Know Your Rights

It's important to know your rights and responsibilities and also the responsibilities of the institution you plan to attend. Federal laws, like Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, are in place to ensure equal access to programs and activities for students with disabilities. Below are just some of the rights and responsibilities you should consider when applying to and attending college. (This is not a complete list.)

Before Admission

  • Testing accommodations - Students can obtain changes to the standardized testing conditions that will allow them to participate as long as they provide documentation from a qualified professional stating the type of disability and the changes needed to the testing environment. Some examples of these changes are listed below (this is not a complete list):
    • Large print
    • Tape recorded responses
    • Extended testing time
    • Private room
    • Sign language interpreter
  • Disability disclosure - Institutions are not allowed to ask if a student has a disability but they are allowed to ask if the student can meet the academic and technical standards for the institution's program. This inquiry must not be intended to reveal one's disability status. If a student decides to reveal their disability status, it would be voluntary.
  • Admission decision - Institutions are not allowed to ask a student if they have a disability before an admission decision has been made. They are also not allowed to deny admission to qualified students because they have a disability.

After Admission

  • Disability disclosure - Institutions are not required to identify students with disabilities. A student is not required to disclose their disability to the institution. If a student does, it will be a voluntary disclosure.
  • Disability documentation - It is the student's responsibility to provide the proper documentation to their institution. Institutions are not required to perform or pay for evaluation services to document the student's disability. Most institutions will not accept the student's high school IEP or 504 plan as sufficient documentation so check with the student disability services office to get the requirements for acceptable documentation. If your documentation is deemed insufficient, then someone from the institution will contact you to let you know of the additional documentation that is still needed.
  • Requesting academic adjustments - In order to request academic adjustments and services, a student will need to identify themselves as having a disability. The student will work with the student disability services office to determine the best academic adjustments to meet the student's needs. Institutions are not required to make academic adjustments that would change or remove the essential requirements of the program. Some examples of academic adjustments (this is not a complete list):
    • Reduced course load
    • Extended time on tests
    • Note-takers
    • Screen readers
    • Voice recognition
    • Recording devices
    • Adaptive software
  • Costs - The institution is responsible for providing and paying for your academic aids or services. They are not required to pay if the aid or service would cause an undue financial or administrative burden on the institution. The institution is also not allowed to charge you more for a course/class than they charge students without disabilities. 

Additional Resources

For more information on your rights and responsibilities, visit the resources listed above.