Parent Information

The Transition from High School to College, What Parents Need to Know

Disability Services (ACCESS) at the University of Vermont is committed to helping students with disabilities and their parents make a smooth transition from high school to the university. First, it is helpful to understand that the laws governing a university education are different from those governing K-12 and so is the accommodation process. Students with disabilities who received accommodations in high school should be aware that universities do not necessarily provide the same accommodations set forth in their IEP or 504 Plan.

The differences between IDEA (K-12) and ADA/504 (post-secondary education): 

High schools must:

* Identify students with disabilities
* Provide assessment of learning disabilities
* Involve parents in decision-making
* Provide non-academic services
* Modify educational programs
* Prepare Individual Education Plans (IEP)s or 504 plans depending on student eligibility
* Provide a free and appropriate education

Post-secondary institutions must:

* Protect the student’s right to privacy and confidentiality (this  includes conversations with parents)
* Provide equal access to programs and services that are offered to non-disabled students
* Make information available to students regarding office locations  and procedures for requesting  accommodations
* Evaluate documentation
* Determine whether the student’s disability substantially limits  one or more major life activities which would qualify the student  for accommodations.
* Provide reasonable accommodations, meaning those accommodations  that enable the student to compete equitably with their non-disabled peers
* Provide reasonable and equal access to generally available programs
* Make reasonable classroom adjustments that do not alter the integrity or essential components or technical standards of a  course or program
* Inform students of their rights and responsibilities

Post-secondary institutions are not required to:

* Reduce or waive the essential requirements of a course or program
* Provide evaluations or testing to diagnosis a disability
* Provide personal attendants
* Provide tutoring beyond what is available to all students
* Prepare IEPs
* Ensure a student is academically successful
* Keep parents informed

The student is responsible to:

* Disclose his/her disability to Disability Services  (ACCESS) and provide documentation
* Know about the nature of their disability and how accommodations help
* Act on his/her own behalf as an independent
* Discuss classroom and testing accommodations with faculty members  in accordance with university policy
* Arrange and pay for personal care attendants if needed


Important Things to Remember

Students who attend college are considered to be adults, protected by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Disability Services (ACCESS) staff cannot talk to parents about confidential information, including academic activities without a student's written permission.. Parents need to talk to the student directly. Students act as responsible adults when disclosing disabilities and requesting accommodations.


How Parents Can Help their Student

* Listen and provide support and consultation, but give your student the space to figure it out on their own. Resist the urge to “fix”  the problem.
* Encourage them to make connections. Direct your student to talk with Disability Services (ACCESS), their professors, their academic advisor, and other individuals who can assist them while at the University of Vermont.
* Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Mistakes are part of the learning process; allow them to learn from their experiences.
* Help promote your student’s self advocacy by encouraging them to set their own goals and take ownership of their education.
* Disability Services (ACCESS) welcomes parents’ appropriate involvement. However: be aware that because of FERPA, Disability Services (ACCESS) professionals cannot share information with parents without a student’s written permission.
* Trust the Disability Services (ACCESS)  process. Our role is to guide students through this developmental process in order to help them become independent and responsible adults.


Office for Civil Rights letter to Parents:


Educational Journey

Educational Journey graphic organizer (PDF)