What is my role as a parent of a college student with a disability?

Parents and family have spent their son’s or daughter’s lifetime being a key aspect of their child’s support system, and your support can continue. However, college is a time for your support to look very different. College students must be challenged in a way that produces growth and development. Appropriate parental involvement must take place within these boundaries and while keeping in mind the long term best interest of the emerging young adult. Such involvement as it relates to college life most often involves advising and encouraging your student as they grow and make their own educated decisions.

Will I be able to speak with Accessibility Services Staff about my son or daughter?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) does not allow students’ academic information to be discussed without their permission, except amongst school officials with a legitimate educational interest. This means that Accessibility Services, by law, can only discuss a student's school-related issues with a parent once a student has signed a Release of Information consent form. This release can be provided upon request by the student, and can be revoked by the student, in writing, at any time. Please note, this release of information serves only the Accessibility Services office, and does not apply to interactions with the rest of the college. You can read the FERPA Policy in the Academic Catalog.

Can I request accommodations for my college student?

All requests must come directly from the student. Though you can assist your student in considering what has worked well in the past, or encourage the student to make contact with Aquinas resources and professors, the student must initiate and engage the process for requesting and implementing accommodations. This is a great time for the student to practice the skills of assessing what is needed in the environment and self-advocating for accessibility, with the support of Accessibility Services.

My student has an IEP/504 Plan.  Is that sufficient for receiving accommodations in college?

An IEP or 504 Plan addresses your student's needs in the K-12 educational program. While the IEP or 504 Plan may provide some useful information, additional information containing professional assessments and recommendations may be required. We are typically happy to review a recent IEP/504 to see if it is sufficient to support an accommodation request before you request additional documentation.

Since the student is now responsible for their educational planning, what are some self-advocacy skills they should develop?

Some important self-advocacy skills that we suggest developing include:

  • Understanding his/her disability: A student should be able to articulate what his or her disability is, and more importantly, how it impacts them.
  • Communicating his/her disability: A student should be able to describe how the disability limits his or her functioning.  A student should also be able to express some ways that he or she could be accommodated.  
  • Being Proactive: a student should provide acceptable documentation to Accessibility Services and request accommodations. A student should also be able to identify if his or her accommodations are not being met.


Accessibility Services
8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday (during fall and spring semesters) in Lower Wege Office 103

(616) 632-2177

For questions or concerns about website accessibility, please contact marketing@aquinas.edu.