Disability Support Services provides a variety of academic support services for eligible students. Eligible students are entitled to reasonable accommodations that allow them to access educational programs and other services.
Students need to provide documentation to support the presence of a disability. These documents should provide a clear diagnostic statement of the disability and information on the functional impact of that disability. It should also include a description of current and past accommodations, services, and/or medications and effectiveness of those medications. Documents such as an Individual Education Plan (IEP), 504 Plan and/or current evaluation may be submitted for consideration.
Accommodations and services that might be available to the student with disabilities are extended testing time, testing in a quiet space, homework assistance, test reader, note taker, and/or scribe. Students should contact the disability coordinator for an appointment to set up accommodations and services. Documentation of a disability should be provided as soon as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I receive disability services at college?
You need to contact the Disability Services office on campus to start the application process.
2. When do I need to apply for Disability Services?
It is a good idea to start the application process at the Disability Services office as soon as you have been admitted into college so that any accommodations you may need can be arranged.
3. Can I use my 504 Plan or IEP for documentation of my disability?
If your 504 Plan or IEP contains the necessary information, they will be accepted as documentation. (See Guidelines for Disability Documentation.)
4. Will I receive the same services that I received in high school?
Maybe. High school Special Education programs are required by law to provide whatever service, help, or accommodation you needed to be successful. Colleges are required by law to provide "equal access to education" through programs, activities, and facilities. They provide access by using accommodations -- not necessarily services or extra help. Access is provided through reasonable accommodations.
For example, services such as word banks or reduced assignments probably won't be provided because postsecondary schools don't provide modifications that would change the educational standards of coursework.
5. Can I receive a failing grade for a college class in which I am receiving accommodations?
Yes. Accommodations ensure "access" not necessarily "success."
6. I have a disability. Will I be eligible to use accommodations in college?
Maybe. The decision to provide accommodations is based on the activity and whether the disability creates any barriers to participate. For example, a student who is paralyzed from the waist down has a disability and needs a physically accessible environment. However, this same student would not be eligible to use note taking services nor would he/she be provided with books on tape because the disability does not interfere with reading or writing.
7. Will my 504 plan follow me to college?
No. The 504 Plan developed by your high school will not follow you to college, but the rights and protections under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 apply. Section 504 is civil rights legislation and provides two things: 1) nondiscrimination on the basis of disability and 2) an equal opportunity to participate. The concept of "maximizing success" is found only under IDEA
for elementary and secondary schools.
8. Who decides what accommodations I can use in college?
The Disability Services office at the college in which you are enrolled makes the final decision after reviewing your disability documentation and talking with you. Accommodations will be based on how the disability interferes with access to the educational environment and the course curriculum.
9. Do I have to pay for my accommodations?
No. It is the college's responsibility to provide reasonable accommodations to eligible students with disabilities at no cost to the student.
10. Do colleges and universities provide testing to identify a learning disability?
Colleges and universities are not required to provide testing services. Referrals will be made to appropriate professionals.
11. Is financial assistance available through the disability services office for students with
No. Check with the financial aid office at the school you will be attending. Some agencies that may provide support are Vocational Rehabilitation, Workers Compensation, the Veterans Administration, and Job Service.
12. Will the Disability Services office provide services like helping me get ready for the
school day or pushing my wheelchair?
No. Services or equipment needed to assist a person with activities of daily living are the responsibility of the individual, not the college. For example, helping a person get dressed or
reminding a person to take medication are personal services that an individual needs in order to function on a daily basis, whether or not the individual is in college. If the service or equipment is needed solely for the purpose of participating in a college program or activity, it is the college's responsibility to provide it. For example, the college would provide a writer or scribe for essay tests if the student's disability prevented him/her from writing. However, the college is not obligated to provide a writer so that same student could do homework or write personal letters.
Documentation of a Disability
North Dakota Colleges & Universities Disability Services Council
Documentation should indicate how the disability substantially limits the student in a major life activity. The information submitted is used to determine appropriate and reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities in the North Dakota University System.
