IDEA v. ADA

There are many differences between high school and college with regards to disability services. In high school, a student with a disability is identified by the school district and starts the process of developing an Individual Education Plan (IEP) in order to help the student succeed. However, once students reach the college level, a student must self-identify as a student with a disability in order to receive accommodations. The following chart explains in more detail the various differences between high school and college.

IDEA versus ADA

High School (IDEA) Post-Secondary Education (ADA)
Purpose Education IDEA, FAPE – ensures education is FREE and appropriate for students K-12 with disabilities
  • Education is NOT a right. Students must meet admission criteria
  • Protected from discrimination by providing access to programs and services
Initiating Services Identification by school and parents Students must self-identify as an individual needing assistance due to a disability
Documentation Free testing, evaluation, transportation Student is responsible to obtain and provide.
Education Plans & Accommodations
  • Individual Education Plan (IEP) - Identification and coursework developed by a team
  • Accommodations and Modifications
  • Student makes all coursework selections
  • May not alter curriculum
  • Accommodations are on a case-by-case basis
Support IEP team determines support Student must first self-identify and then request for accommodations each semester
Law Law of Entitlement:
Guarantees Success
Civil Rights Law:
Guarantees Access

Adapted from dredf.org and eosc.edu.