FAQ’s – Parents
1. Which colleges are the best for students with learning disabilities?
It would be impossible for anyone to rank colleges and universities in such a way. First, as you may already have learned years ago, the term learning disability is a catch-all phrase that describes a vast array of major impediments to learning. Under §504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA, each college and university is required to provide academic adjustments (i.e., accommodations) to ensure that students with learning disabilities can have access to their programs. However, there are many colleges and universities that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide a variety of programs and services to better serve students with learning disabilities. If you believe your child would benefit from a more intense program of services, it will be necessary to research the various colleges and universities providing these services to determine which best fits your child’s needs. Two sources for finding this information include:
The Princeton Review K&W Guide for Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities or ADD. ISBN 037576495X
Peterson’s Colleges with Programs for Students with Learning Disabilities or Attention Deficit Disorders. ISBN 0768912687
2. What kinds of housing options are there for my child in college?
Housing is exactly that, an option. Many colleges and universities do not provide any housing; others have outsourced their housing to private organizations or other agencies. Others offer very limited housing and others still will provide a full-scale of choices. If the college offers housing, it must ensure that the housing is accessible to students with disabilities. It is very important to discuss your child’s needs with appropriate college officials well in advance to ensure that any accommodations that might be necessary can be handled in a timely manner.
3. Does the college have a set up to handle students with food allergies?
If the college offers a meal plan, then it is important to discuss this issue with appropriate college officials well in advance to ensure that your child’s needs can be met under the meal plan. Often, food services on campus are contracted out to private companies and while this does not release the college from its obligations under a meal plan, it may complicate the process of informing appropriate officials of your child’s needs and implementing appropriate accommodations. If the college does not offer a meal plan of any sort and students are on their own to utilize on-campus or off-campus food establishments, then the matter is solely yours to resolve; however, it would still be worthwhile to discuss this issue with the disabled student services office on campus. More than likely, they have experiences and knowledge with this and can assist.
4. Can we visit the disabled student office on our college tour?
More than likely the office would love to have you visit and learn about their services, processes, and personnel. However, if your visit is occurring during an academic term, they may be very busy and if it occurs during the summer or between terms, they may not be in the office. Either way, it is imperative to make an appointment in advance so someone can be available to answer your questions.
5. My child has an IEP/504 Plan. Why isn’t that good enough for college?
An IEP or 504 Plan addresses your child’s needs in the K-12 educational program. Postsecondary education is a totally different arena. Almost everything about the postsecondary system is different from what you’ve experienced before. This includes how a college may address your child’s needs for accessing its educational program and the information it needs to accomplish this. While the IEP or 504 Plan may provide the disabled student services office with some of what it will need, additional information may be required. This chart gives a general overview of the differences in the various laws: http://www.postitt.org/transition_topics/pu_compare.htm See the additional information below about the IDEA, ADA and civil rights.
6. My child will need some extra help to understand the class material. Can someone help him with that?
The short answer is possibly, more than likely probably; however, you may have to pay for it yourself. Because of Federal guidelines, colleges are not mandated to provide tutorial services to ensure access to their educational programs. Often, colleges provide tutorial services to all their students and, if so, they must ensure that the tutorial programs are accessible. Because of the wide range and variety of tutorial services offered by colleges, this would be a mandatory issue to bring up to the colleges your child is considering to attend.
7. How does my son get special arrangements for the SAT?
You must make arrangements with Educational Testing Services (ETS) who administer the SAT. Usually, the high school officials who have been working with your son or the school official responsible for administering the SAT should have all the information necessary and should be assisting with the process. Of course, you could contact ETS directly to find out what would be necessary. You should plan on this well in advance of any scheduled administration of the exam.
8. We just bought an adapted laptop for our daughter with a physical disability. Can the college help pay for any special equipment for her?
The college is responsible for ensuring that their programs and activities are accessible to students with disabilities. If this means that physical modifications are needed such as a raised desk or lowered laboratory table, then the college takes care of that. Special equipment of a personal nature is not necessarily paid for by a college. However, the distinctions between modified equipment for accessibility and personal special equipment can vary so it is always best to discuss these issues with the disabled student services personnel at the college. If your daughter is a client of Vocational Rehabilitation, she should be discussing these issues with her counselor as well.