Post Secondary Education

Opportunities for individuals with disabilities to attend post-secondary educational programs, such as college, have been increasing over the years. Universities, state colleges, community colleges and training programs offer a varied and wide array of post secondary education options to support individuals with disabilities who enroll and attend their programs. Services to students vary from institution to institution and may be provided in libraries and media centers, as well as tutoring and writing centers. Students are encouraged to register for the services and utilize the services in order to support their success in the program of their choice. The Office of Civil Rights is responsible for the enforcement of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended (generally referred to as simply Section 504), and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, as amended. Both Section 504 and ADA prohibit discrimination on the basis of a disability. Public school districts, colleges and universities are subject to these laws. Any private post-secondary institution that does not receive federal funds is not subject to Section 504 or Title II of the ADA. However, private institutions are subject to Title III of the ADA. Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of a disability by private entities that are not private clubs or religious entities and is enforced by the United States Department of Justice.

Students with Disabilities Entering a Post-Secondary Program
  • Are entitled to accommodations on standardized college entrance exams (i.e. braille, large print, testing over several sessions, preferential seating, extended time, etc.).
  • Are not required to self disclose if they have a disability.
  • Are required to present documentation of a disability if they are seeking services, accommodations:
  1. A recent Individual Education Plan or a Section 504 Plan from high school may not be sufficient evidence of a disability.
  2. A student receiving services under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), upon leaving high school, must be provided with a summary of his or her academic achievements and functional performance that includes recommendations on how to assist in meeting the student’s postsecondary goals. 34CFR § 300.305(e)(3) (2010)
  3. The summary of academic achievement and functional performance may provide helpful information about disability and the need for an academic adjustment.
Following Admission to a Post-Secondary Program
  • Academic adjustments are defined in section 504 regulations at 34 C.F.R. § 104.44(a) as:  “Such modifications to [the] academic requirements as are necessary to ensure that such requirements do not discriminate or have the effect of discriminating, on the basis of [disability] against a qualified … applicant or student [with a disability]. Academic requirements that the recipient can demonstrate are essential to the instruction being pursued by such student or to any directly related licensing requirement will not be regarded as discriminatory within the meaning of this section. Modifications may include changes in the length of time permitted for the completion of degree requirements, substitution of specific courses required for the completion of degree requirements, and adaptation of the manner in which specific courses are conducted.”


  • Institutions are not required to provide an academic adjustment that would alter or waive essential academic requirements. 34 C.F.R. § 104.44(a)  


  • Institutions also do not have to provide an academic adjustment that would fundamentally alter the nature of a service, program or activity or result in undue financial or administrative burdens considering the institution’s resources as a whole. 28 C.F.R. § 35.164.


  • Once the needed auxiliary aids and services have been identified, institutions may not require students with disabilities to pay part or all of the costs of such aids and services, nor may institutions charge students with disabilities more for participating in programs or activities than they charge students who do not have disabilities.


Keys to Success in a Post-secondary Program
  • Understand your disability.
  • Research the college, university or program that you would like to apply to prior to application.
  • Contact the disability support services office/department prior to application and:
  • Review any disability support service guidelines provided by the college/university.
  • Provide the disability specialist with all required:
  • Documentation of a disability;
  • Summary of academic achievement and functional performance.
  • Enroll in the appropriate program.
  • Accept responsibility for your own success in the program.
  • Learn and practice time management skills.
  • Acquire needed computer skills.
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