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Resources for Students with Disabilities

Welcome to Student Accessibility Resources (SAR), an office within the Disability and Accessibility Resources, an administrative unit of the Division of Academic Affairs at West Virginia State University.

student accessibility resources logo

We strive to collaborate with and empower students who have disabilities to enable them to have equal access to an education and university life. WVSU is committed to ensuring qualified students accomplish their educational goals as well as assuring equal opportunity to derive all of the benefits of campus life.

Too often students with disabilities who are new to higher education struggle to make a successful transition to college.  It is easy to understand why the transition can be so difficult when we consider how different the environments are.  It also is important to understand how the laws regarding services for students with disabilities and the accommodation process are different   Students who are accustomed to the IEP (Individual Education Plan) process may expect a similar experience but the law governing such a process does not apply to colleges and universities. 

In higher education, in contrast to the K-12 educational experience where many of the responsibilities are assumed by the school, student responsibilities change.  An IEP - a document and process managed by school system staff -  is not provided for college students with disabilities.  Rather the student is required to self-identify as a person with a disability to the responsible office, request specific accommodations, and then participate in an interactive process with the institution.

The university process is utilized to determine to what extent accommodations will be available to the student.  In determining access options for a student with a disability, including under what circumstances the options will be provided and any parameters necessary, our staff will evaluate any disability-related requests the student makes on an individualized basis after engaging in an interactive process with the student and fully considering the disability and its impact, the request or stated need, and any unique characteristics of the program, course of study and classes.

To begin the interactive process to be considered for accessibility options including reasonable accommodations, the student will -

Once the access consultation is completed and the student submits any required documentation, the staff with the Student Accessibility Resources office will review the information received to determine if the student is a qualified student with a disability and what accessibility options for which the student is eligible. If additional information is required, the student and/or diagnostic professional will be contacted.

If the documentation substantiates the need for accommodations, the student will be provided with reasonable accommodations. During this process, the staff will meet with the student to complete the following:

  • Review submitted documentation
  • Discuss any questions or concerns
  • Prepare appropriate forms to provide reasonable accommodations
  • Provide guidance for utilizing services

NOTE: The determination for resources available through Student Accessibility Resources can take some time to complete. Specialized or complex resources may take longer to process.

It is recommended you contact our office approximately one month in advance of the semester, so we can accommodate you in a timely manner.


  • Checklist prior to Entering College 
  • Accommodation Process 
  • Differences between High School and College


  • Identify sources of information - teachers, counselors, peers, websites
  • Research services/resources offered by different colleges and universities
  • Develop a short-list of colleges and universities
  • Inquire about documentation requirements and registration processes for accommodations
  • Discuss special testing Arrangements for the SAT/ACT with guidance counselor or IEP teacher
  • Undertake college/university visits
  • Refine your short-list of universities
  • Apply to the universities of choice early
  • Once accepted, contact the Accessibility / Disability Service Office at the University


Legally the accommodation process is initiated once student identifies as a student with a disability to a representative of the university and asks for assistance.  This representative may be a faculty member but also can include staff in various offices such as financial aid or public safety.  To initiate a request for an accommodation, an individual may use "plain English" and need not mention Section 504 or the ADA, nor are they required to use the phrase "reasonable accommodation.”  While the courts and OCR have been fairly consistent in placing the responsibility on the student to initiate the process, faculty and staff need to be able to recognize a request and know to refer the student to SAR.  The student should be directed to present their concerns to the staff with Disability and Accessibility Resources (in person, by phone/email/text) who will advise the student of the procedure to initiate and participate in the interactive process.

WVSU provides appropriate accommodations for students with a documented disability. Students with a disability who request accommodations are required to provide appropriate and current documentation. The staff's determination of reasonable accommodations is based on receipt of all proper documentation satisfying the documentation guidelines and providing a clear demonstration of functional limitations regarding the students’ performance in an academic setting.  Such documentation must clearly describe the disability and its effects and impact on the student.  The accessibility/ accommodations are based on a determination of current needs of students with disabilities.

Image result for interactive process


The provision of reasonable accommodations is a collaborative process in which the student, the accessibility specialist, and faculty all play a role.  All three have equally important roles in the process. 

The student is the expert on their condition and how it impacts them when it interacts with the environment.  It is the student’s responsibility to request and provide supporting documentation for specific accommodations, and to engage in dialogue with his/her instructors regarding the implementation of approved accommodations.  

Faculty are the subject matter expert in their discipline.  They also are responsible for setting requirements and polices for their course as well as determining appropriate pedagogical processes for the subject matter.  Faculty have an obligation to provide reasonable accommodations and to ensure that the student has equal access to the course/program while upholding the academic integrity of the courses.   

