Making the Transition: Tips for Parents of Students with Disabilities

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Denise Johnson Marshall
Assistant Dean/Director, Disability Services

Georgia Tech assists students with disabilities by providing programs designed to coordinate academic accommodations and promote access to all phases of campus life. Such programming is coordinated through the ADAPTS (Access Disabled Assistance Program for Tech Students) -Disability Services Program

As part of the Office of the Dean of Students, ADAPTS-Disability Services personnel oversee and coordinate programs to ensure accessibility to students with disabilities on an individual basis. Georgia Tech strives to provide equal access to a college education as well as support to students with disabilities in their experience in the campus community.

Students and parents new to Georgia Tech will notice differences in the provision of services to students with disabilities from the secondary high school to the post-secondary school or college environment. An example of the differences can be found in the laws that guide the provision of services for student with disabilities. Most parents will be familiar with the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In high schools under IDEA, for example, special education program procedures may apply primarily to learning disabilities. High school students who use wheelchairs, may fall under a subpart of Section 504. IEP's (Individual Education Plans) are developed for these students simply because that is the procedure required under the IDEA mandated program.

The misunderstanding comes from assuming that the "504 Plan" or the IEP developed at a high school will be binding at a college or university. In fact, the responsibilities differ between high school and college. Understanding these differences upfront is critical for a successful transition into college.

High School Responsibilities:
* Identify students with disabilities
* Provide assessment of learning disabilities
* Classify disabilities according to specified diagnostic categories
* Involve parents or guardians in placement decisions
* Provide certain non-academic services
* Place student in programs where they can benefit (in any way) by placement committee with parent participation and approval
* Structure a large part of the student's weekly schedule
* Modify educational programs
* Prepare IEP's
* Provide a free and appropriate education
* Provide appropriate services by the school nurse or health services

College Responsibilities:
* 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
* Accept and evaluate verifying documentation
* Determine that a mental or physical impairment causes a substantial limitation of a major life activity based on student-provided verifying documents
* Determine whether a student is otherwise qualified for participation in the program or service, with or without accommodations, and if so, whether a reasonable accommodation is possible
* Make reasonable accommodations for students who meet the above qualifying criteria
* Provide reasonable access to program and service choices equal to those available to the general public
* Inform students of their rights and responsibilities

Colleges are NOT required to:
* Reduce or adjust the essential requirements of a course or program
* Conduct testing and assessment of learning disabilities
* Provide personal attendants
* Provide personal or private tutors
* Prepare IEP's

We want parents and students to be as prepared as possible for this exciting transition to Georgia Tech. To obtain services through the ADAPTS-Disability Services Program at Georgia Tech, students must be accepted through the Office of Admissions via regular procedures and complete an application for ADAPTS eligibility which includes providing the required documentation. For more information about ADAPTS and how we can help, please visit us at or call (V) 404-894-2563; (TDD) 404-894-1664; (FAX) 404-894-9928.


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