Navigating higher education can be challenging for college-bound students with disabilities. Depending on their condition, they may encounter many kinds of challenges. However, as IEP in college programs become more accessible and adaptive to students with disabilities, they are getting closer to enjoying the same college experience as everyone else.
This blog will cover whether the Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan can still be used in higher education and what other alternatives are out there.
Understanding IEPs and 504 Plans for College Students
Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and 504 plans are legal documents that outline the support and accommodations a student with a disability needs to succeed in an educational environment. These tools are often associated with K–12 education through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
To give an overview, the IEP in college is for students who require special education services due to a disability. A team of teachers, psychologists, and parents creates IEPs. This collective will then make adjustments to the school’s facilities and teaching to address their disability. The program includes specific goals for the student and outlines how progress will be measured.
On the other hand, the 504 plan is for students with disabilities who do not qualify for special education services but still require certain accommodations in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. This can include modifications to the learning environment, extra time on tests, or the use of assistive technology.
What’s the difference between IEP in College and 504 Plans?
An Individualized Education Plan makes changes to the entire educational flow of the students. To put it into perspective, a high school student can have different classes from his or her classmates that fit their strengths and weaknesses.
A 504 plan provides accommodations that the school can readily provide. There are typically accommodations that do not directly make changes to the curriculum. A student will have exactly similar classes but have accommodations to provide equal access to education.
Rights of Students Under the American Disabilities Act
In case you’re wondering if IEP in college or 504 plans transfer to college, the answer is no. However, the rights and protections they are entitled to through the 504 plan during their high school education remain.
College students with disabilities continue to be protected under federal law through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which requires colleges to provide reasonable accommodations for eligible students.
Universities and colleges are required to provide appropriate academic adjustments or modifications to ensure that students have equal access to the education provided. It may also seem that different campuses do not have the same accommodations available.
Though it remains the student’s responsibility to disclose their disability and request accommodations at their college or university.
The Transition from High School to College
The transition from high school to college can be particularly challenging for students with disabilities. In high school, teachers and parents often play a significant role in advocating for accommodations. In college, the responsibility shifts to the student. It’s important for students to understand their rights, know what accommodations they need, and advocate for themselves.
One of the first steps in this transition is for students to connect with the disability services office at their college or university.
How do I request accommodations in College?
To request accommodations in college, students must first disclose their disability to the college’s disability services office, which typically requires documentation of the disability. The specific documentation requirements can vary by college, so it’s important for students to check with their particular institution.
Once the disability is documented, the student and the disability services office will work together to develop an appropriate accommodation plan. This process can involve a lot of communication and negotiation, so it’s crucial for students to be proactive and assertive.
Necessary documents needed for requests
The documentation needed to request accommodations can vary depending on the nature of the disability and the specific college’s requirements. However, typical documentation includes a diagnosis from a qualified professional, evidence of the disability’s impact on academic performance, and evidence of past accommodations.
For example, a student with a learning disability might provide a psychoeducational evaluation that includes testing results and a diagnosis. A student with a physical disability might provide a letter from a doctor outlining the nature of the disability and its impact on the student’s academic functioning.
It’s also helpful for students to provide their IEP or 504 plan from high school, as this can give the college a clear picture of the accommodations that have been successful in the past.
How do I coordinate with disability services personnel?
Coordinating with disability services personnel is a key part of acquiring the necessary accommodations. They can guide students through the process of requesting accommodations, provide resources and support, and serve as advocates.
To coordinate effectively with disability services personnel, students should be proactive in reaching out and maintaining communication. They should also be prepared to discuss their disability openly and honestly and to advocate for the accommodations they need.
What accommodations do you request?
There are limitations to what a college can accommodate. Financial and human resources are taken into consideration to determine whether they can provide reasonable accommodations.
The accommodations a student requests will depend on the nature of their disability and how it impacts their academic functioning.
For students with mental and learning disabilities, accommodations might include extra time for assignments, the use of assistive technology, and access to tutoring or academic coaching services.
For students with physical and sensory disabilities, accommodations might include accessible classrooms and housing, the use of assistive technology, and the provision of materials in alternative formats, such as braille or large print.
Disability-Friendly Colleges and Their Programs
Many colleges and universities are committed to supporting students with disabilities and offer a variety of programs and resources.
For example, some colleges offer transition programs to help students with disabilities adjust to college life. These programs might include orientation sessions, academic coaching, and mentoring from older students with disabilities.
It’s important for students to research and consider these factors when choosing a college or university. The right support can make a significant difference in their academic success and overall college experience.
Examples of Colleges with Notable Disability Programs
Several colleges stand out for their exceptional support for students with disabilities. For example, the University of Arizona offers a comprehensive program that includes academic support, career development, and a specialized living-learning community. Similarly, the University of Connecticut’s Center for Students with Disabilities provides individualized services and promotes campus-wide inclusivity.
Stanford University’s Office of Accessible Education offers an array of services, from academic accommodations to assistive technology. The University of California, Berkeley, also has a strong program, providing a range of accommodations and promoting disability culture and community.
These colleges serve as examples of institutions committed to inclusivity and accessibility, but there are many others. Prospective students should research and consider the disability services offered by each college they are considering.
Request Captioning Technology for your College Education
Students can create a successful educational path that caters to their unique needs by understanding their rights, advocating for accommodations, and choosing a supportive college.
Remember, it’s important to reach out to your college’s disability services office as soon as possible to start the process of requesting accommodations. Don’t hesitate to advocate for what you need to succeed. College is a time of growth and learning, and every student deserves the opportunity to make the most of it.
Deaf and hard-of-hearing students can request accommodations like captioning technology. The best captioning technology allows you to distinguish multiple speakers and ensure equal access for disabled and non-disabled students. Well, Ava can be the perfect fit as it is available on all platforms and devices, both online and offline.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can an IEP be used in college?
An IEP does not automatically transfer to college, but the accommodations outlined in an IEP can guide the development of a college accommodation plan.
How do IEPs transfer to college?
While IEPs do not directly transfer, they can serve as valuable documentation when requesting accommodations in college.
Can you get a 504 plan in college?
Colleges do not use 504 plans, but they are required to provide reasonable accommodations for eligible students, similar to the accommodations provided by a 504 plan in high school.
What are the benefits of a 504 plan in college?
While colleges don’t use 504 plans, they use similar accommodations to help students with disabilities succeed academically.
Do all colleges offer free, appropriate public education for students with disabilities?
Many colleges offer disability services, but the range and quality of these services can vary. It’s important to research each college’s offerings.
What is post-secondary education for students with disabilities?
Post-secondary education for students with disabilities includes any education or training following high school that accommodates a student’s disability.
What are some colleges known for their disability programs?
Some colleges with notable disability programs include the University of Arizona, the University of Connecticut, Stanford University, and the University of California, Berkeley.
How can a student with disabilities transition smoothly to college?
Early contact with the college’s disability services office, knowledge of one’s rights, and self-advocacy can all contribute to a smooth transition.
Does 504 apply to college?
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act applies to colleges in the sense that it requires colleges to provide reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities.
What are the differences between an IEP and a 504 plan?
An IEP is a plan for students who require special education services, while a 504 plan is for students who don’t qualify for special education but still require certain accommodations.