Transition from High School to College

The following table was assembled for the purpose of providing technical information to incoming students, parents, caregivers, educators, and family members on which applicable disability laws and regulations apply to postsecondary institutions.

High School

Applicable Laws:

  • Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act (IDEA)
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

These laws are sometimes referred to as “success laws” because they require high schools to provide all possible accommodations to help ensure  a student’s success. Supports may include modifications to curriculum, modifications to homework, the assignment of personal classroom aides, and shorter tests.

Required Documentation:

  • Individual Education Plan (IEP)
  • 504 Plan
  • School provides evaluation at no cost to the student.
  • School conducts evaluations at prescribed intervals.

Student Role:

  • Student is identified and supported by parents and teachers.
  • Primary responsibility for accommodations belongs to the school.

Parental Role:

  • Parents have access to student records and participate in the accommodation process.
  • Parents advocate for students.


  • Teachers may modify curriculum and/or alter pace of assignments.
  • Teachers use a multi-sensory approach.
  • Weekly quizzes, midterms, finals, and frequent graded assignments provide students with an on-going indication of their academic progress. Teachers arrange regular parent/teacher/student conferences to report on and discuss student’s progress.
  • Attendance is taken and reported but a disability may potentially excuse some absences.


Applicable Laws:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • Applicable Federal, State, and local non-discrimination laws.

Laws that apply to colleges and universities, sometimes referred to as “access laws,” require institutions to make accommodations ensuring that students with disabilities have full access to programs and activities.  A student with a disability, however, must be “otherwise qualified” to undertake a given course or program, meeting the same academic and technical requirements that apply to students without disabilities. For example, a school may offer testing accommodations by way of extended time or in an alternate format such as large print or Braille, but the content of a test cannot be modified.

Required Documentation:

  • Varies according to the disability.
  • I.E.P. and 504 plans alone may not be sufficient.
  • Documentation must include a written report describing the impairment, a diagnosis, and all test results and/or information used to arrive at the diagnosis. If the documentation is incomplete or not current, the student is responsible for obtaining and submitting additional documentation.
  • Student must get an evaluation at own expense.

Student Role:

  • Student must self-identify to AAC/SDS.
  • Students wishing to request accommodations follows AAC/SDS policies and procedures.

Parental Role:

  • It is the student’s responsibility, not the parent’s responsibility, to request and arrange his/her own accommodations.
  • Students advocate for themselves, with support of the AAC/SDS as needed.


  • Professors are not required to modify the fundamental nature/essential content of a program.
  • Professors tend to rely on lecture and may or may not use a multi-sensory approach.
  • Grades are generally based on fewer tests and assignments, and students must independently monitor their learning in the course on a frequent and regular basis. Students are responsible for requesting and arranging individual conferences with their instructors.

Last Updated: 10/04/2019 14:45