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Parent and Family Guide

The AccessAbility Center/Student Disability Services

Parent and Family Guide

The Transition

As the parent of a child with a disability you have been an advocate for your child on numerous occasions. You have become educated and learned problem-solving skills to meet the needs of your child. The journey has been filled with accomplishments, setbacks, and hurdles.

College is the time when your adult child builds the skills needed for lifelong self-advocacy. It is important that your adult child start doing for themselves what you have been doing for them all along. In most cases, your child is not fully aware of all that has been done for him/her.

Make sure your child knows what you have learned about his/her disability. Share what you did in past situations to solve problems. Don't intervene in situations where self-advocacy is needed. If your child reaches a hurdle, coach them. If your child suffers a setback, encourage them. If your child makes an accomplishment, celebrate with them. Over time your child will learn the skills they need to be their own best advocate.

Self-Advocacy is crucial for individuals with disabilities at the post-secondary level and well into adulthood. The student with disabilities is responsible for seeking out any resources needed, starting with initiating services and talking with professors about accommodations.

  • Comparison of Disability Services from High School to College (*Table adapted from BYU Idaho)
High School College

Under IDEA, children with disabilities are absolutely entitled to a "Free and Appropriate Public Education".

Equal Access is the goal - no one is entitled to anything but rather students must advocate for themselves in order to enjoy these rights.
Section 504 in the public schools includes "Free and Appropriate Public Education" language and accommodations may include a shortening of assignments, use of notes on test, etc., when other students cannot have the same accommodation. Section 504 is the first civil rights legislation that applies to colleges. It upholds the institution's right to maintain academic standards. No accommodations may be permitted to reduce that standard for any students. There is no "free" education, and shortening of assignments, use of notes, etc. are not considered "reasonable" accommodations in college.


Read more about how students with disabilities can prepare for college on the  US Department of Education website.