Increasing numbers of students with disabilities are pursuing postsecondary education. In 1998, approximately 9% of newly enrolled freshmen in postsecondary education reported a disability. This number has tripled since 1978, when approximately 3% of entering students reported disabilities (HEATH Resource Center). The American with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are key laws that protect the rights of students with disabilities. These laws mandate equal access for individuals with disabilities to all of the programs, courses, and activities offered by postsecondary institutions.

Students are the best sources of information regarding their accommodation needs. Students are responsible for disclosing their disabilities, requesting accommodations and providing documentation of their disabilities.

Although accommodations vary based on student needs and the campus service being accessed, it is useful for staff to be aware of accommodation strategies commonly used for service and employment activities. With this basic knowledge you will be better prepared to ask students to clarify their needs and to discuss accommodation requests. For more information consult the DO-IT publication Equal Access: Universal Design of Student Services.