What is the difference between high school and college for students with disability accommodations?

The main difference between high school and college as it relates to disability accommodations is that the student must initiate and advocate for their accommodations. This advocacy includes completing an application to request their accommodations for the first time, sending their faculty notifications through the AIM (Accessible Information Management) system each semester, and speaking with instructors about their accommodations. If you feel you are not receiving your stated accommodations and you have spoken with your instructor about that concern, you can contact our office and we will work with you and your instructor towards a resolution.

Here are resources to help you understand the differences:
High School vs. College with Disabilities
Department of Education Office of Civil Rights: College Transition Information

What documentation is needed to qualify for services from Student Accessibility Services?

In general, the documentation should:

  • Be provided by a licensed professional, qualified in the appropriate specialty area; the report should be on letterhead, dated and signed.
  • Include both diagnostic information and an explanation of the current functional limitations of the condition. It should be thorough enough to indicate whether or not a major life activity is "substantially limited," that is it should explain what the extent, duration, and impact of the condition is
  • In most cases, it should be relatively recent; a suggested guideline is less than 3 years old. Documentation of conditions that are permanent or non-varying (e.g., a sensory disability) may not need to be as recent, but some chronic and/or changing conditions require even more current information to provide an accurate picture of functioning.
  • Be detailed enough to support the accommodations that are being requested. Accommodations are determined by assessing the impact of the person's disability on academic or work performance.
  • For a variable or progressive condition, include the degree and range of functioning.
  • Address the impact of medication or other treatments on major life activities.
How are accommodations determined for college?

After you complete an application requesting accommodations through our AIM Student Portal, our office will contact you via email requesting a consultation meeting time. In addition to reviewing your documentation, I ask you questions around the barriers you have experienced or expect in college and the life impact of your disability. We will determine together what accommodations are appropriate and reasonable based on your disability documentation and your narrative.

Our office follows the standards of AHEAD (Association on Higher Education and Disability). Its framework is guided by an interactive process with the student. Documentation is considered one piece of the puzzle. In a college setting, we do not provide remedial intervention, but we often have more assistive technology options than high schools.

AHEAD Professional Guidance on Accommodation Requests and Guidelines for Documentation
How can I prepare my student for the process of requesting and receiving accommodations in college?
  1. Make sure you have a conversation before your student arrives to college about their disability and how it impacts them. They should know their diagnosis, and they should understand the unique ways it has shaped who they are and how they navigate barriers.
    Self-Advocacy Worksheet
  2. Talk about how their disability also has contributed to unique strengths and discuss how they can leverage those strengths in college.
  3. Recognize the challenges and stigma your child has experienced. How do they plan to face those challenges in college? Ensure you are there to partner with them to problem solve but make them aware of the resources that will be available on campus.
  4. Encourage them to learn more about themselves and their disability. What do they need to thrive in an environment and how can they advocate for what they need?
    Learn How to Self-Advocate in College
  5. When they have received their admissions acceptance letter and Juniata credentials (email and password), help them complete their application for requesting accommodations on our website: New Student Accommodations
  6. Discuss your expectation with your student about how they will communicate if they are experiencing challenges in college. What is their plan? How will they communicate with you about their challenges? Do you expect them to achieve certain academic milestones? What is your plan to communicate with each other about grades...?
How does my student get support like academic coaching, tutoring, or other support?
All Juniata students have access to resources through Learning Services. As part of their Orientation, they will learn about these resources. Please visit the website to find out more:Learning Services Resources
What if my student does not request help or their request accommodations?
Your student will receive reminders when and how to request accommodations. We send them out at least twice to their email and post in the daily campus announcements. It is their choice whether to respond to those reminders.
How will I know how my student is doing academically or otherwise?
Someone from Juniata will reach out to your student if we receive either a “Notice of Concern,” “Stoplight Survey,” “Mid-term Notice,” or “Classroom Performance” alert from instructors or others on campus. If it is a “Notice of Concern,” about a student’s well-being, that will be directed to our Senior Associate of Health and Wellness in the Dean’s office, who will reach out to your student. If it is an academic concern, someone from Learning Services will reach out to request a meeting. We do not contact parents around grade related issues. See above (#6) regarding how your student plans to communicate with you about their grades.