education opportunities? Certification options? Larger numbers of students are attending college with documented and undocumented needs. Academic success/accommodation centers are more common than ever. However, these don’t always prepare faculty and staff. Thanks!

    • LDA of America says

      That’s great that you want to increase your knowledge base for helping your students who have disabilities! There are a number of national conferences that offer many sessions about learning disabilities that would give you a lot of information, including LDA’s own annual conference (https://ldaamerica.org/). You might also contact your state’s LDA state affiliate (https://ldaamerica.org/support/state-local-affiliates/) to see what resources they can provide. Also, watch for pertinent webinars offered by websites like https://ldaamerica.org/, https://www.understood.org/en, and https://www.ncld.org/. You might also ask your school’s Disability Support Services office to present a seminar for professors to better explain the process and the needs, and give you and your colleagues the opportunity to discuss the problems and successes you’ve had with working with this student population.


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