Student Guide

Perimeter College Disability Services’ Student Guide

Georgia State University is open and accessible to students with disabilities. The university is committed to providing assistance to students to enable them to accomplish their educational goals and to assure them an equal opportunity to derive all of the benefits of campus life. Too often students with disabilities struggle to make a successful transition to college. Part of the difficulty is the differences in the laws and accommodation processes between high school and colleges and universities. Hopefully, this information will help ease the transition and provide a successful beginning to college life.

Federal Disability Laws
Different federal disability laws apply to K-12 and postsecondary institutions. For example, special education programs in high schools fall under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and may primarily focus on learning disabilities. High school students with physical disabilities may fall under a subpart of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. One of the requirements of IDEA is the development of an Individual Education Plans (IEPs). Unfortunately, students and their parents often assume that the IEP developed in high school will be binding on a college or university but is not, since colleges and universities are not covered by IDEA. The differences in the disability laws that cover these educational institutions lead to differences in their responsibilities towards their students with disabilities.

High Schools
The following federal disability laws apply to high schools:

Based on these disability laws, high schools have the following responsibilities:

  • Identify students with disabilities.
  • Provide assessment of disabilities.
  • Classify disabilities according to specified diagnostic categories.
  • Place student in programs which may benefit them in any way.
  • Involve parents or guardians in placement decisions.
  • Provide certain non-academic services.
  • Structure a large part of the student’s weekly schedule.
  • Modify educational programs.
  • Prepare Individual Education Plans (IEPs).
  • Provide a free and appropriate education.
  • Provide appropriate nursing and health services.

Colleges and Universities
The following federal disability laws apply to colleges and universities:

Based on these disability laws, colleges and universities have the following responsibilities:

  • Protect a student’s right to privacy and confidentiality.
  • Provide access to programs and services which are offered to persons without disabilities.
  • Inform students of office location and procedures for requesting accommodations.
  • Accept and evaluate verifying documentation.
  • Determine that a mental or physical impairment causes a substantial limitation of a major life activity based on verifying documents provided by students.
  • Determine whether a student is otherwise qualified for participation in the program or service, with or without accommodations, and if so, whether a reasonable accommodation is possible.
  • Make reasonable accommodations for students who meet the above qualifying criteria.
  • Provide reasonable access to program and service choices equal to those available to the general public.
  • Make reasonable adjustments to teaching methods which do not alter the essential content or requirements of the course or program.
  • Assure that off campus and contracted program facilities also comply with Section 504 (subpart E) and ADA.
  • Inform students of their rights and responsibilities.

Based on these disability laws, colleges and universities are not responsible or required to do the following:

  • Reduce or adjust the essential requirements of a course or program.
  • Conduct testing and assessment of learning disabilities.
  • Provide personal attendants.
  • Provide personal or private tutors.
  • Prepare Individual Education Plans (IEPs)

Note: Other differences may exist for colleges and universities which provide housing programs, health services, psychological counseling services and extensive international programs.

Based on these disability laws, college and university students have the following responsibilities:

  • Self-identify or disclose their disability to the appropriate office.
  • Provide verifying documentation.
  • Obtain assessment and test results and provide them to the college or university.
  • Arrange their own weekly schedules.
  • Contact their instructors regarding requests for accommodations.
  • Arrange for and obtain their own personal tutoring.

Checklist for Students Who Plan to Attend College:

  • Identify sources of college and university information.
  • Develop a tentative list of colleges and universities.
  • Research services offered by the institutions.
  • Research and learn academic and social skills needed for success in a college or university setting.
  • Inquire about documentation of disability requirements.
  • Discuss special testing arrangements for entrance and placement tests.
  • Plan college or university visits.
  • Apply early.
  • If accepted by a college or university, contact that institution’s disability services office.

Things to Remember:

  • Students attending colleges and universities are considered adults, with privacy and confidentiality protections. (Refer to Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) for more information on these protections.) Georgia State University faculty and staff cannot talk with parents and guardians about a student’s academic activities or disability accommodations without explicit permission from the student.
  • Documentation requirements may vary from institution to institution. Each institution has the right to establish its own guidelines for documentation requirements. Check with each institution to which you apply to obtain the documentation requirements. The documentation should verify the disability, describe the extent and severity of the impairment and provide information regarding the functional impact of the disability which supports the need for a specific accommodation.
  • College students need to structure and plan their own study time; most colleges do not set up study periods or provide for time for homework during classes.
  • Instructors and classes may differ regarding attendance requirements, scheduling assignment due dates, assigning grades and exams. It is the student’s responsibility to carefully read each professor’s syllabus to determine these requirements. Attendance may be considered an essential requirement of some courses and therefore not subject to waiver or reduction. Grades reflect the quality of the work submitted.