Parents & Family

Welcome

Welcome to WWU, Viking parents and family members! We recognize that the transition to University is an exciting but difficult one. Some of our staff know the struggle, having sent their own children off to school. They understand that it's hard as parents to let go and that you want the best for your child, just as we do.

The biggest piece of advice we can offer you is to stand behind your student, not in front of them. Our goal is to help them become strong, confident, self-assured, self-advocating, productive citizens of their community. To do that, they need to master the life skills that will help them excel. We appreciate that it can be difficult to step back and watch them have times of success and failure, but those moments will create a more resilient, creative, outstanding student overall.

Differences between K-12 and Higher Education Accommodations

Incoming students may be accustomed to the K-12 accommodations provided via the Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan. The accommodations that we are able to offer at the higher education level may be very different from the accommodations offered in K-12. 

Higher education accommodations are different because, while K-12 accommodations are governed by IDEA (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), we operate under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and all applicable sections under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) of 1990.

The other major fundamental difference is that in K-12, the school district attempts to identify students who many need extra assistance to succeed whereas at the college level, students are expected to self-identify and be their own advocates. The DAC role is that of a partner who assists the student (rather than a leader making decisions for students).

What does this mean?

This means that we work toward creating as even a playing field as possible without creating fundamental alterations to necessary coursework. It is very important that it is your student that begins the dialogue with us. We listen to what they have to say about their needs and partner with them to create strategies for success and inclusion at the higher education level.

The differences in legal rights and responsibilities in secondary and post secondary education

 
  K - 12 Education    Postsecondary Education Practical Application
What is the law? IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
504: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 
ADA: Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 
504: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, particular reference to Subpart E.
ADA: Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. 
Section 504(e) and ADA are not about special education services. Section 504(e) and ADA are about nondiscrimination and access for eligible individuals with disabilities. 
What is a disability? IDEA: a list of 13 disability classification areas are defined under IDEA and include specific learning disabilities. 504/ADA have no such list. A person with a disability is defined as anyone who has: (1) any physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life function; (2) a history of such an impairment; (3) or is regarded as having such an impairment.  504/ADA: a person with a disability is defined as anyone who has: (1) any physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life functions (2) a history of such an impairment (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. ADA also includes HIV status as well as other contagious and non-contagious diseases. 
If you have questions if you qualify for accommodations, contact the DAC and chat with an Access Manager.
Who is covered under the law? IDEA: all children and youth requiring special education services until age 21 or graduation from high school.  504/ADA: qualified individuals with a disability are covered. This includes but is not limited to enrolled students and applicants. Not every student who received special education services under IDEA will be qualified individual with a disability under 504(e) or ADA. Once admitted, not every request for accommodation will be deemed as reasonable.
What is the intent of the law? IDEA: to provide a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment to identified students with disabilities, including special education and related services 
504/ADA: to ensure that no otherwise qualified individual with a disability is denied access to, benefits of, or is subject to discrimination solely on the basis of disability. 

504/ADA: to ensure that no otherwise qualified person with a disability is denied access to benefits. 

ADA is designed to ensure programs do not discriminate on the basis of disability. The mechanism used under ADA is the provision of reasonable accommodation. 

IDEA meets the specific special education needs of the student and modifies the program accordingly.