Understanding the differences between being a student who receives services under special programs in high school and being a college student with a disability requires an understanding of the federal laws that govern each institution.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1973 protects children from infancy to the age of 21. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 covers post-secondary students. Simply put, IDEA provides equal entitlement, and ADA provides equal access. Please refer to the chart below to compare the two laws.
|Intent of Law||
||Ensures that no otherwise qualified person with a disability is denied access to, benefits of, or is subject to discrimination solely on the basis of disability|
|Who Is Covered||Infants up to 21 years or upon graduation from high school||All otherwise qualified* individuals who, with or without reasonable accommodations, meet the college’s standard admissions requirements and the demands of the standard academic curriculum|
|Definition of Disability||There are 13 disability classifications defined||(No listing of classifications of disabilities.) A person is defined as having a disability
|Responsible for Identifying and Documenting Need||School districts are responsible for:
||Students are responsible for:
|Advocacy||The parent or guardian is the primary advocate.At age 14, students are invited to participate in the development of their Individual Education Plan (IEP).||Students must advocate for themselves.The Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) guarantees student confidentiality. Conversations with parents regarding confidential information without the student’s written consent is illegal.|
*Qualified individual with a disability is an individual with a disability who satisfies the requisite skill, experience... and who, with or without, reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions.
**Major life functions mean activities such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.