Many students receiving disability services at KSU also received accommodations during elementary through high school. If this was your case, then you are familiar with the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Section 504 Plan that guided your earlier education. You may have become used to a fair amount of oversight and intervention on your behalf by a team of teachers and counselors. You likely received periodic testing, mandatory progress reviews, and may have been provided with personal classroom aides. Your parents or guardians may also have been directly involved in your education and had a role in the decision making concerning the services you received.
Services at the postsecondary level work somewhat differently.
- Legal protections exist so that discrimination against admitting otherwise qualified students with disabilities does not occur. However, the University’s admission criteria are the same for a person with a disability as they are for other students. Likewise, accommodations exist to remove unfair barriers to learning and physical access, but grading standards are the same for all students. Approved accommodations are also not permitted to “water down” or compromise essential course content. As a result, your instructors cannot not change the material they are teaching or reduce their grading standards to accommodate a disability. They must, however, provide reasonable accommodations.
- Use of services is student-driven rather than directed by the institution or by parents. Students have the right to decide what accommodations they will or will not accept when offered.
- Students needing accommodations must take the initiative to contact the DRC office and request help. You may instead choose not to identify yourself as having a disability and thereby forego services. Some students want to be independent and do not immediately ask for accommodations. The DRC does not recommend this. It is better to receive accommodations early and then drop them later if you do not need them. If you wait, you will likely fall behind, and you may not be able to catch up, even with help.
- You may stop using accommodations at any time you choose to do so.
- Although you may continue to qualify for services throughout your time at KSU, accommodations are not automatically renewed every semester. Because of schedule changes, you must contact the DRC office to renew your request for accommodations each new semester.
- You will need to have a more interactive relationship with your professors and service providers than you did in high school. You must let your instructors and the DRC know if you are having difficulty in class. You must notify the DRC if your services are not working for you. Be assured though, that the DRC office will “break the ice” with your professors by providing written notification of your approval for accommodations and will also make personal contact with your instructors. At your request, we will help you trouble-shoot any difficulties.
- Depending upon your particular high school experience, you may notice some differences in the type and scope of accommodations available at the University. Personally prescribed devices such as assistive technology for personal use, attendants, individual aides, and readers for personal use or study, are not provided by the University, although you may qualify for financial assistance through an external agency and may receive some of those services through those agencies. Specific accommodations are always determined on a case-by-case basis, and you will fully participate in the process. However, the University does provide free tutoring services through the Academic Center for Excellence located on the ground floor of the Student Center. An instructor who specializes in serving individuals with disabilities also works with the center.
- Since IEPs, High School 504 Plans, and Transition Plans are not used at the University and are not always acceptable as the sole documentation of a disability, we will need a report from a qualified professional (e.g., physician, psychologist, licensed mental health counselor) stating your current disability. Standardized test results or explanation of how the diagnosis was reached, and a clear determination that the disability substantially impacts your academic performance or other major life activity must also be included.
A diagnosis supported by testing, such as a Specific Learning Disability, must be based on adult measures. Since your teachers/counselors may be unaware that different regulations apply to universities, you may want to clarify the status of your evaluation between your junior and senior year of high school. If the documentation you have does not meet KSU’s standards regarding provider’s credentials, date of evaluation, or diagnostic detail, you will be required to obtain a new evaluation before receiving services. While the University will not provide or pay for the evaluation, the DRC office can make a referral for testing in the surrounding community.