Disability Services in a Postsecondary Situation
(Transition of Students with Disabilities to Postsecondary Education: A Guide for High School Educators, OCR 2011)

The following information is provided to assist the reader in understanding the transition from secondary education to postsecondary education.

  1. Postsecondary students are responsible for self-identifying and requesting accommodations and services as needed.
    Postsecondary institutions will not ask whether a student has a disability (e.g., on registration forms). Students must self-identify and discuss their special needs with appropriate staff to receive services.

  2. Postsecondary students are now accommodated as “adults.”
    This means that the students must have been assessed as an adult, using adult standards. Generally, postsecondary education institutions require assessment to be completed within the past three years by a licensed professional. Students requiring accommodations for the SAT or ACT should review established eligibility criteria with the respective organizations. Students should check with the postsecondary institution they are planning to attend to ensure that their documentation is complete.

  3. Many of the laws (such as ADA and 504) covering disability services in high school are the same in postsecondary (although the regulations require more self-advocacy and action by the post-secondary student). A primary difference is the handling of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA, also known as the Buckley Amendment).
    Students have the right to know about the purposes, content, and location of information kept as part of their education records. Students also have a right to expect that information in their educational records will be kept confidential or disclosed only with their permission or under provisions of the law. They also have the right to gain access to and, in some cases, challenge the content of their educational records. The postsecondary institution will require that written permission and release forms be signed by the student in order to share educational records with other individuals or entities, even the parent. The exception being for students who are still claimed as dependents on the parents’ income tax filing.

  4. Students should make contact with the disability services providers at the postsecondary institution as soon as possible.
    Students should contact postsecondary institutions prior to enrollment to determine what services are available and to ensure that the appropriate documentation is submitted. If students are applying to more than one institution, they should contact all offices involved as there may be different documentation requirements.

  5. Accommodations in college may be different than the accommodations received in K–12. For instance, postsecondary institutions are not required to provide personal accommodations.
    If there are questions, students should always approach the disability service provider office for further information.

  6. Procedures are set in place for students to appeal if they have been discriminated against at a postsecondary institution.
    Students should check their college catalog and/or student handbook from the postsecondary institution for details regarding the availability of an appeal process.  

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