Differences in Disability Services from K-12 to College

Attending college for the first time can be exciting, stressful, and unsettling for most students-often more so for those requiring academic accommodations. Students are not only entering a new, larger environment but must also learn to navigate campus services while assuming greater personal responsibility for academic success. Significant differences exist between K-12 and community colleges when it comes to serving students with disabilities. The information below describes what students may expect as they transition to college.

Differences in Disability Services


(IDEA, Section 504)


(ADA, Section 504)

"Search & Serve"---district identifies student(s)

"Self-Disclosure & Request"---student(s) must identify

Established eligibility

Student provides documentation that identifies educational limitations

Develop IEP/ITP

Develop Student Educational Plan (SEP)

Provides support and/or special classes

Provides support services and/or limited special classes

District ensures that the IEP is implemented and goals are met

Student is responsible for own goals and progress

Parents and special education professionals may advocate for student

Student advocates for self; DSPS staff provides guidance and support

Fundamental alteration is allowed to the program of study and instructional methods

Accommodations may NOT alter fundamental nature of credit courses; degree requirements or certificate programs

Student may receive Certificate of Completion instead of diploma

Student may receive approved vocational certificate or AA/AS degree

Personal/attendant services may be provided

Student provides attendant care

Transportation to and from school provided by district

Public transportation: Dial-a-Ride/C.A.T/SMART