What Constitutes a Disability?
A disability is defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities. Learning is considered a major life activity. If you have a mental or physical condition, a history of such a condition, or a condition considered to be substantially limiting, you may have a legally defined disability.
How does the law change from High School to College for individuals with disabilities?
In public schools K-12, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) governs special education services, and can involve testing, diagnosis, educational planning, remediation, and implementation of special programs. At the college level, IDEA no longer applies and special education services or funding for students no longer exists. The law is transitioned to the ADA/Section 504, and becomes more of a civil rights concern, protecting the student from discrimination by providing reasonable accommodations as well as ensuring access to all educational programs and services for those with a qualified disability.
I received services in High School and understand that they will continue in College. Is this true?
Not necessarily, because as the law changes, so do the services. It’s important to note that each post-secondary institution sets the perimeters by which they determine eligibility for disability services in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA.
What kind of documentation do I need?
You will need current documentation that verifies the disability and details the functional limitations that impact academic performance and accessibility. Please refer to our Documentation Guidelines on the right for more information.
I have dyslexia and got help in high school, will I automatically qualify for help in college?
Although you may have a diagnosis of dyslexia, that does not mean you will automatically be eligible for accommodations in college. High school support services from a 504 may not automatically carry over to college. Specific and current testing is required to determine appropriate and reasonable accommodations. The severity and how it impacts learning will determine eligibility and the type of accommodations. See our Learning Disability Guidelines for more information.
Will I have to get new documentation or testing when I go to College?
If you are coming directly from high school where you received Special Education Services, then you may be able to provide a report commonly referred to as the Full Individual Evaluation (FIE) or Comprehensive Individual Assessment (CIA). It’s important to note that the ACCESS Office does not accept IEP’s (Individual Education Plans) or ARD (Admission, Review, Dismissal) papers as viable disability documentation. For other areas of disability, documentation can include a current letter and/or checklist completed by a health professional or specialist. We encourage you to print and share the appropriate Documentation Guidelines with your health professional in order to obtain the correct documentation.
If my documentation is too old or not in compliance with your guidelines, what do I do?
Documentation for disabilities that are physical or mental in nature that can be verified by a Health Professional should be updated and in compliance with ACCESS Disability Guidelines. Learning Disabilities and related Cognitive disabilities require updated diagnostic testing. Collin College does not provide testing, thus it is the responsibility of the student to obtain additional information or testing if it is required to determine eligibility for accommodations. The cost of providing documentation is the responsibility of the student.
How does college differ from high school disability services? In College…
- The student must seek out disability services and request them each semester.
- Modifications (changes) are not provided, only reasonable accommodations (adjustments). The goal is to provide equal access.
- Services are optional and not mandatory.
- No accommodations are provided without self-disclosure and supportive documentation.
- Parents have limited involvement, and only at the written consent of the student.
How do I receive services as a dual credit student and does Collin implement services?
Taking a dual credit course means taking a college course, therefore, the student must comply with the college’s disability guidelines. In most instances, if the class is taken at a high school campus, the high school will implement the accommodations that are approved by Collin College. However, if the course is at a Collin College campus, then the college will provide the accommodations. We recommend that you apply for services with ACCESS as soon as you know you will be signing up for dual credit classes (at least one month before the semester starts).
Will my 504 Accommodation Plan in High School be adequate documentation?
Generally, students under a 504 plan in high school receive services based on the history of a disability and diagnostic testing may not have been completed within the past three years, as Collin requires. In this case, updated and comprehensive testing will be needed. If services have been provided for because of an Other Health Impairment (OHI), current documentation from a health professional may suffice.
I am afraid that my transcript and other college records will disclose my disability, or that I worked with ACCESS…is this true?
No, in compliance with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) laws, strict confidentiality is respected and maintained. Those involved in the educational process, including instructors, do not have access to any information pertaining to your disability other than the specific accommodations that are provided. Furthermore no record or reference to the nature of the disability or involvement with the ACCESS Office is disclosed on transcripts or college records. Your affiliation with the ACCESS Office and the nature of your disability is not disclosed unless you choose to share that information.
What is FERPA?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) 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. Students to whom the rights have transferred are "eligible students." Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student's education record. For additional information, follow the link (www.ed.gov/ferpa) or you may call 1-800-USA-LEARN (1-800-872-5327)
Do I have to go through ACCESS to attend Collin College?
No, utilizing disability services in college is completely voluntary, but highly encouraged if you have a documented disability to ensure the maximum support in achieving college success.
Can I receive accommodations without disclosing my disability?
Unfortunately, you cannot. It is necessary to disclose your disability to ACCESS to qualify for any accommodations. Professors are not obligated to provide any accommodations for you without having first come through ACCESS for approval.
Do you have ACCESS services at all campuses?
We have full-time advisors at our three main locations – Spring Creek Campus in Plano, Central Park Campus in McKinney, and Preston Ridge Campus in Frisco. Please refer our Office Locations and/or ACCESS Staff links on the right.
Do you provide accommodations at the Collin Higher Education Center (CHEC)?
If you attend classes at the CHEC center, the classes and support services are provided through the host university. Please contact their disability office for eligibility information.
Do you provide transportation?
No, independent services may be available, but all transportation costs are at the expense of the student.
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) does stop at the Spring Creek Campus, DART FLEX Service may also be available. We encourage you to contact DART Customer Service at 214-979-1111 for complete information.
TAPS Public Transit operates on-demand curb-to-curb public transportation for Collin County Rural Areas and for the City of McKinney. We encourage you to contact TAPS Customer Service at 800-256-0911 for complete information.
When is the best time to contact ACCESS?
After you have been admitted to the college and received your College Wide ID, please contact the appropriate office to schedule an appointment. For further information please see our ACCESS Admission Process on the right.
Can my parents handle all this for me?
No, it is your responsibility as the student, and it is expected that the student handle everything pertaining to his or her college education. However, it is not uncommon for parents to play a part in getting started at College, and with your written consent, they are allowed limited involvement.
Can I apply for services anytime throughout the year?
Yes! However, please keep in mind that if you are approved for accommodations, they are not retroactive and cannot apply to any coursework prior to the date which the accommodation letter was given to the instructor.
I still have questions, who should I contact?
Please feel free to contact our ACCESS office for any questions you may have at 972-881-5898 or refer our Office Locations and/or ACCESS Staff links on the right. We look forward to hearing from you!