How do the protections of ADA and 504 translate into your day-to-day life? The following tables show the differences in laws, classes, instruction, studying and grading which you can expect when you transition to college.


By Kristen Witucki on Friday, December 21, 2018 11:52:16 AM

Laws and Responsibilities

High School Postsecondary

The governing law is the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), which guarantees a free, appropriate public education (FAPE).

The governing laws are Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which provide for accessibility and reasonable accommodations to prevent discrimination on the basis of disability.

The law covers students ages 3-21 or until they meet regular high school diploma requirements.

The laws cover students with disabilities regardless of age. Schools may not discriminate in recruitment, admission, or after admission solely on the basis of a disability.

School attendance is mandatory.

Students decide to attend and will probably pay tuition.

Districts are required to identify students with disabilities through free assessment and the individualized education program (IEP) process

Students are responsible for revealing a disability and providing current documentation. They must be their own advocates.

Students receive special education and related services to address needs based on an identified disability.

Formal special education services are not available.

Services include individually designed instruction, modifications, and accommodations based on the IEP.

Reasonable accommodations may be made to provide equal access and participation. Schools are not required to make accommodations that modify essential elements of the curriculum, program, or activity or pose an undue burden for the school.

Individual students' needs based on the IEP may be addressed by program support for school personnel.

No formal program support for school personnel is provided.

Progress toward IEP goals is monitored and communicated to the parent(s) and/or the student.

Students are required to monitor their own progress and communicate their needs to instructors.

Schools assist in connecting the student with community support agencies if so identified as a transition need according to the IEP.

Students are responsible for making their own connections with community support agencies.

Parent involvement is encouraged.

College staff are not permitted to disclose information about students, even to parents, according to the federal Privacy Act.


High School Postsecondary

Students usually follow a school-directed schedule and proceed from one class to another.

Individual students must manage their own time and schedules.

General education classes are dictated by state or district requirements.

Classes are based on the student's field of study; requirements may vary.

Typically, a school year is 36 weeks long; some classes extend over both semesters. Summer classes may be offered but are not used to accelerate graduation.

The academic year is usually divided into two separate 15-week semesters plus a week for final exams. Some institutions are on a trimester schedule. Courses are offered fall, spring, and summer semesters, and summer classes may be used to accelerate graduation.

Class attendance is usually mandatory and monitored carefully.

Attendance policies may vary with each instructor (although lack of attendance may impact performance).

Classes generally have no more than 30-35 students.

Classes may have 100 or more students.

Textbooks are typically provided at little or no expense.

Textbooks can be expensive. An anticipated range for a full-time student is $250-$500 per semester.

Guidance is provided for students so they will be aware of different graduation requirements.

Graduation requirements are complex and vary for fields of study. You are responsible for monitoring your progress and seeking advice.

Modifications that change course outcomes may be offered based on the IEP.

Modifications that change course outcomes will not be offered. Modified high school courses may not be accepted in the admission process.


High School Postsecondary

Instructors grade and check completed homework.

Instructors may assume homework is completed and students are able to perform on a test.

Instructors may remind students of incomplete assignments.

Instructors may not remind students of incomplete assignments. It's your responsibility to check with your instructor to see if requirements are being met.

Instructors may know students' needs and approach students when they need assistance.

Instructors are usually open and helpful, but they expect students to initiate contact when assistance is needed.

Instructors may be available before, during, or after class.

Instructors may require students to attend scheduled office hours.

Instructors have been trained in teaching methods.

Instructors have content knowledge but not necessarily formal training in teaching methods.

Instructors often provide students with information missed during absence.

Instructors expect students to get information from classmates when they miss a class.

Instructors present material to help students understand what is in the textbook.

Instructors may not follow the textbook, but lectures enhance the topic area. You need to connect information presented in lectures and the textbook.

Instructors often write information on the board or overhead to be copied for notes, leading students through the thinking process.

Instructors may lecture nonstop. If they write on the board, it may be to support the lecture, not summarize it. (Good notes are a must, or a tape recorder may be used.), and connect seemingly unrelated information.

Instructors often take time to remind students of assignment and test dates.

Instructors expect students to read, save, and refer back to the course syllabus. Syllabi are your way of knowing exactly what is expected of you, when assignments are due, and how you will be graded.


High School Postsecondary

Study time outside of class may vary (may be as little as 1-3 hours per week).

Generally, students need to study at least 2-3 hours outside of class for each hour in class.

Instructors may review class notes and text material regularly for classes.

Students should review class notes and text material regularly. Use the time between classes carefully.

Students are expected to read short assignments that are discussed and re-taught.

Substantial amounts of assigned reading and writing may not be directly ad-dressed in class. It's up to you to read and understand assigned material or to access support, such as audio books.


High School Postsecondary

There is frequent testing on small amounts of material.

There is usually infrequent testing (2-3 times a semester). Testing may be cumulative and cover large amounts of material. (You need to organize material to prepare for tests.) Some classes may require only papers and/or projects instead of tests.

Make-up tests are often available.

Make-up tests are seldom an option and may have to be requested.

Test dates can be arranged to avoid conflicts with other events.

Usually, scheduled tests are without regard to other demands.

Frequently, review sessions emphasize important concepts prior to tests.

Faculty rarely offer review sessions; if so, students are expected to be prepared and to be active participants. Students may need to set up their own study groups.


High School Postsecondary

Grades are given for most assigned work.

Grades may not be provided for all assigned work.

Good homework grades may assist in raising overall grade when test grades are lower.

Tests and major papers provide the majority of the grade.

Extra-credit options are often available.

Generally speaking, extra-credit options are not used to raise a grade.

Initial test grades, especially when low, may not have adverse effect on grade.

First tests are often "wake up" calls to let you know what is expected. (Watch out! They may account for a substantial part of your final grade. Contact the instructor, academic advisor, or student accessibility personnel if you do poorly.)

Graduation requirements may be met with a grade of D or higher.

Requirements may be met only if the student's average meets departmental standards (generally a 2.0 [C] or higher).

Other Factors to Consider

High School Postsecondary

State and/or district policies may determine eligibility for participation in extracurricular activities.

Postsecondary institution policies may determine eligibility for participation in extracurricular activities.

Parents typically manage finances for school-related activities.

Students are responsible for money management for basic needs and extra spending money. Outside jobs may be necessary and are one more "activity" to consider for time management.

Parents and teachers may provide support and guidance and setting priorities.

Students are responsible for setting their own priorities.

Source: Adapted by Ellen Trief with permission from Foothill College Disability Resource Center, Los Altos Hills, CA, and the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX.

Reprinted from College Bound: Guide for Students with Visual Impairments, by Ellen Trief and Raquel Feeney. Copyright (c) 2005 by AFB Press, American Foundation for the Blind. All rights reserved.