• Differences between High School and College for Students with Disabilities


    Applicable Laws

     High School


     IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)

    ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Title 11)

    Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973

    Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973

     IDEA is about SUCCESS

     ADA is about ACCESS

    Required Documentation

    IEP (Individualized Education Plan) and/or 504 Plan

    High school IEP and 504 are not sufficient. Documentation guidelines specify information needed for each category of disability.

    School provides evaluation at no cost to student or family.

    Student must get evaluation at own expense.

    Documentation focuses on determining whether student is eligible for services based on specific disability categories in IDEA.

    Documentation must provide information on specific functional limitations, and demonstrate the need for specific accommodations.


    Teachers may modify curriculum and/or alter curriculum pace of assignments.

    Professors are not required to modify instruction or alter assignment deadlines.  Colleges provide academic adjustments and/or auxiliary aids or services to accommodate the functional limitations of qualified students with disabilities, as indicated in the appropriate documentation.

    You are expected to read short assignments that are then discussed and often re-taught in class.

    You are assigned substantial amounts of reading and writing that may not be directly addressed in class.

    You seldom need to read anything more than once; sometimes listening in class is enough.

    You need to review class notes, text, and material regularly.

    Grades & Tests

    IEP or 504 Plan may include modifications to test format and/or grading.

    Grading and test format changes (i.e. multiple choice vs. essay) are generally not available. Accommodations to HOW tests are given (extended time, distraction reduced environment) are available when supported by disability documentation.

    Testing is frequent and covers small amounts of material.

    Testing is usually infrequent and may be cumulative, covering large amounts of material.

    Teachers often take time to remind you of assignments and due dates.

    Professors expect you to read, save, and consult the course syllabus (outline); the syllabus spells out exactly what is expected of you, when it is due, and how you will be graded.