• College / SAT & ACT / Postsecondary / Vocational

    Children with disabilities have several options available to continue their education in postsecondary schools and programs, including vocational schools, job training programs, transition programs, colleges and universities. However, the often extensive special education services provided in high school are not required in many postsecondary programs. It is therefore important for students to be well informed about their rights and learn to advocate for their needs.

    The Complex Care Center at Cincinnati Children's provides information and resources to help families learn about their rights in postsecondary programs.
  • Students with disabilities who are covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) can receive services until they reach age 22. When students have the required high school credits, school districts may let the student "walk through" or "socially" graduate with their class but defer receiving their diploma until they complete transition classes, job training programs or vocational school. This is up to the individual school district and local policies my vary. This should be discussed and included as part of the IEP transition plan. The advantage to the student is the continued support for a free appropriate public education, special education and related services. These protections will not be provided after graduation.

    Also, in Kentucky, in the certificate programs, typically students are told they can stay until they are 21 years old.  In Ohio you get a HS diploma, in KY you get a certificate of completion that is NOT equivalent to a HS diploma.

    Students with disabilities who are covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) must receive a Summary of Performance document to assist with transitioning from high school to postsecondary programs and activities.  It is required when a student:

    • Graduates from high school with a regular high school diploma
    • Reaches the age of 22 and leaves the public school

    The Summary of Performance indicates the student's academic achievement, functional skills and recommendations on how to reach postsecondary goals. It is completed during the last year the student is in high school and provides guidance so the student knows what accommodations and supports might be helpful in postsecondary settings.

    Work with your school counselor to request accommodations such as extended time or small group testing for the ACT or SAT.

    • Princeton Review has suggestions for requesting accommodations.
    • ACT services for students with disabilities.
    • SAT services for students with disabilities.

    Many school districts provide their own transition and work study classes and programs for students on an IEP. Students practice skills for independent living while a work / study coordinator arranges for job experiences. Students can either continue to earn credits towards graduation through some of these programs or defer graduation and receive a diploma when the programs are completed. Some options are located outside of the public school:

    When a student with a disability graduates from high school and enters a postsecondary school, such as a college or university, they are no longer covered by an IEP. Students lose the guarantee of a free appropriate public education. Eligible students are covered Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which prohibit discrimination on the basis of a disability. An individual with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning or working. Almost every postsecondary school is subject to one or both of these laws. They must insure that their educational programs, extracurricular activities, buildings and housing are accesible to students with disabilities. However, unlike high school, postsecondary schools are only required to provide reasonable academic adjustments including accommodations and modifications.

    Accommodations are approved on the basis of the student's disability and individual needs. Examples can include priority registration, reduced course load, note takers, recording devices, sign language interpreters, extended time for testing, modified teaching methods or adaptive software or hardware for school computers. The school is not required to lower the essential requirements of a class. For example, although the school may be required to provide extended testing time, it is not required to change the content of the test. In addition, the postsecondary school does not have to provide personal attendants, readers for personal use or study, or other devices or services of a personal nature, such as tutoring and typing.

    Unlike the public school district, the postsecondary school is not required to identify students with disabilities and evaluate their needs. Students must inform the school that they have a disability and need assistance. Schools usually require documentation prepared by an appropriate professional, such as a physician or psychologist. The IEP or 504 Plan from high school may help identify services that have been helpful, but it is not considered to be sufficient documentation.

    Almost every postsecondary school has a Disability Services Coordinator, Section 504 or ADA Coordinator. Students can contact this person with their concerns. The school must also have grievance procedures that provide for the prompt resolution of complaints. If the student is not satisfied, a complaint can be filed with the U.S. Office for Civil Rights.

    • Affordable Colleges for Students with Disabilities provides information on loans, grants and scholarships specifically for disabled students, as well as resources to help with the job search after graduation. 
    • Association of Higher Education & Disability (AHEAD) provides information and resources for students with disabilities attending college.
    • Colleges with Programs for Learning Disabled Students provides information on resources and supports in higher education.
    • College of Mt. Saint Joseph Project EXCEL is a comprehensive academic support system for students with specific learning disabilities.
    • Columbus State Community College offers a Community/Habilitation Assistant Certificate Program for students who have a developmental disability. Course work is adapted to a fifth grade reading level. The curriculum provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to work as an assistant in the MR/DD field.
    • DePaul University Chronic Illness Initiative provides access to higher education for students, age 24 or older, who are disabled by a chronic illness. Services are provided to students who struggle with illnesses that unpredictably increase and decrease in severity such as asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or illnesses with frequent hospitalizations such as cancer or heart disease. Students with learning disabilities may be eligible for the PLUS program.   
    • Heath Resource Center is a national clearinghouse on postsecondary education for individuals with disabilities.
    • Indiana Commission for Higher Education provides information on the state's education programs, colleges and universities, financial aid assistance programs, grants, scholarships, continuing education programs, and career opportunities.
    • Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority provides information on the state's education programs, colleges and universities, financial aid assistance programs, grants, scholarships, continuing education programs, and career opportunities.
    • Mental Health Resources for College Students, located at OnlineColleges.net, offers information and resources covering common issues facing students, from depression and anxiety to substance abuse and eating disorders.  
    • National Center for Learning Disabilities has information and resources on transitioning to college and work. 
    • Schwab Learning provides information and resources on colleges and universities for students with learning disabilities and ADHD.
    • Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities has information about college options for students with disabilities. 
    • ThinkCollege.net has information on college programs for students with developmental disabilities.
    • University of Cincinnati Transition and Access Program (TAP) is a four-year, inclusive program for eligible students with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. The Intellectual Advancement Center along with the special education program in the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services, will oversee the program. This non-degree program option will allow for students to actively engage in the college experience, participating in classes, professional internships and social activities. TAP will provide the opportunity for students to achieve success in a postsecondary experience on a traditional college campus with appropriate supports. Students who complete the program will receive a certificate, and have training and experiences necessary for successful, competitive, employment.
    • University of Washington Do-It program provides information and resources for students with disabilities. 

    Almost every postsecondary school has a Disability Services Coordinator, Section 504 or ADA Coordinator. Students can contact this person with their concerns. The school must also have grievance procedures that provide for the prompt resolution of complaints. If the student is not satisfied, a complaint can be filed with the U.S. Office for Civil Rights.

    • NICHCY has a detailed section on transition and the IEP.
    • Transition provides additional information and resources on the passage from child-centered activities to adult-oriented activities.
    • PACER Center provides information on ADA and Section 504 and postsecondary education.
    • U.S. Office for Civil Rights has information for students with disabilities preparing for postsecondary education.
    • Wrightslaw provides resources to help college students with disabilities.
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