For Parents of Disabled Students


The provision of accommodations for disabled college students is a subject about which there tends to be much confusion. Very often parents and students form their expectations about their rights and responsibilities in college based on their high school experiences. Although this is understandable, it is unfortunate, because parents and students tend to think they have exactly the same rights and responsibilities in college that they had in high school. This is not the case. Although Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 carry over from high school, IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), which applies in high school, does not carry over to post-secondary institutions such as Glen Oaks.

This difference in law results in a difference in the way services are provided in college. Stated simply, it is much more important for disabled students to advocate for themselves in college than it is in high school. This is true for two reasons:

– The service model in college is very different than in high school. In college, there are no IEPs or 504 plans. There is no team coordinating and providing services for the disabled student. There is no “special education.” There is no “resource room.” Instead, the student is responsible to seek out the Support Services for Students with Disabilities office, to present appropriate documentation to receive accommodations, and to advocate for him or herself. Although eligible students may receive accommodations, they are required to meet the same academic requirements as everyone else.

– A college student is legally an adult and, as such, is the only one who can initiate services. Indeed, the Support Services for Students with Disabilities office may not disclose any information to parents without the explicit, written permission of the student.

Although these differences can be a bit scary at first, they are really a wonderful “transitional” opportunity. Self-advocating, and becoming more independent, are not only important factors in being successful in college, but they become increasingly important after college, when the student becomes involved in the workforce. Your child will have to be able to be able to talk about their disability and advocate for him or herself if they wish to receive accommodations on the job. Therefore, now is the ideal time for them to begin to develop these important skills.

You have helped your child get into college. You should be proud! But now is the time to assume a supportive role, and let you child grow in their ability to control and manage their own life. Although this is hard to do in the short run, it is the best thing you can do for them in the long run.