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Lehigh Carbon Community College

Academic Support Office (ASO) Student Guide

The Academic Support Office is open and accessible to students with disabilities. We are committed to assisting qualified students to accomplish their educational goals and assuring equal opportunity to derive all the benefits of campus life. Too often, students with disabilities struggle to make a successful transition to college. It’s easy to understand why the transition can be so difficult. The laws are different, and so is the accommodation process. RU wants to provide information that may ease the transition and provide a successful beginning to college life.

Differences Between Federal Disability Laws

IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are very different. In high schools for example, under IDEA, special education program procedures may apply primarily to Learning Disabilities. High school students, who are in wheelchairs, may fall under a subpart of Section 504. IEPs (Individual Education Plans) are developed for these students simply because that is the procedure required under the IDEA mandated program. The misunderstanding comes from the practice of assuming that the “504 Plan” or the IEP developed at a high school will be binding on a college or university.

High School Disability Laws:

  • IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Civil Rights Restoration Act

College Disability Laws:

  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Civil Rights Restoration Act

Responsibilities at High Schools vs. Colleges & Universities

High School Responsibilities:

  • Identify students with disabilities
  • Provide assessment of disabilities
  • Classify disabilities according to specified diagnostic categories
  • Involve parents or guardians in placement decisions
  • Provide certain non-academic services
  • Place student in programs where they can benefit (in any way) by placement committee with parent participation and approval
  • Structure a large part of the student’s weekly schedule
  • Modify educational programs
  • Prepare IEPs (Individual Education Plans)
  • Provide a free and appropriate education
  • Provide appropriate services by the school nurse or health services

 College 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 student provided verifying documents.
  • 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.

Colleges and Universities are Generally Not Required to:

  • 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 IEPs (Individual Education Plans)
  • Other differences may exist for colleges and universities which provide housing programs, health services, psychological counseling services, and extensive international programs.

Student Responsibilities at a College or University

In contrast to the K-12 educational experience, where many of the responsibilities are assumed by the school, student responsibilities at a college or university change as follows:

  • Act as independent adults
  • Self-identify or disclose their disability
  • 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

Things to Remember

  • Students attending colleges and universities are considered adults, with privacy and confidentiality protections. RU staff cannot talk with parents and guardians about a student’s academic activities as in the K-12 setting 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. However, the documentation should verify the disability, describe the extent/severity of the impairment and provide information regarding the functional impact of the disability which supports the need for a specific accommodation.
  • College students should structure and plan their own study time. Most colleges do not set up study periods or provide for time to do homework during classes.
  • Instructors and classes may differ regarding attendance requirements, scheduling assignment due dates and exams. It is generally the student’s responsibility to study 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.