College vs. High School Regulations

Difference in ADA 504 & IDEA:

Especially for first year students and their parents, it is important to know that ADA 504 is different from the IDEA modifications they may have had in high school. The purpose of ADA accommodations is not to guarantee a student's success but to offer equal access to the college's programs, services, and activities. At the university level, we offer accommodations for assignments but course requirements are not altered or modified on the college level. Students with disabilities are required to meet all expectations for the course. Convenience is not an accommodation. Individuals wanting to better understand the differences between ADA and IDEA may wish to visit the following websites:

College vs High School


Differences in Secondary and Post-Secondary Education for Students with Disabilities (adapted from: Kay McVey, Faculty Development Specialist, PROJECT CONNECT, Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas)

  Secondary Education Post-Secondary Education
What is the law? IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) Sec. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990)
​What is the intent of the law? ​Free appropriate education for all students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment. ​Ensure that no otherwise qualified person is discriminated against in federally funded programs.
Who is covered under the law?​ ​All infants, children and youth requiring special education until age 21 or graduation from high school. ​All qualified persons who meet entry criteria of the college and can document a disability as defined by ADA.
What is a disability? ​IDEA provides a list of disabilities and includes specific learning disability. Any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
Who is responsible for identifying and documenting need? School districts are responsible for identifying, evaluating students, and planning educational programs. Students are responsible for self-identifying to the college and providing documentation of their disability.
Who is responsible for initiating service delivery? ​School districts are responsible for providing special instruction, individualized instruction plans, and/or accommodations. ​Students are responsible for requesting disability services and/or accommodations.  These are provided at no cost to the individual or family.
​What related services are mandated? School districts must provide rehabilitation counseling, medical services, personal aides, social work and other services as needed in the school day. College provides physical, academic, and program access.  Related services of a personal nature are the responsibility of the individual or family.
What about self-advocacy? The parent or guardian is the primary advocate.  Students learn about their disability, the accommodations they need, and ways to become a self-advocate. ​Students are expected to be their own advocates.
​Who is responsible for enforcing the law? ​IDEA is basically a funding statute, enforced by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services in the U.S. Department of Education. ADA/504 are civil rights statutes, enforced by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the Department of Justice, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

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Article ID: 136624
Wed 11/3/21 7:43 PM
Fri 3/31/23 10:15 AM

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