Students with disabilities in higher education institutions

Federal Laws on Discrimination in Higher learning institutions

Primarily, there are two federal legislations that offer protection to individuals who are disabled. These federal laws protect individuals from discrimination within learning environments. These legislations include the Americans with Disability Act of 1990 (ADA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The protection for individuals with disabilities was enhanced through the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. The ADA was signed into law in the year 1990 by President George Bush. The law offers protection against discrimination to various individuals with disabilities in colleges and universities within the United States (Russo & Osborne, p 14).

According to the ADA, all individuals should be given an equal chance in life irrespective of their conditions. The ADA is divided into various subsections, which address certain aspects of the Act. In a general sense, ADA condemns any discrimination based on an individual’s disability. Title II of the ADA requires state and local institutions to avoid discrimination based on an individual’s disability.

Therefore, title II covers institutions of higher learning as it prohibits these institutions from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. Title II of the same Act addresses the issue of discrimination in private institutions. Apart from the ADA, there is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires all programs that get federal financial assistance to avoid discrimination based on disability.

This section covers all learning institutions that get direct or indirect federal financial assistance. Therefore, this section applies to virtually all institutions of higher learning. It can be asserted that the ADA and Section 504 are essentially geared towards protecting individuals with disabilities in higher learning institutions against discrimination (Russo & Osborne, p. 15).

The laws on the American higher education are meant to protect students who are disabled against discrimination from the learning institutions. This is because most of the higher learning institutions do not offer the appropriate services to such students that are meant to enhance their education. Instead, they disregard these students, and that the students are unable to get the right facilities. The federal law gives students the right to acquire the right education, just like the normal students in the same institution (Leap, p. 3).

The federation committee does this by identifying the students who have such disabilities. This is achieved by getting such information from a certain institution where the student has been admitted, as well as dealing with any complains arising from the students from the various institutions.

The students who are found with disabilities are briefed on their rights regarding education. They are also given advice in case they face discrimination from the institution. Discrimination in learning institutions takes various forms and can be found in learning facilities, accommodation facilities or other benefit denied by the institution. Therefore, the institution is liable for any suffering of the student that arises from discrimination (Leap, p. 6).

The federal law requires that an institution is supposed to offer the right and the best accommodation facilities to the disabled students. Nonetheless, these students must meet the academic qualifications. This is normally funded by the department of education in the United States.

Accommodation for students with Disabilities

In institutions of higher education, students with different disabilities are required to register with the institution. This enables the institutions to plan on the students that need special attention. The student is supposed to do this in advance so as to make the work easier for the institution.

Once the student has made the request, the office checks and confirms on whether the student qualifies to get assistance or accommodation from the institution. After the confirmation, the respective course tutors or lecturers receive a letter indicating that the student should be given some special attention.

This is done in order to enhance participation of the student in demonstrating his or her learning abilities. It also offers an equal opportunity in learning for all students. Any facility that is provided to disabled students in the institution of higher learning should not give the student a greater advantage than the normal students. In addition, this should not alter any aspect of the course offered within the institution.

Accommodations for students depend on the disability type that the student has, and whether the disability allows the student to get an accommodation in the institution. Also, this is dependent on the severity of the disability (Schwab, Gelfman, and Tirozzi, p.297).

Some of these facilities include classrooms, admission facilities, and preparation tests, which makes these students to qualify for the facilities in the institutions of higher learning. If the concerned course instructor is not able to assist the student, he or she should work closely with the student in a private and confidential manner.

On the other hand, the instructor can consult with the office that offers support services to students with disabilities so as to assist the student comprehensively. Some of the recommended facilities that should be provided to enhance education for disabled students have been discussed below.


In terms of class room accommodation, there are various aspects that need to put into consideration so as to avoid disregarding these students and denying them the right to education. These students should be offered accessible classrooms that are within their reach during classwork. There should also be a demonstration in class to enable the students understand what is taught.

In addition, there should be a longer time for assignments to enable the students finish their assignments effectively. Also, there should a provision of visual aids for students with visual disabilities. Short assignments should be given to ease their work. Lectures that are tape recorded should be provided to enhance learning for the blind students that have a hearing ability. These students should be given assistance on how the assignments should be carried out.

The students should be provided with devices for learning. Such devices include braille for those students who have visual disabilities; and modification of sitting arrangements in a class to ensure that the students can access what is being taught. Braille and large prints should be used during the learning hours.

