The transition into a university setting is an exciting time; for students with disabilities, unique needs are also present. The Educational Access Center (EAC) is here to assist in this transition. Information regarding roles in the transition process are summarized below. Detailed information on transition can be found at www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/transitionguide.html.
What are the responsibilities of students if they have a disability and are planning to enroll at PLNU?
- Unlike K – 12 school settings, laws regarding confidentiality and responsibility for disclosure change at age 18 or when a person enrolls in a post-secondary institution. It is important that the student is comfortable taking the leading role in working with the EAC. Students need to make the first contact with the EAC if accommodations are needed for academic and non-academic participation in campus activities by emailing email@example.com.
- Providing appropriate and current documentation confirming diagnosis that verifies the student’s disability and requested accommodations is necessary so that our team can determine accommodations that are specific to the higher education environment.
- Students should have a well-developed understanding of their disability and any support needed to be successful. You will need to be able to speak effectively with faculty or other staff regarding accommodation plans and any support services needed.
- Students cannot assume what was provided in high school will be the same in college. It is important for you to work closely with the EAC to understand what PLNU considers reasonable accommodations.
What is the PLNU’s responsibility to students with disabilities?
- To determine if the student is eligible for EAC services
- To maintain confidentiality of disability-related information and provide an appropriate procedure for students to disclose accommodation information to faculty and staff
- To provide equal access to programs or services in accordance with state and federal laws (see https://www.pacer.org/transition/resource-library/publications/NPC-42.pdf for explanation)
- To allow for reasonable accommodations or adjustments in 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 raise concerns about reasonable accommodations re-evaluated
- To develop policies and procedures related to students with disabilities and offer support toward the goal of equitable access for all parties
We offer a credit-bearing course to students to help navigate self-advocacy in higher education
What are the responsibilities of parents of students with disabilities enrolled at PLNU?
- 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 can provide support and information for them, but the responsibility is now up to the student.
- Encourage your student to get services set up early. Sometimes students in college no longer wanting to be treated differently display avoidance behaviors. Encourage them to set up accommodations, try them 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. Is it current (past 3 years) or is a provider visit needed? 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. The EAC communicates directly with students; parents are involved when the student invites them and a disclosure form is on record.
- Let go a little. Students will need to test the waters on their own. This is part of a transitional process, and it is important to know when to step in and help and when to allow adult children to have consequences for their own choices.
- The Office for Civil Rights has more information on the transition of students with disabilities to postsecondary education that can be helpful when planning for academic success throughout the college experience (www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/transitionguide.html and https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/auxaids.html).