Obtaining Accommodations in Higher Education

Obtaining classroom accommodations changes dramatically as you move from the pre-college (K-12) school system to the college level. In the K-12 system the responsibility for determining and providing accommodations rest with the teachers and administrators of the school. Parents are usually actively involved in this process. In the college system the responsibility for providing the required documentation of your disability and requesting academic accommodations is yours alone. Each college or university has its own specific disability documentation policy. What is acceptable at one school may not be acceptable at another. Services, policies and procedures also vary from school to school.

In order to prepare for your transition to college you should:

Talk with your high school disability specialist, special education teacher, counselor or IEP (Individualized Education Plan) team members.

  • If you don't already know, ask specifically what your disability is and how it affects your learning.
  • Ask what specific accommodations are being provided to you now.
  • Ask what accommodations they think you will need in college. Request that they help you practice requesting accommodations from your teachers.

Talk with the Disabled Student Services Coordinator.

  • Once you have located a college of interest, contact the disabled student services office for that campus and ask what disability-related documentation you will need to provide in order to receive accommodations at that school. Also ask about typical accommodations and services they provide to students with disabilities similar to yours.
    Washington State Colleges' Disabled Student Services Contacts
  • If you are still interested in this school, schedule an appointment with a counselor in the disabled student services office. Bring your documentation and discuss specific accommodations that the college can provide. If possible, schedule your appointment about 4-6 six weeks before the start of the term. This way you have allowed the college and yourself time to resolve all accommodation issues before the first day of classes.