It is also important to ensure that these students are kept away from distraction and disturbance of any kind during examination time. Also, these students should be provided with microprocessors to ease their learning process. Classroom accommodation can also be obtained through offering alternative course materials such as braille for the blind and digital notes among others. It can also be obtained by hiring specialists in interpretation or other ways of delivering oral information to the disabled student (Huger, p. 10).


During admission of the disabled students, there are several admission issues that should be considered. This will ensure that the student gets the right access to the learning environment. There are various requirements that should be observed in order to eliminate discrimination during admission to any college or university.

The students should be admitted to undertake any course in the institution as long as he or she qualifies for the same or meets the requirements of that course. For any course, students should be given standard entrance tests that are usually given to other student applying at the same university. For instance, a test meant for normal students can be given to a blind student provided that the blind student has the right facilities for the test.

The procedure used during regular admission should be similar for all students. However, each institution is supposed to come with its own means according to the law. In addition, the student is supposed to take an exam that is meant for a certain disability. There are other aspects that are necessary.

These include interviews, which are also carried out involving the assessment of certain knowledge. It is also important to enhance communication between parents. In addition, schools and teachers should be provided. Guidance and counseling programs should also be offered on admission. Finally, the student should also be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities within the institutions.

Preparation tests such as TOEFL and GRE and GMAT

Students with disabilities should have a preparation test that allows them to be admitted in a given institution. There are various requirements under the preparation test to enable the student qualify for admission and benefit from the institution. Before admission, the students should take standardized tests such as the TOEFL. Students must obtain English language verification from their respective teachers, which should be in written form.

The student is also supposed to submit scores of an English assessment test from an internationally acceptable test like TOLFL. In addition, the student should take a test that involves computer-based English, which tests the real life measures for the student’s language ability (Koenig, p. 82).


Any student with a disability is supposed to get the appropriate housing within an institution. For the student to benefit from the institution in terms of housing for accommodation, there are various concerns that should be addressed. The housing facility should be accessible and supportive to the student.

It should be designed to reduce discomfort among the students. For example, the housing should be within the institution, and/or it should not be far from the lecture halls. The housing should also be able to meet the students’ needs. In addition, the housing cost should be affordable to the student.

Can a student with disabilities be provided with accommodation in college?

It is true that students with disabilities can be provided with sensible accommodation in colleges or any other institution of higher learning. Institutions of higher learning do this by modifying their facilities to accommodate students with disabilities. This is done through adjusting policies that govern the institutions.

Modification practices can also include the provision of extra time for the students during exams and other tests. These students should be approached with some leniency in that penalties for minor mistakes should be limited. Also, the course content should be reduced so as to reduce the workload.

These students should also be provided with an extended time for completion of degree courses. It is also important to provide personal care for students who have serious disabilities. These students should be provided with extra aid and other services.

However, if doing so is likely to alter the normal operations of the institution, then the extra aid and other services can be avoided. These institutions must avoid discrimination of any kind against students with disabilities. Nonetheless, there is an official process for getting accommodation (Jaeger and Bowman, p. 181).

Process of getting accommodation

Before any student with a disability is allowed in any institution of higher learning in American, he or she must be confirmed to be eligible to get accommodation as a disabled student. The procedure followed by students who want to get accommodation in institutions differs depending on the institution.

This is because different institutions have different facilities depending on the courses offered. Therefore, this forces the student with disabilities to contact the service program for the disabled students to get guidance regarding the issue of accommodation. If this is not the case, then the student should the dean of students or any academic advisor on the way forward.

Sometimes the disabled student may not be able to identify the appropriate accommodation that they need from the institution. In this case, they should contact the support service program found in the school. After all these have been accomplished, the student should write a letter requesting for accommodation. In this letter, the student should indicate that he or she is disabled and state the disability that can affect his or her full engagement.

The student should also quote the appropriate accommodation that will make him or her comfortable. Again, it is important for the deadline in respect to application for accommodation to be indicated. After this, students are supposed to wait for the response from the concerned authority. If the student does not get any response after the deadline, then the student should appeal or make complains regarding the decision to deny him or her right to accommodation.

If the school does not provide accommodation even after making appeals, there is a procedure that has to be followed. This ensures that the student gets the right to learning without discrimination. The student can talk to the head of faculty or the course instructor regarding the issue.

