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Transition Handbook




Myths and Misconceptions Regarding
Higher Education and Accommodations


I can arrange with the college to wake me up in the mornings, make sure I get to class/exams, help me get organized, and remind me of deadlines.

Items of a personal nature are the responsibility of the student. It is also reasonable for the institution to expect that students can get to class and be responsible as part of being "otherwise qualified".

Parents or the advisor/counselor will enroll me in college.

Students are responsible for selecting courses and enrolling each semester. Working with academic advisors and factoring-in disability-related needs is important in course selection.

Colleges provide LD and AD/HD testing.

Students are required to provide documentation of their disability prior to receiving accommodations. Additionally, colleges have the right to establish their documentation criteria. Insufficient documentation is the responsibility of the student. Some colleges may have on-campus resources that do evaluations less expensively.

Some universities do not provide accommodations.

ALL postsecondary institutions are required to provide appropriate academic accommodations. The extent of services/accommodations may vary, as well as the name of the office/person that is responsible.

Because of my disability, admission and/or graduation requirements can be altered/flexible.

Established requirements--admission, graduation, course(s), gpa, code of conduct, etc--are the same for all students. Accommodations may be appropriate dependant upon the "essential elements" of the program. However, the same standard exists, and students with disabilities are equally accountable.

I qualified for Social Security; therefore, I will get disability services in college.

Services and accommodations are based on two (2) prongs: (1) documentation of a disability by an appropriate professional, AND (2) a substantial limitation (impacting learning, reading, etc.). Having a disability protects an individual from discrimination, but does not establish a need for accommodations.

Colleges will provide me transportation from my home/apartment to campus.

Equal access to transportation is required. If no transportation exists, there is no responsibility to create a system for students with disabilities. So, be sure to identify what college and/or public transportation exists. Where you live may also be important in terms of proximity to campus or a bus route.

The college will provide the same services and modifications as the high school IEP.

The IEP is specific to K-12. Accommodations in higher education are determined by disability documentation and substantial limitation due to the disability. Also, some services provided in K-12 may be inappropriate in higher education (e.g., shorter assignments/exams). Determining the availability of accommodations in college is NOT solely based on whether an IEP existed (or not) in high school.

Colleges provide tuition and fee waivers for students with disabilities, and help with the cost of books.

No. Financial aid and scholarships may be available through the Financial Aid office. Other resources include the campus disability services office, Vocational Rehabilitation Services (a.k.a. Voc Rehab, VR, DRS) 405-951-3400 (Oklahoma), and HEATH Resource Center http://www.heath.gwu.edu

Accommodations are supposed to guarantee that I will pass my classes.

Accommodations are meant to provide equal access and equal opportunity. Access is no guarantee of success.

Once I enroll all of my accommodations will be taken care of.

Students are required to self-identify. Upon self-identification, review of documentation, and determination of appropriate accommodations, students must request services in order to receive them. Without notification or request, no accommodations are provided. It is common to require students to request services each semester since courses, expectations, needs, and the impact of the disability may change.

Whatever accommodations I say that I need will be provided.

Accommodations are based on disability documentation and substantial limitation of the disability. "Essential elements" need not be changed. Consideration is given to individual preferences, but it is the institution's decision, as long as it can be shown to be "equally effective".

Any absences will automatically be excused if I am sick or if it is disability related.

Absences may not negatively affect a student's grade on the basis of an attendance policy in classes where attendance is not "essential" and the absence is directly related to the disability. Any other absences or courses in which attendance is deemed "essential" (e.g., discussion class, lab, foreign language class) are subject to the attendance policy of the instructor or department. In either case, the student is still responsible for the knowledge of the material and work in the class.

I can redo and retake assignments and tests so the results can be adjusted.

Accommodations are made in order to meet the expectations and requirements of the course. With appropriate accommodations, it is expected that students with disabilities will meet the deadlines, complete the homework/assignments, and take exams at the scheduled time. Poor performance, with accommodations, is no grounds for a retake/redo or extra credit.

Colleges are required to provide one-on-one tutoring.

Tutoring is considered something of a "personal nature" and, therefore, outside the scope of accommodations. Equal access to tutoring provided to all students is required. Also, some institutions provide tutoring specifically for students with disabilities as an additional service.

Whenever accommodations are requested, all the previous exams/assignments can be changed, if necessary.

The obligation to provide accommodations begins at the point a request is made. Reasonable notice is required from the student to enact accommodations (e.g. books on tape), although a good faith effort is expected by the institution to provide them in a timely manner. Accommodations are NOT retroactive.

My professors will give me hints/prompts when taking tests.

Exams are taken with the same expectations of other students in the class. "Prompting" by instructors or proctors is an inappropriate accommodation.

Instructors must give me their notes, outlines, study guides and a practice exam.

Equal access to the material presented is the goal of accommodations. Lecture material can be gained via taping lectures, use of volunteer/paid notetakers, notes posted on the internet, or instructor notes. There is no requirement to create something (e.g. notes, study tools). Additional study strategies, such as identifying key points, reading comprehension, test-taking may be necessary. If instructors provide no such "tools" as a part of their course (e.g. practice exams), identify the office on campus that does.

As a parent, I can arrange to have weekly progress reports like had been done all through grade school and high school.

FERPA (Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act), a.k.a. "Buckley", requires strict confidentiality of student information. The institution interacts with the student as an adult, and would require a "release of information" to share records and/or information with anyone else. . .including parents. This change in focus is important in that the STUDENT is expected to be responsible and accountable for his/her business.

As long as I attend class and do the homework I will pass the class.

Unlike high school, homework and attendance have little, if any, impact on the final grade. This difference is an important distinction so students can have the appropriate mindset. Grades are based on the criteria established by the instructor. Extra credit as an accommodation is unavailable/inappropriate.

Since I provided the other college with documentation about my disability, all I need to do is bring the accommodation list to the college to which I am transferring.

Each college is permitted to establish their documentation guidelines/requirements. Although greater consistency is occurring nationwide, it is important to check with the institution directly as to what documentation is necessary. Also, accommodations provided at one institution do not obligate another institution to the same.

The college will need to create an independent study program or allow me to take classes at home.

Some courses are offered via Independent Study, Correspondence, on-line, as Distance Education, etc. Check with the Registrar or other appropriate office for these courses. Creating another version of a course offered on-campus is a change in the "essential elements" of that course, and is not required.

I can have the ASL interpreter I choose.

Qualified interpreters are provided as an accommodation to facilitate communication. The interpreter should adhere to the Code of Ethics, have the skill level necessary to communicate effectively, and be able to utilize the student's sign system. Other factors should have no bearing on the interpreter assigned. In postsecondary, interpreters are NOT tutors, para-professionals, or helpers.

"Coaching" is a service that colleges provide students who have ADD.

Study skills (notetaking, test-taking, time management, organization, etc.) are typically offered by colleges. It is a service/program offered to students in general. Some Disability Support Service offices may also provide one-on-one assistance. It is important to note that the purpose is skill building. The student is responsible for his/her own studying and preparation. Define "coaching" before discussing what issues exist and what available accommodations may best address them.

Because I have poor memory, I can have open book tests or weekly exams.

Accommodations are provided in order to have equal access and equal opportunity to the programs and services offered. With respect to exams, accommodations address access to the exam that exists. Changing the exam format and/or the number of exams are generally considered to be a change in the "essential elements" of the course.