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Supporting My Student

Find answers to common questions families have about Central Michigan University's disability services and an explanation of the difference between high school and college level accommodations.

Frequently asked accessibility questions

Students need the support of, but also independence from, their parents and other family members. Appropriate involvement must take place within the boundaries set by the law, by good sense, and by keeping the long-term best interest of the emerging young adult in mind. Such involvement as it relates to university life most often involves advising and encouraging from the sidelines. Only the most extreme circumstances, such as those that seriously threaten the health of the student, allow for direct parental involvement.

A CMU student can sign a waiver giving staff permission to share information with whom they designate. However, you should know that Student Disability Services staff require that the student handle any matters related to our office, including registration and accommodations. We do not work with the parent or family in place of the student.

A student’s role is to successfully transition into an independent adult. We know that students with disabilities face the same challenges as every other college student, plus the challenges related to their disabilities. College is a great time to practice moving from dependence into independence. Therefore:

•  “We do nothing about the student, without the student” – Any action regarding access to services, seeking special assistance, or providing reasonable accommodation must be initiated by the student.

•  “We speak with the student, not about the student” – All communication in any matter related to the student flows through the student.

•  “No one speaks for the student or acts for the student, but the student” – We look to the student to express their needs, provide us with information that will help us assist them, and keep in contact with us.

Federal law requires this. University policies require this. Providing students with the best service in this transition is crucial.

In college, students are to know how they are doing and to seek assistance if they are having problems. CMU does not release information about a student's academic progress. Encourage your student to speak to their professor if they aren't sure how they are doing in the class or are experiencing difficulties.

In college, students are expected to do their own planning. This includes deciding which degree program to enroll in and which courses to take each semester. Academic advisors are available to assist your student with scheduling. Staff members do not consult with parents about a student's schedule.

Your student's experience in college vs high school

Students may find that the accommodations that they receive from CMU are not the same as the accommodations that they have received in the past. The reason for this is that the laws that provide accommodations in secondary (high school) institutions are different than those that apply to post-secondary (college) institutions.

At the secondary level, the goal of accommodations is to provide access and success. However, at the post-secondary level, the goal of accommodations is to provide access in order to grant equal opportunity.  

In order to receive accommodations, students must submit the appropriate disability documentation, including a history of the disability, to the Student Disability Services office.

Provision of ADAAA-mandated accommodations

High School


High schools are required to identify students with disabilities.

Students are required to self-identify and provide documentation of disability.

IEP is developed by a team of professionals, and classes are arranged for the student.Students are responsible for developing their own academic goals, as well as self-advocacy.  The IEP is a K-12 document only.
Student accommodations are determined on a yearly basis.Students must request accommodations.
Parental involvement is mandatory.Parental involvement is limited as students are recognized as adults.
Students attend classes 5 days/week, 6 hours/day.Students spend 12-16 hours per week in class.
Public school district is responsible for costs for provision of public education and accommodationsStudents are responsible for paying university tuition and personal accommodation needs.
Teachers may provide one-to-one feedback on daily classroom performance.Professors expect students to meet syllabus requirements and are available for meetings with students during office hours.
Parents and teachers may closely monitor students' study habits.Students are responsible for developing study habits that lead to their own success. 


U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (2011). Students with disabilities preparing for postsecondary education: Know your rights and responsibilities. Washington, D.C.; U.S. Department of Education.