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  • College accommodations can help students with disabilities thrive.
  • Contact your school’s disability services office to apply. You’ll likely need to submit documentation of how your disability impacts your learning.
  • Accommodations can be available during class and while testing.

Classroom and testing accommodations can help students with physical and learning disabilities thrive in college. If you have a diagnosed physical or learning disability, your high school is legally obligated to provide equal access to all programs, services, and activities. But an individualized education plan (IEP) from high school won’t carry over into college. That means you’ll have to go through your college’s accommodations process to get the support you need. Let’s unpack what that typically looks like.

How to request classroom and testing accommodations

Every college has its own process for granting accommodations. Remember, schools get requests like this all the time—and it’s their responsibility to accommodate students who learn in all kinds of ways. Begin by contacting your campus’s disability services office, which is there to ensure that students with disabilities have equal educational access. Most schools will require you to submit:

  • An application for accommodations.
  • Documentation from a health care provider, psychologist, or other qualified professional that confirms your disability and how it impacts your learning. Your school will have a list of the documentation that is needed. 
  • Your high school IEP can be helpful to include as well.

If you don’t already have a diagnosis, you may need to seek an outside evaluation. According to the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA), this can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,500. Schools that have onsite clinics for graduate student training programs might offer these evaluations for less, but it can still be a big expense. If your college budget is tight, check to see if your health insurance will cover any part of it. Connecting with a local LDA chapter might provide additional support.

Questions to ask your school about college accommodations 

Your school’s disability services office should meet with you, either in person or virtually, during the application process. You can include your parents in the conversation if you’d like their support. Your school may also provide a release form that allows your parents to communicate with them on your behalf. Either way, asking the following questions can be helpful:

  • What kinds of accommodations might be available to me?
  • What are the next steps for me to get accommodations?
  • Are there any deadlines I need to know about?
  • How will you communicate with me about my application status?
  • Is it possible to appeal the decision if my application is denied?

Different types of classroom and testing accommodations

College accommodations are meant to close the learning gap caused by a disability. Every student is different, and learning accommodations are evaluated on an individual basis. Here are some supports that might be available to you:

  • Housing accommodations
  • Assistive technology for reading and writing
  • Voice recognition software
  • Screen magnifiers
  • Access to class materials in different formats
  • Extended time on tests
  • Breaks as needed
  • Testing in a separate room with fewer distractions
  • Preferred seating

What to do once you’re approved for college accommodations

Even if your school notifies your teachers about your accommodations, it’s best to follow up with them one-on-one to make them aware. You should receive a letter from your school confirming your status and your eligibility for accommodations. Sharing this with your professors can help them best support you. It’s also an opportunity to practice advocating for yourself. It’s ultimately up to you to make sure your accommodations are being met. If a professor challenges you, contact your disability services office to figure out how to handle it. 

Another benefit of getting accommodations is that they can help you understand how you learn best. These skills can carry over into your working life after graduation. Consider each accommodation another resource in your toolbox.

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