Choosing the right post-secondary environment is an important component of college success. For students with disabilities and their families or caregivers, the decision of where to go involves further planning and research on what kinds of support and resources are available. We encourage interested students to visit our Prospective Students page to learn more about URI in the context of their individual needs.

The following information is an adaptation of AHEAD’s “Differences Between High School and College for Students with Disabilities.”

Parental/Caregiver Role

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The parent/caregiver has access to student records and can participate in the special education/support process. The parent or caregiver cannot initiate accommodations with DAI, officially advocate for the student, or request information or services.
The parent/caregiver advocates for the student.The parent/caregiver may not reach out to DAI without the student’s inclusion, and even if the student has signed a DAI release for contact, DAI will not share information without the student's presence and written consent.


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IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)ADAAA (Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008)
Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
IDEA is designed to support successful annual progress through the implementation of modifications and accommodations.ADAAA and 504 laws support reasonable accommodations for equal access to an otherwise qualified person with a disability or chronic condition.


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IEP (Individualized Education Plan/Program and/or 504 Accommodation Plan)ADAAA (Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008)
Sections 504 and 508
The school provides an evaluation at no cost to the student.
Observation and data-driven evaluation results determine eligibility for services based on specific disability categories.High School I.E.P and 504 plans may be acceptable documentation on a case-by-case basis.
DAI requests that documentation be current (less than three years old for evaluations), detailed, and come from an appropriate clinical/medical provider who is treating the condition. Please carefully review our Documentation guidelines for more information about requirements.


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The student is identified by the school and supported by parents/caregivers and teachers.Students (not parents or caregivers) must self-identify to DAI.
The primary responsibility for arranging accommodations belongs to the school.

Parents and caregivers are heavily involved.
The primary responsibility for self-advocacy and arranging accommodations, or scheduling appointments for academic support/tutoring rests with the student.
Teachers initiate student support as needed. Faculty expect the student to initiate contact if assistance is needed.


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Teachers may modify the curriculum and/or alter the pace of assignments.Faculty do not modify curriculum design or alter assignment deadlines, as students have the time and structure in and outside of class to keep pace with their coursework.

This is a component of being otherwise qualified.
Students may have flexibility with work completion requirements and/or deadlines.Students are expected to know themselves as learners and adapt those skills and that self-awareness to the different teaching styles present in a college setting.
The frequency and duration of content-based instruction allow for flexibility and modification. Students are assigned substantial amounts of independent work and are expected to study.
Some accommodations may be made because other skills-based supports are unavailable (ex. executive functioning).Students are expected to advocate for support when needed, and proactively request the use of approved classroom accommodations as needed.

Grades and Tests

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The IEP or 504 may include modifications to test format and/or grading practices. Grading and exam formats change, and may involve multiple-choice, essay, and lengthier assessments.

Accommodations for extended time, access to a computer, a separate setting, or calculator use (basic functions only) may be approved and available through DAI only.
Quizzes or tests are shorter, frequent and cover small amounts of content.Testing frequency varies and may cover short or large amounts of material.