Documentation provided by the student should include the following:
A diagnostic statement identifying the disability, date of the current diagnostic evaluation and the date of the original diagnosis
A description of diagnostic criteria:
LD documentation must include test scores and interpretation of aptitude, achievement, and, when possible, information processing. (See AHEAD Guidelines for Documentation, July 1997, Appendix B
- A description of how the disability currently affects the student in the learning environment, e.g. functional limitations
- Treatment, medications, assistive devices/services currently prescribed/used
- A description of the expected progression or stability of the impact of the disability over time
- The relevant credentials such as medical specialty and professional licensure of the diagnosing professional(s).
Guidelines for Documentation of a Learning Disability in Adolescents and Adults (July 1997)
AHEAD (Association for Higher Education and Disabilities)
Tests for Assessing Adolescents and Adults
When selecting a battery of tests, it is critical to consider the technical adequacy of instruments including their reliability, validity, and standardization on an appropriate norm group. The professional judgment of an evaluator in choosing tests is important. The following list is provided as a helpful resource, but it is NOT intended to be definitive or exhaustive.*
- Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale--Revised (WAIS-R)
- Woodcock - Johnson Psychoeducational Battery--Revised: Tests of Cognitive Ability
- Kaufman Adolescent and Adult Intelligence Test
- Stanford--Binet Intelligence Scale (4th Ed)
The Slosson Intelligence Test -- Revised and the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test are primarily
screening devices which are not comprehensive enough to provide the kinds of information
necessary to make accommodation decisions.
- Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults (SATA)
- Stanford Test of Academic Skills
- Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery--Revised: Tests of Achievement
- Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT)
Or specific achievement tests such as:
- Nelson--Denny Reading Skills Test
- Stanford Diagnostic Mathematics Test
- Test of Written Language -- 3 (TOWL-3)
- Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests -- Revised
Specific achievement tests are useful instruments when administered under standardized conditions and interpreted within the context of other diagnostic information. The Wide Range Achievement Test-3 (WRAT-3) is not a comprehensive measure of achievement and therefore is not useful if used as the sole measure of achievement.
Acceptable instruments include the Detroit Test of Learning Aptitude-- 3 (DTLA-3), the Detroit Tests of Learning Aptitude--- Adult (DTLA-A), information from sub-tests on WAIS-R, Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery-Revised: Tests of Cognitive Ability, as well as other relevant instruments.
*The North Dakota Colleges and Universities Disability Services Council recognizes and accepts future revisions of these assessments.
Laws & Rights
Important pieces of legislation related to the provision of academic accommodations, adjustments, and services for students with disabilities at the university setting include:
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 1973 states:
No otherwise qualified person with a disability in the United States…shall, solely on the basis of a disability, be denied access to, or the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity provided by any institution receiving federal financial assistance. For a more detailed description of Subpart E of the Rehabilitation Act, 1973, refer to the U.S. Department of Education’s website.
The ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008 clarified the definition of “disability” for purposes of the ADA. A person is considered to have a disability if the person:
- Has a physical or mental impairment, which substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities include, but are not limited to self-care, manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working.
- Has a record of a substantially limiting condition.
- Is regarded as substantially limited.
For a more detailed description of Title II of the ADAAA, refer to the following U.S. Department of Education’s website.
With the passage of the ADA in 1990, Section 504 from the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was expanded to include any public or private institution. Subpart E of the Rehabilitation Act requires an institution to be prepared to make reasonable academic adjustments and accommodations to allow students with disabilities full participation in the same programs and activities available to students without disabilities. The ADAAA further clarifies and reinforces these statutes. With relation to a university setting, a qualified person with a disability is one who meets the academic and technical standards required for admission or participation in the institution’s educational programs or activities.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. For students with disabilities who attend a post-secondary institution, FERPA ensures the confidentiality of the student’s documentation and limits access to appropriate University personnel.