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Rights & Responsibilities

an individual being interviewed in a private office

The regulations governing special education and accommodations for students with disabilities are different in high school than they are in post-secondary. Because access to education is regulated in different ways – future post-secondary students need to be aware that the process of accessing accommodations will be different.


A woman in a public place, sitting, with papers in hand. She is looking out a window with a thoughtful gaze.The regulations outlined above mean that students have the right to equal access to education at post-secondary institutions. Universities and colleges meet these rights, by providing accommodations and other services to students with disabilities through their Accessibility Services Office (AS). While students have the right to equal treatment, they also have responsibilities.

  • For students who wish to receive formal accommodations from the AS, it is their responsibility to self-identify and to provide appropriate documentation of their disability to AS staff.
  • Students have the responsibility to follow the rules and guidelines set out by the AS.

For example, a common accommodation is for students to write exams in a special room – however it is often the responsibility of the student to book a place in the testing room in advance of each exam. If a student were to arrive 10 minutes before the exam without booking ahead, the institution may not be able to accommodate the student on such short notice.

Students in post-secondary school must take a larger role in arranging and implementing their own accommodations than they did in high school. It can sometimes be difficult for incoming students to take on this challenge of becoming more independent and advocating for themselves.

What Will be Different in Post-Secondary?

It is important to remember that the laws that regulate accommodations at college and university are different than those for high school. Many post-secondary institutions require more specific and comprehensive documentation to show proof of a disability than is required in high school (especially for ADHD and learning disabilities). Incoming students will not automatically receive the same accommodations at college or university that they received at high school. Research indicates that 25% extra time allows students with disabilities to access and understand test materials without creating an advantage to them or a disadvantage to others. Currently, 25% to 50% extra time may be allotted to students who require additional time to process materials, although it is highly unusual for post-secondary institutions to grant double time, even if this was an accommodation that a student recieved in high school. To discuss available accommodations, students should contact the AS at their post-secondary school directly.

Chart of Differences between High School and College/University (PDF - 208 KB)