The transition into a university setting can be stressful for any student, but for parents of students with disabilities, unique concerns may also be present. This information was developed to help clarify roles and make the transition smoother.
What are the responsibilities of my student if he/she has a disability and is enrolled in a post-secondary educational institute?
- Laws regarding confidentiality and responsibility for disclosure change when your student becomes 18 or enrolls in a post-secondary institution. It is important that your student is comfortable with taking the leading role in working with the DRC. Allow him/her to make the first contact with the DRC on campus.
- Provide appropriate and current documentation (not just an IEP or 504 Plan) that verifies your student’s disability and requested accommodations that are specific to the higher education environment.
- Your student should have a well-developed understanding of his/her disability and any support needed to be successful. Your student will need to be able to speak effectively with faculty or other staff regarding accommodation plans and any support services needed.
- Your student may assume what was provided in high school will be the same in post-secondary education. It is important for your student to work closely with the DRC to understand what PLNU considers reasonable accommodations.
What is the post-secondary educational institute’s responsibility to students who are disabled?
- To provide equal access to programs or services in accordance with federal and state laws
- To determine if the student is eligible for services
- To maintain confidentiality of disability-related information and provide an appropriate procedure for students to disclose accommodation information to faculty or staff
- To allow for reasonable accommodations, adjustments, and modifications of courses, programs, or services on a case-by-case basis (as long as these accommodations do not alter core requirements, classes, or programs)
- To provide a grievance policy whereby students can have concerns about reasonable accommodations or modifications investigated
- To develop policies and procedures related to students with disabilities and offer support toward the goal of equitable access for all parties
What are the responsibilities of parents of students with disabilities enrolled in a post-secondary educational institute?
- Understand that your role has changed. Parents are often accustomed to advocating for their student in K-12 special education settings. In the collegiate level, this responsibility becomes one of self-advocacy. You are support and information for them, but the responsibility is now up to your student.
- Encourage your student to get services set up early. Sometimes students in college no longer want to be treated “separately” and may avoid this. Encourage them to set up services, try it out, and then decide if they wish to continue or discontinue services.
- Assist your student in getting appropriate documentation. This may require assistance because it may involve outside parties (e.g., physician, psychologist). Assist them, but allow your student to provide the information.
- Go through documentation with your student. What is the diagnosis? What accommodations are recommended? What does having a disability mean on a daily basis? What are the concerns? What are your student’s strengths and weaknesses?
- Communicate with your student on a regular basis. Ask questions not only about grades, but about what they are learning, if they are seeking supportive services, and how they are handling the transition.
- Help your student learn to be a self-advocate. If your student has a concern, ask if this is something they can and should handle. Do they know who to contact? If not, help them figure out the next steps to take, but allow them to act. They should send their own email or make their own phone calls/appointments with appropriate people who can assist them. Problem solve with them, not for them.
- Let go a little. Your student will need to test the waters on his/her own. This is part of a transitional process, and it is important to know when to step in and help and when to allow your student to have consequences for his/her own choices.