Each higher education institution will have different admissions requirements. Some schools have an “open door” admissions policy, which means that most people who apply will be admitted. For example, Delaware Technical Community College requires that a person who applies is a high school graduate or be at least 18 years old and able to benefit from instruction.

Other schools, like the University of Delaware, have more requirements, such as an application, essay, recommendations, and standardized tests.   After these items are reviewed the University will then select the applicants it desires from the pool of people who applied.  Make sure you find out the requirements of the schools that interest you. Most school websites include a checklist of application requirements to help you in the process.


Standardized tests

Many colleges and universities require applicants to take a standardized test as part of the application process. The most common standardized tests are the SAT and the ACT.

You may be eligible to request an accommodation for either of these tests. To make your request, you will need to provide documentation of your disability. It’s a good idea to start the request process early, so that there is enough time for your application to be processed. The process to request an accommodation may be different for each standardized test.



The SAT is a college admission test that tests your knowledge of reading, writing and math. Almost all colleges and universities use the SAT to make their admission decisions. The SAT is usually taken during the junior or senior year of high school. The SAT is offered several times a year.

To learn more about the SAT, see http://sat.collegeboard.org/about-tests/sat.

  • To be eligible for an accommodation, your disability must affect your ability to take a test. Each student’s situation will be different and will be evaluated on an individual basis.
  • Your school may be able to assist you in making your request for accommodations. You may apply for accommodations online or on paper.



The ACT also is a standardized test required by many colleges and universities. Like the SAT, the ACT is offered several times a year.

To learn more about the ACT, see http://www.act.org/

  • Similar to requesting accommodations for the SAT, you must submit documentation to support your request for accommodations for the ACT.


Other Standardized Tests

Schools may require other standardized tests as part of the admission process or after a student has been admitted.


Test Prep Courses

Test prep courses should offer accommodations if you need them to participate in a test preparation course, such as a course to prepare you for the SAT.  Test prep course providers should make appropriate accommodations, including providing auxiliary aids and services, or modify policies, practices and procedures, or removing barriers from test prep facilities.  Contact the test prep course provider and ask to speak to their ADA administrator or coordinator to find out how to request any necessary accommodations.


Disclosure of Your Disability

You are not required to disclose your disability to a higher education institution. If you meet the requirements for admission to the school, you may not be denied admission because you have a disability.

However, you will need to disclose your disability if you need the school to make an adjustment or modification. You should consider disclosing your disability when you need to request that the school make reasonable accommodations. It’s usually better to disclose your disability before you start experiencing problems at the school due to a lack of accommodations.

For example:

  • If you need accommodations during the application process: disclose before you enroll
  • If your disability requires accommodation in choosing classes: disclose when you enroll
  • If you need to request accessible housing on campus: disclose when you enroll
  • If you have a learning disability and need to request extra time to complete exams: disclose after you enroll
  • If you develop a disability during your time as a student: disclose when you need accommodations to complete your studies

If you do not need the school to make any adjustments or modifications, and you can accommodate your needs personally without the school’s assistance, you are not required by law to disclose your disability.

For more information on making these requests, see the section on “Accommodations.”

You may also wish to visit the webpage for the University of Delaware’s Disability Disclosure in/and Higher Education at http://www.udel.edu/csd/conference/index.html.  You can also read a blog post about the 2013 conference and disclosing disability in higher education here: http://sites.udel.edu/csd/2014/03/03/perils-and-prospects-of-disclosing-disability-identity-in-higher-education/.

Good to know!  If you are denied accommodations, or a part of what you requested, you have the right to appeal.   For example, if you requested double time but were only given time-and-a-half, you can appeal that partial denial.  You must look into this immediately as the deadlines for these appeals are short.  Documenting your need for the accommodations is key, such as obtaining a letter from your doctor supporting your requested accommodation.  Please see the “Filing a complaint” section, below, for more information.



By law, higher education institutions cannot discriminate on the basis of disability.[1] To be admitted to a school, you must meet the essential requirements for admission. You may not be denied admission on the basis of disability alone. If you feel that you have been discriminated against, see the section on “Rights and Legal Protections of Students with Disabilities.”

[1] With the exception of religiously-affiliated schools that do not accept federal funding.