Preparing Your Student

Although responsibilities that parents once assumed will now be the responsibility of the student, parents of students with disabilities can still play a key role in the student’s transition from high school to college.

In order to be of effective assistance in this transition process, parents can do the following:

Know and understand the differences between having, and receiving accommodations/services for a disability in High School and a disability in College.

Encourage your student to register with the Accessibility Resources Center, where they will be coached on how to proceed to obtain reasonable accommodations.

Encourage your student to take responsibility for their own academic concerns and limitations.

Help your student to both acknowledge his/her disability and to know and understand the limitations that stem from it. In other words, help your student to come to terms with the disability and its limitations. The more self-aware students are, the better they will be able to know how to access and use appropriate resources.

Make sure you are sending your student the message that it’s now up to them self, that you have faith in them as a student, and they have nothing to be ashamed of or apologize for.

Let your student know that a visit to the Accessibility Resources Center does not mean a commitment. The student is in control of his/her own academic career. Remind your student that Civil rights means the right to refuse any accommodation, but it also means that they ought to fully inform them self about what the choices may be before deciding.

Finally, let your student decide for himself/herself.

By educating students with disabilities and their parents, both parties can make a successful transition from a secondary to a postsecondary school, where all students are trained to become functional, productive, and capable members of society with the ability to communicate and compete with their peers through equal access.

The following are the steps your student must take to utilize the services/resources of Campus Access Services

Step 1

Self-identify as a student with a disability to the staff of the Accessibility Resources Center and make a specific request for reasonable accommodations

Step 2

Submit documentation of a disability, from an appropriate licensed professional, that is recent and verifies the nature of the disability, functional limitations, and the need for specific accommodation(s):  View Documentation Guidelines

Step 3

Attend a scheduled meeting with an Accessibility Resources Center staff member for a student intake (this will include a discussion about the student’s reasonable accommodations)

Step 4

Complete a Service Request Form each semester

Step 5

Pick up and Deliver the Verification of Disability/Request for Accommodation Letters to Faculty in a timely manner

Step 6

Ensure that the faculty member is aware of the need for an accommodation at each instance (e.g. before each exam)

Please be aware, the students are responsible for all the above steps on their own. As a parent, it is now your role to support your student by encouraging them to self-advocate. You can begin to encourage your student by going over the Steps for Requesting Reasonable Accommodations and have them call the Accessibility Resources Center if there are any questions.

Helpful Reminders

In order to assist your student with a smooth transition, the following should be considered:

Updated Testing

If possible, your student should be re-evaluated prior to graduation - this can be requested of their current school, or by seeking outside resources (this is more than an updated 504plan/IEP, see the Documentation Guidelines). 


Prior to graduation, encourage your student to meet with a professional who can explain in detail the nature and effects of their disability (how their disability impacts them in an academic setting).


Help your student to become comfortable describing their disability and encourage your student  to advocate for appropriate services.

Knowing the Law

PL 91-142 no longer governs your student’s services. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (1973), subpart E, and the Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended now apply to the services.


Encourage your student to speak directly with a Campus Access Services staff member about the student’s disability, and attend a scheduled intake, even if they do not plan to access any services immediately. In this way, the services will be more accessible should they decide to utilize them, or if an immediate need arises.

Responsibility Shift

You are no longer responsible for making sure your student receives services. The responsibility in college belongs solely to the student. Nothing can happen (services, accommodations, etc.) until your student identifies with the Accessibility Resources Center and requests accommodations. You can help your student to be prepared for this responsibility by allowing and encouraging them to take control of the interactions with all university offices.

ARC staff are aware of the difficulty of this role change, and welcome the opportunity to offer advice and general policy/office information to the parents of students with disabilities so that you can better support your student in becoming a self-advocate and successful college student.

Transition & Accommodations

All too often students with disabilities, and their parents, are lead by false expectations when transitioning from high school to college. For example:

  • As was the case in high school, students with disabilities and their parents may expect accommodation services to be the sole responsibility of the postsecondary institution of which they are attending.
  • In addition, students may still expect parents to act as the liaison or "voice" between themselves and the postsecondary institution concerning issues relating to their disabilities and accommodation services.

These two common misconceptions cripple a student’s ability to realize that they can become a high potential, self-sufficient, proactive, and responsible individual, which are key qualities that are expected of any student, regardless of a disability, who have advanced to a postsecondary institution. It is important to recognize:

  • In order for a student with a disability to overcome these, and other, misconceptions, the student must accept that he/she has a disability, understand and be able to communicate what the impact of that disability is, recognize that an accommodation is needed, and seek those services, on his/her own.
  • In effect, the parent of a student with a disability must accept that the parent can no longer be an advocate for that student. The parent’s role must shift from that of the "voice" to one of support in helping the student to find his/her own voice.
Some Important Differences
High School College
The Parent is the advocate The Student must self advocate
"Otherwise Qualified" for Public Education is simply being of the appropriate age to attend elementary through high school and having a disability "Otherwise Qualified" in college means a student must meet all entrance and academic requirements
School is responsible for providing physical or other therapy or personal care while in school Student is responsible for personal services such as personal care and/or medical and other related requirements/needs
School responsible for providing assessment of disability Student responsible for self-identification and for obtaining documentation of disability at student’s expense
School required to design special academic programs (IEP or 504 Plan) School required to provide accommodations for equal access to regular academic program
Teachers are expected to learn all they can about a student’s disability  Professors only need to know the accommodation the student is requesting
Everybody knows about a student’s placement for special education Students have a right to choose when and who to disclose or not to disclose a disability to
Absolute Entitlement to F.A.P.E. (Free & Appropriate Education). Required by I.D.E.A & 504 Civil Right to Equal Access to Education after meeting Eligibility Requirements. Required by 504 & the ADA as Amended 

Considering these key differences, in order for students with disabilities to make a successful transition from high school to college, students must first assume ownership of the following responsibilities:

  • Meet University qualifications and maintain the essential technical, academic, and institutional standards for courses, programs, services, jobs, and activities
  • Self-identify as a student with a disability to the appropriate university staff (at the University of New Haven, this is the Accessibility Resources Center) and seek information, counsel, and assistance for themselves when necessary

Follow established procedures for obtaining reasonable and appropriate accommodations, academic adjustment, and/or auxiliary aids, and do so in a timely fashion