Transition to college can be difficult for students with disabilities. Students who come to DominicanUniversity after receiving services through their high schools must adjust to the different laws regarding access to services. At the elementary and secondary levels, the school district’s services were mandated by the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, P.L. 94-142, which puts the responsibility on the school district to identify students with special needs, test them, and provide them with accommodations.
At the college/university level, however, procedures change dramatically for the student with a disability. The law changes and special needs services are governed by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the American with Disabilities Act of 1990. Now the responsibility shifts, and the student becomes responsible for self-identification to the college/university. The student must find the disability support services provider on campus and provide appropriate documentation of the disability. While the institution is responsible for providing the student with reasonable accommodations, it is the student who must demonstrate eligibility and ask for services.
Self-advocacy is a skill that students with disabilities must learn and practice inside and outside of classroom. Students benefit when they understand the limitations and strengths of their disabilities and can communicate these to their instructors. Students must also know what kind of classroom assistance will help them maximize their academic abilities. Students are encouraged to approach their instructors early in the semester in order to explain their disabilities and request accommodations.