Information for Parents and Families

Disability Resources looks forward to welcoming your student to the W&L community and working with them during their time at W&L.

Below, is some information that may be helpful for parents and families as you help your student adjust to Washington and Lee.

What are some of the differences between disability accommodations in high school and college?

While accommodations in high school and college both stem from addressing disability-related needs, the rationale for why accommodations are provided and what they are meant to address are very different.

There are many differences between accommodations in high school and higher education. In contrast to high school, in higher education:

  • Students must self-identify to Disability Resources as a student with a disability
  • Students must supply appropriate documentation to obtain accommodations with Disability Resources at their own expense (IEP and 504 plans are not sufficient)
  • Students must sign a release for Disability Resources to be able to share information with a parent
  • The student is responsible for personal services such as personal assistants or tutoring
  • Accommodations cannot alter the essential elements of programs/courses. Grading and test format changes are generally not available, and professors are not required to modify curriculum design.
  • Accommodations are not provided to help a student achieve success, but to have equal access to the University program.

Will I be able to speak with Disability Resources about my student?

While we are happy to provide general information about the disability accommodation process, we cannot discuss a student's information with parents without the student's permission. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) only allows Disability Resources to discuss student information with a parent once a student has signed a Release of Information consent form. This release can be revoked by the student at any time. Even if a student does choose to sign a FERPA release, Disability Resources will usually involve the student in any discussions with a parent. It is very important that the student is involved in the accommodation process.

Will my student receive the same accommodations as in high school?

Perhaps, but not necessarily. There is a difference between the laws impacting high school and higher education. At the high school level, some accommodations may be provided to help a student with a disability achieve success. In college, accommodations are only provided if needed to ensure equal access.

Additionally, some services provided to high school students may not be provided in higher education because they lower academic standards, fundamentally alter the nature of a service, program or activity, or are devices or services of a personal nature.

What is the process to request accommodations?

Information about how to request accommodations can be found on our "Requesting Accommodations" page.

Does Disability Resources provide tutoring services?

Tutoring and learning support are available to all Washington and Lee students and no accommodations are necessary for the use of these services. Information about the types of support available can be found on the Academic Support webpage

How can I help my student in this process?

Encourage your student to contact Disability Resources early on in their academic career to start the process of requesting accommodations. For incoming students, we encourage students to contact Disability Resources over the summer to provide more time to engage in the interactive process before classes begin.

Help your student obtain documentation of their disability. The Documentation Guidelines describe the type of documentation that should be provided.

Prepare your student to self-advocate for their needs. Your student should be able to talk about how their condition impacts them and what they need.

Encourage your student to utilize resources available to all W&L students, including academic support, and mental health and wellness support.

Additional Resources

The following are resources which parents and families may find useful.

An Open Letter to Parents--Jane Jarrow is the founder and president of Disability Access Information and Support. She is also a parent of a child with a disability who attended college.

Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know your Rights and Responsibilities: US Department of Education & Office for Civil Rights.