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Transitioning to Higher Education

Disability Services and Requirements at The Boston Conservatory

The Boston Conservatory facilitates services and accommodations for students who have impairments and conditions including, but not limited to, learning disabilities, mobility impairments, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders, visual impairments, hearing impairments, chronic health disorders, and/or psychological impairments.

Disability laws through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on the post-secondary level are very different from those in elementary, middle, and high school through Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This can cause some confusion for both students and parents.

The major difference students notice is the greater level of student responsibility, new documentation requirements, and the need to communicate with the Wellness/Disability Services Office on an ongoing basis.

Below are some of the differences between IDEA and the ADA/Rehabilitation Act.



ADA/Rehabilitation Act


Based on student SUCCESS

Based on student ACCESS


Population Served

Birth to 21/high school graduation


Post high school (or 504 plans in Public Education)


State or school district has the duty to locate, evaluate, and identify children who are suspected of being in need of special education.

Institution must provide notice of the services and how to obtain them (web, handbook, letter, etc). Student must be the one to disclose their disability.


§ Evaluation of an impairment that falls within one or more of 14 categories that “adversely affects educational performance” to such a degree as to warrant the provision of special education.

§ Eligibility often linked to a student’s potential.

§ Physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities.

§ Eligibility is based upon comparison to the average person.


§ School district assesses the student at least every 3 years.

§ A team, including the parent, evaluates and determines eligibility.

§ Post-secondary institutions have the right to require documentation meeting professional guidelines.

§ The institution evaluates and determines eligibility.


Goal is to provide support and services to enable the student to meet the state standards and to maximize potential.

Goal is to provide reasonable accommodations to allow access to programs, activities, services, and benefits. No outcome expectations.


School is responsible for ensuring the implementation of the accommodations.

Student is obligated to request specific accommodations, supported by documentation and has the responsibility to identify any implementation issues.


Schools may be required to modify the curriculum and lower standards.

Students must meet academic and technical standards. The institution need not fundamentally alter the program or lower standards.

Services Offered

Schools provide; specially designed instruction to meet the students individual needs, evaluations, transportation, physical therapy, speech therapy, counseling, nursing services, paraprofessional assistance, etc.

Institution provides reasonable modifications to policies and procedures and offers services to enable equal access to what the institution provides. No personal services are provided. The Boston Conservatory provides free counseling and tutoring for all students, but these are not considered accommodations.


Some accommodation requests may place “undue burden” on the institution and therefore do not have to be implemented.

Behavioral Supports

School may put a Behavioral Intervention Plan in place and create strategies to support student’s behavior.

None specified. Changing the student conduct code is not recognized as reasonable.


School and teachers are responsible for implementing accommodations.

Student is responsible for requesting accommodations, receiving approval, and notifying faculty when accommodations are necessary.Students must provide at least one month’s notice of the need for an accommodation.


School may modify curriculum, decrease coursework expectations, or decrease number of assignments, etc.

Students are expected to complete all coursework and to attend all classes. Unlimited time to complete assignments or exams is “unreasonable”.


Please contact The Boston Conservatory Counseling & Wellness Office with any questions:

Director of Wellness Services
(617) 912-9260

Director of Counseling 
(617) 912-9160

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