Students with diagnosed physical or learning disabilities are encouraged to explore programs and services that are specifically designed to meet their post-secondary educational needs and goals. Students with Learning Disabilities (LD) and Attention Deficient Disorder (ADD) are attending colleges in larger numbers than ever before, succeeding there, and graduating. They are enrolled in varying types of colleges/universities and participate in the mainstream of college life, including advancement to graduate and professional programs. With the right preparation and proper guidance such students can choose a suitable college, major in any area of interest, and graduate successfully.
There are colleges that offer comprehensive programs designed specifically for students with disabilities and colleges that make a number of special services available, but do not offer comprehensive programs. Typically, the components of a comprehensive program are:
- Diagnostic testing
- Special courses
Range of supplementary services and aids
The keys to a comprehensive program lies in the fact that its services are provided in a manner that is specifically designed to meet the needs of the particular student, and it is staffed with personnel that have extensive training and experience. Colleges without a comprehensive program may offer many of the same services as mentioned previously, but there are two important differences. These colleges do not offer as extensive a range of services as do the comprehensive programs. Colleges offering services do not typically employ professional staff members who have significant training or experience with the learning disabled student. Nonetheless, these services may be very beneficial to some students, and may provide all the assistance that is necessary for them to succeed in college.
During the college search process, students should raise questions in each college setting about the availability of support services, the presence of trained Learning Disabled specialists, and the provision for classroom modification. Generally, it is recommended that students should indicate the accommodations/modifications that they are receiving in high school, and the nature of the same that will be necessary in college. If any of the colleges has a special learning support program, the student should also be in contact with the director of that program during the college search process.
Colleges that have a program for learning disabled students frequently require professional assessment which document and identify the specific learning disability of the student-applicant. Students and parents should work closely with the Regional's Special Education Department and the Guidance Department.
Guidelines for Non-Standard Administration of PSAT, SAT, AP, ACT for Students with Disabilities
Students may be eligible for a non-standard administration of the PSAT, SAT, AP or ACT based upon documented special learning needs. (These accommodations may include extended testing time, extra breaks, computer access, auditory assistance, manual assistance, large-print, medication, etc). Typically, these needs would be described in an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), or on other signed documents. The documents must adhere to the guidelines established by the College Board or ACT testing programs as described in their literature. To be eligible for College Board testing, a student must:
- Have a disability that necessitates testing accommodations.
- Have a documentation on file at the school that supports the need for requested accommodations and meets the Guidelines for Documentation, and
- Receive and use the requested accommodations, due to the disability, for school-based tests.
If all of these requirements are not met, a student may still be eligible for accommodations on College Board tests. The student may send his/her disability documentation with the Student Eligibility Form to the College Board. The College Board will review the documentation and make a determination of eligibility.
To review the College Board's guidelines for accommodations, please go to: www.collegeboard.com/ssd/. Requests for testing accommodations cannot be made online.
To request testing accommodations you must meet the eligibility criteria explained in the publication Student Eligibility Form, and complete pages 1 & 2 of the form in pencil. Copies of this form are available in the Special Education Office and in the Guidance Office.
Students who wish to receive accommodations on the ACT should speak with their guidance counselor.
College Resources for Students with Disabilities guidebook: http://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/college-resource-center/resources-for-students-with-disabilities/