What are a public or private college-university's responsibilities to students with disabilities?

Both public and private colleges and universities must provide equal access to postsecondary education for students with disabilities. Title II of the ADA covers publicly-funded universities, community colleges and vocational schools. Title III of the ADA covers privately-funded schools.  All public or private schools that receive federal funding are required under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to make their programs accessible to students with disabilities.

All the programs of postsecondary institutions, including extracurricular activities, must be accessible to students with disabilities. The schools can do this in several ways: by providing architectural access to buildings, including residential facilities; by providing aids and services necessary for effective communication, like sign language interpreters, Braille or electronic formats and assistive listening devices; and by modifying policies, practices and procedures, such as testing accommodations and access to school facilities for service animals.  Accommodations and program modifications should be individually designed to meet the needs of the student with a disability.

Accommodations and modifications of policies and practices are not required when it would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity or give rise to an undue financial or administrative burden.

Postsecondary institutions often have an office that coordinates accommodations for students with disabilities.  The student should notify the appropriate institutional office well in advance of the needed modification or accommodation.  Technical guidance is available through the ADA National Network at 1-800-949-4232. For more information please visit:

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