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Accommodations for College or Training

You may have had an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) in middle or high school that included accommodations or modifications to help you attend school and learn, but the types of accommodations you receive after high school can be different, even though your needs haven’t changed.

The reason? The two processes are governed by two different laws — the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For example, in high school, if you have a learning disability, you may have been assigned a reader to help you with taking tests. In college, you may be allowed to use computer software specially designed for people with learning disabilities.

Here are some examples of accommodations in college:

  • Use of a calculator
  • Extra time on tests
  • Use of assistive technology
  • Seating towards the front of the room (also known as preferential seating)
  • Note taker
  • Copies of instructor notes and lecture material

You may also receive acccommodations for entrance tests such as the Accuplacer, SAT or PSAT test.

Requesting an Accommodation

Requesting an accommodation can be different from school to school. Typically, you will meet with someone from the disability-services office to talk about your needs and figure out the accommodations you require for your courses.

After accommodations have been agreed upon, you will be given a letter to show each instructor that explains the accommodations. This letter does not usually identify the reasons for accommodation, just what has been agreed to by you and the disability-services office.

It is your responsibility to take this letter to each instructor and talk about the accommodations. If you don’t do this, you will likely not receive them. Also, if the accommodation you require means alternative testing or similar, you must make arrangements with your instructor before the exam.


Your request for accommodation must be disability-related and must be backed up by documentation (typically, an official letter) from a qualified professional. In other words, the person providing the recommendation for your accommodation has the necessary training or license to make the recommendation.

Some colleges or programs have very specific guidelines on testing or professional licensure required to diagnose particular disabilities, such as learning disabilities. Sometimes a professional is qualified to perform an evaluation for high school but do not meet the requirements for a college. If you already know where you want to attend college or receive training, you should contact that institution’s disability services office for more information on accommodation and documentation.

In some instances, you can ask to be reevaluated while still in high school as part of the transition plan. This can be done through the PET process to make sure that documentation is current and completed by a qualified professional.

Technical Assistance

Technical assistance is available to help you learn what kind of accommodation you need. 

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN)

The Job Accommodation Network provides a wealth of information for employers and individuals on its website. They also provide training and free consulting services for employers of any size.

Maine CITE Coordinating Center

The Maine CITE Coordinating Center helps people get assistive technology as needed to perform their jobs.  Maine CITE staff can also teach you how to use it! 

Assistive technology is equipment or devices that make it easier for people to live and work more independently - often can provide the solution for a particular job or worksite accommodation need.