College Disability Laws

Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS)

Transition out of high school to college life can be difficult for any student. It is more so for students with disabilities. The rights previously in place in the K-12 special education system under IDEA ends abruptly with graduation or at the age of 21.

The new system of rights and protections under Section 504 and 508 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and Title 5 of the California Education Code differ radically from the previous system. These laws prohibit discrimination solely on the basis of disability and require a college to provide reasonable accommodationsso that a student with a disability has equal opportunity to take part in college programs and services. In addition, this new system requires thatthe individual with the disability take charge of their requests for support and services.

  • Post-secondary education is not guaranteed nor a right. Students must meet academic criteria and qualifications for initial and continued enrollment.
  • Accommodations or adjustments from high school may not transfer to college.
  • Students need to know what it means to be a college student (i.e., students need study skills and knowledge of how to plan study time.)
  • Students need to monitor their own progress. They need to know when and how to ask for help. Continued attendance in college depends upon GPA (grade point average) and/or successful completion of courses. If students are not making progress, they will be placed on probation and may eventually be disqualified if they do not improve.
  • Students have the responsibility for planning, requesting accommodations, and for their own success in college.
  • Course modifications at the post-secondary level are not allowed.
  • There are no provisions for or entitlements to differential grading standards.
  • The college/university does not offer personal services such as attendant care. These services are the student’s responsibility.
  • Transportation to and from the college is the student’s responsibility.
  • Students are responsible for college tuition and fees, purchase of textbooks, and payment of parking fees. Apply for financial aid and fee waivers, if eligible.
  • Confidentiality: Colleges and agencies cannot disclose student information to parents or others without the student’s permission.
  • Students must disclose their disability if an accommodation is requested. Contact the Disabled Student Programs and Services (DSPS) to arrange an appointment with a counselor.
  • Students need to have or know how to get documentation of their disabilities. Medical disabilities need to be verified by a physician. Learning disabilities need to be verified by current testing on an adult measure that documents both a significant processing disorder and a significant aptitude-achievement discrepancy.
  • Students are responsible for talking with college instructors about accommodations authorized by DSPS. DSPS can facilitate this communication if needed.
  • All students, regardless of disability, need to follow the GWC’s Student Code of Conduct for behavior and maintain appropriate behavior in classes and on campus.
  • Expect social changes in college. College can be isolating for some students since they may not have daily contact with teachers or friends. Students need to know how to access college resources and services (i.e., counseling, peer mentoring, clubs, Associated Student Organizations’ activities. etc.).Remember, disability laws in high school do not apply to college.

    Source: Region X Transition Committee Meeting Minutes, 10/9/98