Also, the student can get help from the disability staff office. The student also has the option of reporting to the dean of faculty or the departmental heads. If all these fail, the student can look for any other avenue to address the issue internally, or liaise with the office of disability services to make a follow up on behalf of the student. Finally, if all of these processes do not bring any success, the student is allowed to file a case with the department of education in the United States in order to get a solution for the situation (Huger, p. 76).

Are there any documents that a disabled student should submit to get accommodation?

There are certain documents a disabled student should have so as to get accommodation in any higher learning institution. However, this again depends on the institution because different institutions have different requirements for accommodation facilities. Any institution of higher learning should ease the requirements so as to accommodate the disabled students.

This is because most students tend to feel discriminated when the requirements are too high or expensive for them to meet. One of the documents that should be presented by the student with a disability is a report from the medical doctor. The document should be current, and should indicate the essential needs for the student who has the disability.

The document should be a medical report that has been signed and administered by a professional doctor. This report should show that some diagnosis has been carried out by a professional doctor; and that, disability characteristics have been detected. Therefore, the doctor should recommend the student for special facilities in any learning institution using the diagnosis results. Some of the disability diagnosis types include hearing impairment, visual impairment, and injuries to the brain that affect the thinking capacity.

The written report to be submitted also should contain various elements as a proof for the disability. The report should have a history of clinics attended up to the last date the student visited the doctor.

It should also contain the current condition of the disability; the degree of seriousness of the disability problem; the process that was used in the identification and verification of the disability; the medication prescribed to the student; symptoms associated with the disability; and the recommendation for the accommodation, which should be very specific in relation to the learning abilities of the student (Wright, p. 240).

Every disability has its own unique documentation; for example, a student having a learning disability cannot have the same documentation of a student who has a hearing disability or is blind. This means that every student should present a document that is quite different from others, and should be examined and considered depending on the disability.

Advice to students with a disability in case they are discriminated in colleges

Discrimination of any kind should be discouraged in all ways possible. The situation becomes critical when discrimination is directed towards individuals with disabilities. In colleges or institutions of higher learning, students with disabilities are often predisposed to various forms of discrimination. There is no doubt that the demands for students with disabilities are many compared to normal students.

For the student who has been discriminated upon, it is advisable to file a complaint to the relevant authorities within the learning institutions. The student has to ensure that he or she exhausts all the internal avenues for complaint before involving other people. If the situation becomes complicated, the student is advised to involve the office of support services in the department of education. The student can also file a case in a court of law.

It is advisable for those students who have disabilities to enroll in institutions that can serve their unique needs. This aims at avoiding unnecessary discrimination issues. The students who have disabilities should not remain silent when they are discriminated upon; instead, they need to come forward and seek redress from the relevant authorities (Brading, and Curtis, p. 226).

This way, the problem of discriminations shall be dealt with in a comprehensive manner. In fact, as mentioned earlier, individuals with disabilities are offered protection by the various federal legislations that have been enacted. The ADA and Section 504 are examples of the federal laws enacted to guard against discrimination in learning institutions based on disability.

Works Cited

Brading, Jean, and John Curtis. Disability Discrimination: A Practical Guide to the New Law. London: Kogan Page, 2000. Print.

Huger, Marianne S. Fostering the Increased Integration of Students with Disabilities. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011. Print.

Jaeger, Paul T, and Cynthia A. Bowman. Disability Matters: Legal and Pedagogical Issues of Disability in Education. Charlotte, N.C: Information Age Pub, 2009. Print.

Koenig, Judith A. Reporting Test Results for Students with Disabilities and English-Language Learners: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2002. Print.

Leap, Terry L. Tenure, Discrimination, and the Courts. Ithaca, NY: ILR Press, 1995. Print.

Russo, Charles J, and Allan G. Osborne. Section 504 and the Ada. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Corwin Press, 2009. Print.

Schwab, Nadine, Mary H. B. Gelfman, and Gerald N. Tirozzi. Legal Issues in School Health Services: A Resource for School Administrators, School Attorneys, School Nurses. New York: Authors Choice Press, 2005. Print.

Wright, Jim. RTI. Toolkit: A Practical Guide for Schools. Port Chester, NY: Dude Publishing, 2007. Print.