Getting Started: Prospective Students and Families
The staff of Disability Resources (DR) welcomes you to Samford University. The purpose of DR is to facilitate reasonable and appropriate academic accommodations to applicants and college students with disabilities. Registering with DR is a separate process from applying for admission to the university.
The Admission office handles all applications for undergraduate admission to Samford University. Admission standards are described in the Catalog and must be met by all students, regardless of disability. Applications for admission are available from the Admission Office.
Graduate admissions are processed by each graduate course of study.
Students with disabilities should send their documentation to DR instead of the Admission office. Documentation sent to other offices on campus does not guarantee that the DR office will receive it.
Differences Between High School and College+
An important issue for potential and current college students with disabilities is to understand the differences between the application of disability rights laws in secondary and post-secondary institutions. The most basic distinction between services for students with disabilities in high school and college is secondary settings are geared towards least restrictive settings whereas post-secondary institutions are obligated to provide access. In other words more responsibility is placed on student initiative in higher education.
A student’s responsibilities dramatically increase as they move from secondary to postsecondary education. The chart below illustrates differences between secondary and post-secondary obligations of students with accommodation requests.
Comparison of Responsibilities in High School under P.L. 94-142/IDEA/504 and in College under Section 504 and ADA
Services provided under IDEA or Section 504
Services provided under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and The Americans with Disabilities Act
School district responsible for identifying and evaluating disability at no cost to student or family
Student must self identify and provide documentation of disability
Special education teacher liaison and buffer between student, other teachers, administrators, and parents
Student responsible for self-advocacy
The decision to receive accommodations is made by educators and parents. Students have little or no choice
Student can choose not to seek services and accommodations and can choose to function independently
- Student must self identify disability and request services from college
- Student required to provide recent documentation (less than three years old) of disability
- Documentation must clearly support requested accommodations
Help readily available
Student must independently seek help using effective communication skills
- Services must be requested well in advance (i.e., you cannot wait until day of test to ask for accommodations)
Student labeled as special education student
Student not labeled or served separately from other students
Student possibly served separately from other students
Other students and faculty will not know about student’s disability
- Faculty only notified of required accommodations
Personnel talk freely with parent about student progress and planning
Personnel cannot discuss student without student’s written permission
Guidelines for Parents+
One of the many changes you will notice as your student goes to college is your changing role in assisting with their disability. The Family Education Right to Privacy Act (FERPA) states that all rights regarding information and confidentiality revert to the student when they reach the age of eighteen. Institutions of higher education are therefore limited in what they can discuss with parents without a release signed by the student.
One of the benefits of this situation is that it encourages students to begin to advocate for themselves in the areas affected by their disability. Disability Resources staff will need to work directly with the student to receive documentation, determine appropriate accommodations, and notify professors. The student is thus encouraged to accept responsibility as well as become an active part of their academic decisions.
Often students who have received accommodations in high school feel they would like to make college a fresh start; their chance to begin without the ‘label’ they feel they have carried in the past. It might not be the best time to attempt a new curriculum without the support they have had in the past. It also might be a good time to consider taking advantage of help for which they have been eligible, but have not previously felt a need. Encourage your student to meet with the staff in DR and submit documentation appropriate for post-secondary education. It is much easier to implement accommodations quickly if the documentation is already in place.