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My child has ADHD and a formal 504 plan. The plan states that she is allowed extra time on testing and the use of a calculator for math class. The college that she is about to attend has refused to allow a calculator in class and for testing. Is this legal?

Many people assume that if they or their child have been recognized as having a disability and had IEP or Section 504 services in high school that they are automatically entitled to the same services in college. This is not correct. Students in college must 1) inform the college that they have a disability and require reasonable accommodations and 2) provide clinical support for the existence of the disability and the need for accommodations.

That the student was recognized as having a disability and received accommodations in high school is useful documentation for the college to consider but does not require the college to agree. On the other hand, when there are no prior services, it’s even harder to obtain accommodations. Colleges may also require that the student provide current clinical testing to show that the disability is still present and evidence of substantial limits to at least one major life activity, related to the activity for which accommodation is sought.

If the student presents all this information and the college refuses, the student has various appeal rights under both the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The student should be able to obtain information about the school’s non-discrimination policy in relation to disability from the school’s disability services office or from the college handbook. Useful information on the right to college accommodations can also be found from the Association on Higher Education and Disability(opens in a new window) and the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights(opens in a new window).

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