Skip To Main Content

A Guide for Students with Disabilities as They Transition from High School to College

There are many differences between disability services offerings at the high school and college levels. All too often freshman with disabilities struggle to make a successful transition to college because they do not realize these many differences. Federal laws that require high schools to assess students and develop Individualized Educational Plans (IEP) do not apply to colleges. This means that a student with an IEP or 504 plan from high school may not be eligible for disability services at the college level. Instead, colleges are required to provide reasonable accommodations to persons whose disability substantially impacts a major life activity. The law has defined learning as a major life activity.  The college has the right to approve or deny accommodations requested by the student which are not reasonable, will fundamentally alter the nature of the course, or which constitute an undue hardship to the college.


In order to be eligible for accommodations, students must provide the disability services representative from their college of enrollment with documentation from an appropriate health care professional. To be eligible, students must submit Forms 101 and 102 to their disability services representative preferably before the start of Fall semester. Form 101 discusses what accommodations have been used in the past and what accommodations are being requested at Ohio Northern University. Form 102 indicates what documentation is required from an appropriate health care professional for accommodations to be considered at the college level. Dependent upon the circumstances, the college may request that the student undergo additional testing at his/her expense.


Post-secondary institutions have a responsibility to:

  • Protect a student’s right to privacy and confidentiality
  • Provide access to programs and services which are offered to persons without disabilities
  • Inform students of office location and procedures for requesting accommodations
  • Evaluate verifying documentation provided by the student
  • Determine whether a mental or physical impairment substantially limits a major life activity based upon the student-provided documentation
  • Make reasonable accommodations for students who meet the qualifying criteria
  • Provide reasonable access to programs and services equal to those available to the general public
  • Inform students of their responsibilities

Post-Secondary institutions are not required to:

  • Reduce or waive any of the essential requirements of a course or program
  • Conduct testing and assessment of learning, psychological or medical disabilities
  • Provide personal attendants
  • Provide personal or private tutors

At the post-secondary level students have a responsibility to:

  • Timely disclose disability status in the event that an academic adjustment, assignment to accessible facilities or other accommodation is needed on that basis
  • Provide verifying documentation as outlined in Form 102
  • Arrange their own schedules
  • Arrange for and access personal care attendants and private tutors

Each college maintains a process whereby they meet with qualifying students prior to each term and a letter is completed and sent to all instructors for the student’s courses that term, detailing what accommodations are to be provided, should the student request them in advance.

Pursuing Eligibility for Services

Disability services at Ohio Northern University are handled individually by each of the academic colleges. We recommend that students desiring services contact the appropriate representative for their college of enrollment as soon as they know they will be attending Ohio Northern University. We will review each student’s documentation and in consultation with the student and appropriate others will determine what, if any, accommodation. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.

Student Disability Coordinator:

Tracey Harris
(419) 772-1055