High School vs. Post-Secondary Disability Laws

In high school, students are entitled to receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Once they transition out of high school they will have to request accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) at their college, postsecondary school, vocational training programs, and/or workplace. Accommodations will not be made automatically. It is never too early for families and young people to understand the differences between IDEA & ADA and how it will affect them.

(under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)

  • Services are provided under IDEA or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
  • Parents and students advocate.
  • Parents have access to student records.
  • School district is responsible for students’ evaluations at no cost to the family.
  • Parents and teachers set goals and management needs for students, including time management and organization.
  • Grading and curriculum standards may be modified according to student's needs if a young person is alternately assessed.
  • Transportation is provided if necessary.

(under Americans with Disabilities Act)

  • Services are provided under ADA or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
  • Students self-identify and self-advocate.
  • Students have sole access to their records unless consent is given.
  • Students are responsible for obtaining their own evaluation.
  • Students must organize and structure their own time.
  • Transportation is the students’ responsibility.


• Change in parents' and young persons' roles
• Change in focus from entitlement to eligibility
• Change from services to accommodations

Learning and School, Special education, Transition and college, Family Support, Legal resources
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