As a parent, you have prepared for this moment for the past 18 years and now your child is going to college.  As a parent of a child with a disability, you have also feared this moment for the past 18 years.  You worry if they will be ok; they will.  You worry if they will have support; they will.  You worry that they may struggle; at times, they will.  But know that you have prepared your child for this journey and they need to reach for goals in order to become who they are meant to be in this world and there is support to help them along the way.

Also know that along this journey, your child will have the opportunity to seek needed support from on-campus resources, including Accessibility Services.  Please explore the links and information below to learn more about how to coach your student in order to navigate the transition from high school to college successfully.  

Reasons for Accommodations:

  • Temporary – this may include broken bones or acute impairments due to surgery or injuries
  • Invisible disabilities – may include autism, or mental health diagnoses   
  • Learning disabilities – may include dyslexia or reading comprehension, math, and written expression disabilities
  • Physical and other disabilities –  may include mobility impairments, hearing or visual impairments, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and chronic health impairments

Accommodation Process
Whether a student requires extra time for testing or has a temporary accommodation need, they need to make the decision to step forward and contact the Accessibility Services Office.  Wilson College has established the following process:

1.    The student chooses to disclose a disability 
2.    The student requests accommodations through the Eligibility Process
3.    Documentation is provided by the student
4.    The Accessibility Services Coordinator will schedule an intake meeting with the student to discuss requests
5.    Any accommodations that are approved will be outlined in a letter and sent to designated faculty and the student
6.    The student self-advocates and communicates needs with faculty and staff as needed

It does not benefit the student if a parent attempts to complete the accommodation request process for the student.  Remember, this journey is about independence and growth.  

Tips for Parents
Encourage your student to navigate college independently and identify needed resources on campus.  

Provide your student with education about Accessibility Services in the college setting and let them know that information about their diagnoses will remain confidential.  

If you feel the need to speak with an Accessibility Services staff member, please include your student in the conversation.  Due to FERPA laws, your student’s educational information cannot be shared unless they provide permission by signing a release. 

Help your student determine their strengths and weaknesses and how to best use them in the college setting.  

Prepare your student for the transition to college, which is exhilarating but also occasionally challenging. Having proactive discussions about coping skills, effective communication, and conflict resolution before your student departs for their first semester can help him or her adapt to change and grow during difficult times.   

Differences Between High School and College for Students with Disabilities

High School


Applicable Laws

  • IDEA 2004 (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)
  • Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • Intention of IDEA is educational success


  • ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Title II)
  • Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973 
  • Intention of ADA is equal access


  • IEP (Individual Education Plan) and/or 504 Plan
  • School division pay evaluation expenses
  • Eligibility by IDEA category
  • Documentation should include complete diagnostic testing results.
  • Documentation must provide information on specific functional limitations and demonstrate the need for specific accommodations
  • Student pays evaluation expenses

Student Role

  • Student identified by the school
  • Primary responsibility for arranging accommodations belongs to school
  • Teachers approach you if they believe you need assistance


  • Student self identifies
  • Student has primary responsibility for self-advocacy and arranging accommodations
  • Professors expect students to seek help if needed

Parental Role

  • Parent has access to student records and can participate in accommodation process
  • Parent advocates for student


  • Parent does not have access to student records without written consent from student
  • Student advocates for self


  • 25-30 hours a week in the classroom
  • Emphasis on in class learning is primary, while independent reading and study is limited.
  • Learning is teacher focused 
  • eachers may modify or alter curriculum and/or pace of assignments
  • Reading assignments are short
  • Teachers direct students step by step with frequent reminders
  • Expectations of limited volume of writing while still learning writing process.
  • 12-15 hours a week in the classroom 
  • Emphasis on independent reading and study time.
  • Learning is student centered
  • Instructors not required to modify design or alter assignment deadlines
  • Substantial reading assignments in and out of class research/study
  • Expectation of frequent, independent review of class notes, text, and research
  • Expectations of substantial volume of proficient, college level writing


  • IEP or 504 plan may include modifications to test format and/or grading
  • Testing is frequent and covers small quantity of material
  • Teacher often take time to remind you of due dates and assignments
  • Many assignments and test are offered and no one assignment carries major course weight
  • Teachers frequently go over grades, due dates, and expectations 
  • Grading and test format changes are not available. Accommodations on how tests are given are available (extended time, etc.)
  • Testing often infrequent and covers large amounts of material that may be cumulative.
  • Makeup test frequently not an option (unless there is a legitimate reason)


  • Many assignments and test are offered and no one assignment carries major course weight
  • Teachers frequently go over grades, due dates, and expectations 
  • There may be very few assignments and each assignment may carry significant weight in final grade.
  • Long term assignments are common
  • Students are expected to read, save, and consult the course syllabus; Faculty give very little in way of reminders.

Study Responsibilities and Student Expectations

  • Tutoring and study support may be a service provided as part of an IEP or 504 plan
  • Others structure time and assignments.
  • Daily schedule generally follows a consistent routine
  • Study expectations may be as little as 0-2 hours a week and is generally last minute test preparation.
  • Students are not expected to learn or study information beyond what is covered in class and assigned.
  • Assimilation of information is generally provided by the teacher and often provided in a consolidated review or study guide
  • Function with tremendous structure, guidance, and specific proscribed direction
  • Tutoring DOES NOT fall under Disability Services. All student have a variety of academic tutoring opportunities available. 
  • Students must manage their own time and complete assignments independently
  • Daily schedule is not consistent and may have large blocks of time with no classes/labs.
  • Study expectations are 2-3 hours outside class for each hour spent in class.
  • Pursuit of inquiry and research is expected
  • Assimilation of information (notes, reading, research) is the student’s responsibility
  • Function autonomously (independence and self-sufficiency expected)