Disability Services Helpful Tips

Comparison of Disability in High School and College
High School College
Under the law (IDEA), all children (including children with disabilities) are entitled to a “Free and Appropriate Public Education.”(IDEA is about education) Under the law (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act), students have equal access to education – no one is entitled to anything; students have civil rights and they must advocate for themselves in order to utilize those rights. 
(Section 504 is about civil rights)
Section 504 in the public schools includes “Free and Appropriate Public Education” language, and accommodations may include modifications or changes in the curriculum, assignments or tests. Section 504 is the first civil rights legislation that applied to colleges. It upholds the institution’s right to maintain the academic standards, and no accommodations may be permitted to reduce that standard for any student. In other words, the integrity of any program will not be compromised by changes or modifications for any student.
Plans, either the IEP or a 504 Plan, drive all services and accommodations, involve school staff and require a parent’s signature. There is no plan, and instructors are not contacted, except by the student. In fact, parents may not even receive a student’s grades without the student giving written permission.
All students qualify for public education simply by being the appropriate age “Otherwise qualified,” in college, means that the student must meet all entrance and academic requirements, whether they receive accommodations or not.
Staff members involved with the student know about his/her placement, know about a student even before he or she enters the classroom, and have a good idea of that student’s needs.  DSS never contacts an instructor without permission from the student. Thus, the student must initiate all actions regarding accommodations with each instructor for each course every semester. Students also have the right to refuse accommodations and if they do not request accommodations, it’s assumed they do not need or want them. 
Public schools, for the most part, are responsible for appropriate assessment of a student’s disability, primarily to determine if that student qualifies for special education. Higher education is not required to assess the student but may request that the student provide information about their disability and accommodation needs. This may include third-party documentation. 
Some subjects may have been waived for a student before graduation, if they were specifically related to the student’s disability, and was indicated in the IEP. Substitutions for specific graduation requirements may be requested by following a rigorous petition process, but “waivers” for requirements are never granted. Substitutions are also granted typically after the student has both provided adequate verification to DSS of their disability and unsuccessfully attempted the courses in question with the appropriate accommodations as recommended by DSS. 
Labels (or the type of disability/diagnosis) are a way to categorize people and are needed to verify the student for special education services. Student has a right to disclose when and to whom they choose, but must own their disability in order to receive accommodations and enjoy a level playing field.  There is no special education, only accommodations.
Assessment, physical or other therapy, or personal care may be provided by the school while the student is in school. Student is responsible for personal services – personal care, medical and related requirements, just as if they would if they were living independently and not attending school.
Students often receive “Un-timed tests” if they have a disability. “Un-timed tests” are not reasonable, but time extensions may be reasonable, typically time-and-a-half or double time.
Teachers may be expected to learn all they can about the disability of a student in one of their classes. Instructors need know only that which applies to the accommodations the student is eligible for.
“Placement” is determined by the child’s “team” and outlined in the plan and must, by law, occur in the least restrictive environment. Placement integration is assumed, and is the order of the day. We adjust the environment through accommodations, but we don’t deliberate and select the environment for the student in advance. 
  • MDT = Multidisciplinary Team Evaluation
  • DSS = Disability Services for Students
  • IEP = Individual Education Plan


Issue IDEA (High School) ADA (College)
Identification School Student
Assessment School Student
Making Requests School/Parent Student
Advocacy School/Parent Student
Decision Making School/Parent Student
Transition Plan School Student
Accommodations School College
Complaint Procedures for Disability Services

Right of Appeal Procedure for Student Accommodations

In order to directly address complaints specific to disability-related accommodations, the Disability Services Office has adopted an internal right of appeal procedure. This procedure allows for equitable resolution within a reasonable time of complaints by students with disabilities who allege violation of their rights under the ADAAA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

If the student believes the accommodations provided are not reasonable, the procedure below should be followed. The goal of the Disability Services Office staff is to accomplish each step as quickly as possible.

  • The student needs to schedule a meeting with the disability services staff who evaluated the original accommodation request and discuss the matter. If an accommodation is related to a specific course, the student’s faculty member may be asked to attend the meeting. The outcomes of the meeting will be made and presented to the student in written format within five working days of the meeting by the disability services staff.


All reports of discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation should be made online or directly to the ADA/504 coordinator:

Christopher Waddle, JD
Vice President of Human Resources
3134 W. Hwy 34
Grand Island, NE 68802-4903


Columbus Campus

CoLynn Paprocki

Grand Island Campus

Kim Ottman

Hastings Campus

Shannon Peterson