Link Between Wealth and Disability Accommodations

May 18, 2016

Colleges and universities are required under federal laws to offer accommodations to students who can demonstrate that a learning disability poses difficulties for their academic success. But as a new study notes, students must demonstrate that they have a disability, and this frequently involves paying for testing. The study, published in the journal Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, surveyed undergraduates at 11 doctoral-granting universities, and found that only about a third of those reporting learning disabilities received accommodations. Finances may be at play. Half of the wealthiest students with learning disabilities reported receiving accommodations, a much higher rate than for students of more modest means. "Accommodations are free, but the tests to prove you have a learning disability are not," said Karla McGregor, a professor of communication sciences and disorders at the University of Iowa and lead author of the study.

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