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Disability Services Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

As a student with a disability leaving high school and entering postsecondary education, will I see differences in my rights and how they are addressed?

Yes. Section 504 and Title II protect elementary, secondary, and postsecondary students from discrimination. Nevertheless, several of the requirements that apply through high school are different from the requirements that apply beyond high school. For instance, Section 504 requires a school district to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to each child with a disability in the district's jurisdiction. Whatever the disability, a school district must identify an individual's education needs and provide any regular or special education and related aids and services necessary to meet those needs and meet the needs of students without disabilities.

Unlike your high school, your postsecondary school is not required to provide FAPE. Rather, your postsecondary school is required to provide appropriate academic accommodation as necessary to ensure that it does not discriminate on the basis of disability. In addition, if your postsecondary school provides housing to nondisabled students, it must provide comparable, convenient, and accessible housing to students with disabilities at the same cost. Other significant differences you need to know, even before you arrive at your postsecondary school, are addressed in the remaining questions.

Contact

[email protected]

Smyrna Campus: 615-220-7857

Moore County, McMinnville and Fayetteville Campuses: 931-393-1765

May a postsecondary school deny my admission because I have a disability?

No. If you meet the essential requirements for admission, a postsecondary school may not deny your admission simply because you have a disability.

Do I have to inform a postsecondary school that I have a disability?

No. However, if you want the school to provide academic accommodation, you must identify yourself as having a disability. Likewise, you should let the school know about your disability if you want to ensure that you are assigned to accessible facilities. In any event, your disclosure of a disability is always voluntary.

What academic accommodations must a postsecondary school provide?

The appropriate academic accommodation must be determined based on your disability and individual needs. Academic accommodations may include auxiliary aids and modifications to academic requirements to ensure equal educational opportunity. Examples of such accommodations are providing note-takers, recording devices, sign language interpreters, extended time for testing, equipping school computers with screen-reading, voice recognition, or other adaptive software or hardware.

Your postsecondary school is not required to lower or effect substantial modifications to essential requirements in providing an academic accommodation. For example, although your school may be required to provide extended testing time, it is not required to change the test's substantive content. In addition, your postsecondary school does not have to make modifications that would fundamentally alter the nature of a service, program, or activity or would result in undue financial or administrative burdens. Finally, your postsecondary school does not have to provide personal attendants, individually prescribed devices, readers for personal use or study, or other devices or services of a personal nature, such as tutoring and typing.

If I want an accommodation, what must I do?

You must inform the school that you have a disability and need an academic accommodation. Unlike your school district, your postsecondary school is not required to identify you as having a disability or assess your needs. Your postsecondary school may require you to follow reasonable procedures to request an academic accommodation. You are responsible for knowing and following these procedures. Postsecondary schools usually include, in their publications providing general information, information on the procedures and contacts for requesting an academic accommodation. Such publications include recruitment materials, catalogs, and student handbooks and are often available on school websites. Many schools also have staff whose purpose is to assist students with disabilities. If you cannot locate the procedures, ask a school official, such as an admissions officer or counselor.

When should I request an academic accommodation?

Although you may request an academic accommodation from your postsecondary school at any time, you should request it as early as possible. Some academic accommodations may take more time to provide than others. You should follow your school's procedures to ensure that your school has enough time to review your request and provide an appropriate academic accommodation.

Do I have to prove that I have a disability to obtain an academic accommodation?

Generally, yes. Your school probably will require you to provide documentation that shows you have a current disability and need an academic accommodation.

What documentation should I provide?

Schools may set reasonable standards for documentation. Some schools require more documentation than others. They may require you to provide documentation prepared by an appropriate professional, such as a medical doctor, psychologist, or another qualified diagnostician. The required documentation may include one or more of the following: a diagnosis of your current disability; the date of the diagnosis; how the diagnosis was reached; the credentials of the professional; how your disability affects a major life activity; and how the disability affects your academic performance. The documentation should provide enough information for you and your school to decide on an appropriate academic accommodation.

Although an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 plan, if you have one, may help identify services that have been effective for you, it generally is not sufficient documentation. This is because postsecondary education presents different demands than high school education, and what you need to meet these new demands may be different. Also, in some cases, the nature of a disability may change. If the documentation that you have does not meet the postsecondary school's requirements, a school official must tell you in a timely manner what additional documentation you need to provide. You may need a new evaluation to provide the required documentation.

Who has to pay for a new evaluation?

Neither your high school nor your postsecondary school is required to conduct or pay for a new evaluation to document your disability and need for an academic accommodation. This may mean that you have to pay or find funding to pay an appropriate professional to do it. If you are eligible for services through your state vocational rehabilitation agency, you may qualify for an evaluation at no cost to you. You may locate your state vocational rehabilitation agency through this Department of Education web page.

Once the school has received the necessary documentation from me, what should I expect?

The school will review your request in light of the relevant program's essential requirements to help determine an appropriate academic accommodation. It is important to remember that the school is not required to lower or waive essential requirements. If you have requested a specific academic accommodation, the school may offer that academic accommodation or an alternative one if the alternative also would be effective. The school may also conduct its own evaluation of your disability and needs at its own expense.

You should also expect your school to work with you to identify an appropriate academic accommodation in an interactive process. Unlike the experience you may have had in high school, however, do not expect your postsecondary school to invite your parents to participate in the process or to develop an IEP for you.

What if the accommodations we identified are not working?

Let the school know as soon as you become aware that the results are not what you expected. It may be too late to correct the problem if you wait until the course or activity is completed. You and your school should work together to resolve the problem.

Can I discontinue disability services at any time during my postsecondary schooling?

If you are at least 18 years old and feel like you no longer need any accommodations, yes, you can discontinue services by contacting your disability coordinator and discussing the option.  

If I have an approved accommodation to take my test in the testing room, how would I schedule it?

All testing accommodations must be discussed with the instructor. The student must contact their disability coordinator to make appropriate arrangements if they plan to take their test in the Testing Center.

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