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. risa davis says:

    do all schools have to accommodate for learning disabilities, say vocational schools?

    • Yes, as long as you file the appropriate paperwork with the Center for Disabilities Office on campus, and provide all the necessary documentation of your disability.

      • How does one go about getting that paperwork if you lost that information? Am planning on going back to school and they need a copy of my IEP showing I was a learning disable student.

        • The high school from which you graduated should still have that information on file. Call them and ask for a copy.

  2. I have a question, I have a learning disabilities I have a IEP from when I was in high school which was the age of 19. I’m 31 now and I’m not sure if I have to be tested again or will the same things I needed help with will work with that IEP now that I’m in College.

    • When you were in school, you got re-evaluated for your IEP eligibility every 3 years. That testing data has long been expired and you will have to now pay a psychologist to re-test you to see if you are still eligible for any accommodations.

  3. I have a son in his 30’s struggling in college. I’ve convinced him to sign up for the LDA. He’s so stressed, I want to help him get more help, what or where do I direct him next? He’s afraid this will go on his record at school and will limit him in future job opportunities? What’s your thoughts?

  4. Nicole Zednik says:

    When I went back to school in my early 40’s I was told the only accommodation they could make for me was longer testing time. I have dyscalculia. All the degrees required Calculus. I was told the only degree that didn’t require math was accounting. Accounting?!? Accounting IS math! I know that without support that even given days to do the tests I wouldn’t be able to do them.
    The Disabilities Services lady did tell me all the accommodations they could make for most other LD students. Why is Dyscalculia not treated fairly?

    • I’m having the same issue. My math disability is so severe I keep getting placed in remedial math and having to go from step one all the way up. At a certain point I can’t take in new material. That’s how my disability works. I literally cannot pass the Math I need to graduate regardless of tutors and DSPS “help”. Is there some sort of loophole or legal action I can take to legally skip GE Math classes? I don’t think it’s fair I am not allowed to get a degree or graduate bc of my disability. I have always been a good student I’m in the freaking honor society…

      • LDA of America says:

        Your sense of frustration is palpable and understandable. Have you talked with your academic advisor or your contact person at Disability Services? Either or both of these people should be your starting point. Ask if the university will consider a waiver or a substitution and how to go about getting one. Presumably, the school will want to review your documentation. If your documentation is not up to date (usually meaning done within the last 5 years), you should get retested by a licensed psychologist with experience in testing for learning disabilities. Let that person know why you need the new documentation. The documentation will provide data clarifying your math issues and confirming your general overall academic ability. Most institutions have a process already in place that may require your advisor and/or disability person to confirm that the disability cannot be “overcome” and that you can acquire the same skills in some other way. For instance, if the objective for taking a math class is to teach thinking skills, could a logic class provide that? Should you have difficulty getting the waiver or substitution, speak with the school’s 504 representative. You should be able to identify that person by going on the school’s website and searching for the 504 representative. Also, your school’s Student Affairs office should be able to direct you to the correct person. Good luck with this process!

  5. I have a learning disability I have a low GPA and act I was wondering would I still be able to attend any school I want as long as I show my papers? I’m 19 I go to acti in hot spring I’m about to be a cna but I want to become more then that but every body telling me I’m have to pay a lot for college

  6. Yori Cortez says:

    Even though students with learning disabilities have legal Rights but they are not enforced. Colleges put in place requirements for students wit LD that make it harder for them to get through school. The practices are at best differential treatment of students with LD and there’s no way to get help for the disparate treatment. I really would like to know why are California community colleges allowed to require students with LD take at least 12 units to attend the school while students who do not have disabilities can attend even if they only take 3 units or even a 1 unit course? Also why are community colleges allowed to refuse to give LD students a math course substitute unless they agree to get an AA at the school?

  7. A student is responsible to “provide up-to-date” documentation of the disability to the disability service office. What is considered “up-to-date?” Some of the documentation I receive is 5-7 years old.

  8. Tiffany April Griffin says:


    If you give the certain deparment, a week ahead notice before it due. This is for one paper. If they stated, that they are twice busy at end of semester, and need more time.

    Why is that my fault? If they can hire more people for this certain department, why can they not make other accodimations. One example is grammarly.com

    I understand I have disabilites. I understands folks need time to process stuff. Again, does this certain deparment need to hire folks. Students deserve this.

    How can I obtain success in my class, when one certain department is putting up road blocks?

    P.S. The disability office of this school is awesome! The teachers are great. It only this one certain deparment. Mahalo.

  9. Tiffany April Griffin says:


    I can proofread till I am in the blue face, and still make errors. I meant to say for one paper, I did give them notice. It was week before it was due. That was for this one paper.

    I am also not stating correctly. The timeframe this certain department would return my papers, is when this class is done.


  10. Alejandra says:

    I am 29yrs old and have struggled so much in school. Recently I was told I had ADHD and have been taking medication for about 4 months now. Overall I do feel more focused but not enough to take on a Full time semester in college. Besides ADHD I don’t know if I have any other LD because growing up my testing was overall average. However, I never did well in subjects that required math or remembering numbers (history) I have failed miserably and tried taking different classes but have always fallen short in Math. Who can I talk to or how can I get tested? I feel stuck in life and don’t want to let Math be the end of me!

  11. 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.

  12. 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!!!!

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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!!!

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