If your student who benefited from an IEP or 504 plan is graduating high school soon, you may be wondering what accommodations will be available to them in the future. This largely depends on what they want to do next. Certain accommodations can be made and legally must be provided in both work and postsecondary school settings for qualifying individuals.
Before I get into that, though, let me pause to say “congratulations!” The journey you and your student endured to reach this point was likely challenging. Advocating for your child is not easy. And raising a child is not easy. Graduating high school is a big milestone! So don’t forget to celebrate and relish in your and your student’s accomplishments.
Back to our main point: IEPs, 504s, and graduation. Your student’s high school IEP and 504 plan will not translate after graduating high school, but it may provide some needed documentation. It will also help serve as a milestone for growth and change. The accommodations your student needed in their freshman year of high school may not be the same ones they will need in college or at work.
Let’s dig into this topic of IEPs, 504s and graduating high school.
Accommodations at College or University
A student does not have to inform a postsecondary school of their disability unless they want accommodations.
Accommodations are made based on the individual’s needs and disabilities. These could include a reduced course load to meet full-time requirements, recording devices, note-takers, extended testing time, and more. These could also include adjustments to housing if housing is provided to all other students.
If a student does want accommodations in school, they will have to follow procedures laid out by the school. Specific documentation will also be needed according to the school’s requirements.
It is possible that a school will require the student to do a new educational evaluation, even if they did one before completing high school. Sometimes it depends on how long ago the evaluation was done.
While educational evaluations are offered for free through public schools in grades K-12 for qualifying students, colleges and universities do not have to offer free evaluations. This leaves the cost of an evaluation up to the student.
An evaluation is always valuable. Even in the case when a student has already done an assessment, the new evaluation will reveal areas of growth and new places where there is room for improvement. This is ultimately an investment in an individual’s growth potential. Also, the student’s needs may be different in a collegiate setting.
An academic accommodation can be requested at any time, but I recommend starting the process sooner rather than later if you suspect they will be needed. The evaluation and process will take time to complete.
The U.S. Department of Education provides more information for students with disabilities that are preparing for postsecondary education.
Accommodations in the Workplace
If a student is planning to join the workforce after graduating high school, they can request accommodations at any point. In other words, there is no deadline for requesting accommodations.
I say this because COVID-19 impacted many employees with disabilities and undiagnosed disabilities in unique ways. Many of these people had already been at their jobs for many years.
Some individuals experienced drastic improvements in their productivity when they suddenly had to work at home. These experiences revealed that the individual benefited from fewer office distractions. Now that many employers are requiring employees to come back to the office, these individuals are seeking answers as to why their office environments are not ideal for them.
Conversely, many people with disabilities struggled to work at home and had to make adjustments accordingly.
As an individual who is just starting your career, it’s helpful to know your rights. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. I explain “reasonable workplace accommodations” in more depth in my blog post on workplace accommodations.
Workplace supports may come in a few different forms: visual communication, language and communication, environmental, and structural.
Asking Questions About Accommodations After Graduating High School
If you are overwhelmed about where to start or how to help your graduate, please reach out! This is such an exciting time. The new season of life will come with some challenges but with the right support and attitude, those challenges will only serve to continue shaping your student into a wonderful person.