Parents and/or family of students with disabilities are typically very involved in the process of accommodations during the K-12 education of the student. Involvement of family members is encouraged and, in some situations, required by IDEA (the federal entitlement act which provides for services to students in K-12). However, once a student either graduates from high school or turns 21, they are no longer covered under IDEA; instead, they are now considered adults and are covered under the American’s with Disability Act (ADA) of 1990.
A primary difference between IDEA and Section 504/ADA is that under Section 504/ADA, the student is considered an adult, with the rights and responsibilities of an adult. Due to issues of privacy and confidentiality, information regarding the student, their academic performance, and/or use of accommodations may not be automatically provided to family members. While the Office of Disability Services feels that family involvement in a student’s education is important and should be encouraged, we also feel that the best way for family members to gain information is through their relationship with the student.
Students can fill out a Release of Information Form, granting the permission for the Disability Resource Center staff to speak directly with a family member. This release can either be very specific (such as only confirming whether or not a student has made appointments) or very broad (such as allowing all information to be shared). This release may be revoked at anytime by the student.
Family members may encounter situations in which they need to contact the office, such as in the event of a serious illness or accident where the student is otherwise unable to contact the office themselves. However, In most situations, it is the responsibility of the student to contact the office if they need assistance or support. As accommodations are not retroactive, it is best that a student contacts the Disability Resource Center as early as possible.