The staff with Disability and Accessibility Resources are the experts on disabilities and disability laws/regulations.  The staff determine if a student is eligible and which accommodations will assist the student.  

Understanding the Differences between The Responsibilities of HIgh Schools and Colleges

The following information regarding the responsibilities educational system have with regards to students with disabilities is provided for you reference to help ease the transition and provide a successful beginning to university life.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are very different. In high schools for example, under IDEA, special education program procedures may apply to students with learning disabilities. High school students who are in wheelchairs, may fall under a subpart of Section 504. 

IEP's (Individual Education Plans) are developed for these students because that is the procedure required under the IDEA mandated program. A misunderstanding can result from the practice of assuming that the 504 Plan or the IEP developed at a high school will be binding on a college or university. 

You may be wondering are there IEPs and 504 plans in college? The short answer is there are no IEPs or 504 plans in college. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the law that provides students with IEPs , no longer applies to them once a student graduates from high school.  

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 still protects students from discrimination when they get to college. However, they won’t get a 504 plan like they had in high school. In other words, a a 504 plan from high school doesn’t “travel” with the student to college.

Students can still receive accommodations in college. Institutions of higher educatoin are required to consider and provide accommodations under Section 504. You aren’t likely to hear many colleges use the term “504 plan,” though.

The disability service model in higher education is very different from the one high-schoolers (and their parents) are used to. Each college or university tends to offer different types of support. This is a reason why it’s important to learn as much as you can about disability services and resources in the colleges and university in which you are interested in attending.

For example, the process of requesting and receiving accommodations in college is not the same as in high school. Colleges may also vary in their requirements for documentation. Another big difference between high school and college is the student has to seek out and request the supports that colleges offer.

It’s also important for the student to understand their learning or thinking differences and be able to talk about them. That’s one reason why it’s important for student's to work on self-advocacy skills in high school. Having the student attend IEP meetings can help with this. It also can be helpful to to ask the high school IEP team to include self-advocacy goals in the IEP.

The Laws which are applicable are as follows:

High School:

  • IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)


  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)


The following are the responsibilities of the respective entities with regards to students with disabilities:

High School:

  • Identify students with disabilities
  • Provide assessment of learning disabilities
  • Classify disabilities according to specified diagnostic categories
  • Involve parents or guardians in placement decisions
  • Provide certain non-academic services
  • Place student in programs where they can benefit (in any way) by placement committee with parent participation and approval
  • Structure a large part of the student's weekly schedule
  • Modify educational programs
  • Prepare IEP's
  • Provide a free and appropriate education
  • Provide appropriate services by the school nurse or health services


  • Protect a student's right to privacy and confidentiality
  • Provide access to programs and services which are offered to persons without disabilities
  • Inform students of office location and procedures for requesting accommodations
  • Accept and evaluate verifying documentation
  • Determine that a mental or physical impairment causes a substantial limitation of a major life activity based on student-provided verifying documents.
  • Determine whether a student is otherwise qualified for participation in the program or service, with or without accommodations, and if so, whether a reasonable accommodation is possible.
  • Make reasonable accommodations for students who meet the above qualifying criteria
  • Provide reasonable access to program and service choices equal to those available to the general public.
  • Inform students of their rights and responsibilities.

Universities are NOT required to:

  • Reduce or adjust the essential requirements of a course or program
  • Conduct testing and assessment of learning disabilities
  • Provide personal attendants or services
  • Provide personal or private tutors
  • Prepare IEP's


In contrast to the K-12 educational experience where many of the responsibilities are assumed by the school, student responsibilities at a college or university also change. 

It is the Student's Responsibility to:

  • Self-identify or disclose their disability
  • ​Complete the request form and process
  • Provide verifying documentation
  • Obtain assessment and test results and make them available to the university
  • Arrange their own weekly schedules
  • Contact the Office overseeing accommodations requests
  • Arrange for and obtain their own personal tutoring



picture of Michael Casey seated on desk in his office, program coordinator

Michael Casey, MS, CRC, CDF, LCAS

Director of Disability and Accessibility Resources

Kira Bennett

Office Assistant/Access Aid

Disability & Accessibility Resources
  • Student Accessibility Resources
  • SAR Testing Center
  • Steps-2-Success


Phone/Text:         (681) 533-0850
Office:                   117 Sullivan Hall East

Monday - Friday
Fall/Spring   8:30am - 5:00pm
Summer       8:00am - 4:00pm

Referral FormRequest for Accommodations FormSchedule an AppointmentOnline Drop-in with CoordinatorTesting Center Appointment RequestAnimals on CampusDisability Verification FormSign-up for Text RemindersReport an Accommodation Issue

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