student working on a laptop


Accessing Learning Disability Services in College

Blog Type:  College Prep Date Posted:  Friday, December 15, 2017

student working with a college counslor

By Grace Daley

When you make the transition from high school to college, many parts of life will change. Maybe you’ll go to school in a new county, province, state, or country. Certainly, your schedule will be different than anything you've experienced. You’ll make new friends. Your teachers will be called “Professor.” You’ll likely have more homework.

Despite these changes, you, the student, will still be you. If you had a hard time waking up in high school, the same will be true in college. If you loved to read before bed, you will want to do the same as a freshman at university. And if you have a language-based learning disability (LBLD) and academic accommodations helped you in high school, they will certainly help you in college as your disability will remain with you. The difference is, in college, your disability becomes solely your responsibility.

Accommodations Offered at the College Level

You should ask yourself: What accommodations are available and how do I access them? All schools have slightly different accommodations; those available for students with LBLD often include the following:

  • Extended time on exams
  • A distraction-reduced environment for exams
  • A notetaker
  • Permission to audio-record lectures
  • Texts in audio format
  • Executive functioning coaching

All colleges have slightly different processes for requesting accommodations, but they all require students to provide documentation of their disability. As you’re thinking about beginning your college career, there are some proactive steps you can take to make sure you receive the help you need as soon as you start class.

Have updated documentation. The disability services office at a college or university must base its determination of accommodations on recent documentation of a significant need from a licensed professional. Many colleges won’t accept an IEP or 504 plan alone as documentation of a disability. Neuropsychological or psycho educational testing within three years is acceptable, but testing in a student's senior year of high school is best. Check with the colleges or universities you are applying to about their preference.

Familiarize yourself with your school’s process. The college or university's disability website is a great place to start. Send them an email or give them a call if you’re still unsure of the steps. Ask how soon you can begin receiving accommodations once you start.

Know what has worked in the past. Maybe using flashcards really helped you learn new vocabulary terms. Or perhaps it helped to make margin notes on your readings, tests, and quizzes in order to process the information. You have been given a whole toolkit of strategies that have helped you get the most out of your education. The ability to apply these strategies and advocate for help acquiring similar accommodations can make this challenging transition smoother.

Meet the people who can help you. When you arrive on campus for accepted students’ day or orientation, visit the disability services office. This can be a scary step for some, and sometimes it is easier if you go with your parents or a friend. Just remember, this office exists to support your learning needs and they want to help. Lots of aspects of your life will change in college, but you will be the constant. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Use strategies that you’ve learned and don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself. Grace Daley is the Student Services Coordinator at Boston University's Office of Disability Services.

more college prep posts

landmark school banner ad

Tags:  Accommodations college accommodations language-based learning disability self-advocacy

New Guidelines, Standardized Test Accommodations

Blog Type:  Learning Disabilities Date Posted:  Tuesday, January 12, 2016

boy struggling with text

By Janet Thibeau

For years, students with disabilities have been denied accommodations when taking the LSAT exam, even when they’ve submitted the proper paperwork. This year, that’s changed, and not just for the LSAT, but for all national standardized tests. This ruling has far-reaching implications for any student who will be taking a standardized test and requesting accommodations. If you are student or the parent of a student who will be taking a standardized test, it’s important to understand these guidelines, each testing entities’ process for requesting accommodations, and the appeal process to use if your request for accommodations is denied.


In 2010, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) began an investigation into the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), the group that administers the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). In 2012, the Department of Justice intervened in the class action. They alleged widespread failure to accommodate exam takers with disabilities, even in cases where applicants had submitted proper paperwork and demonstrated a history of testing accommodations. In 2014, the lawsuit was settled, and on September 8, 2015, the Justice Department issued a technical advisory about standardized testing accommodations that applies to many of the most popular national tests.

What standardized tests are covered?

The advisory applies to exams administered by any private, state, or local government entity, including:

  • High school equivalency exams (such as the GED)
  • High school entrance exams (such as the SSAT or ISEE)
  • College entrance exams (such as the SAT or ACT)
  • Exams for admission to professional schools (such as the LSAT or MCAT)
  • Admissions exams for graduate schools (such as the GRE or GMAT); and
  • Licensing exams for trade purposes (such as cosmetology) or professional purposes (such as bar exams or medical licensing exams, including clinical assessments.)

Key points

Key points in the new advisory include:

  • Students who receive testing accommodations in school based on an IEP or Section 504 Plan should generally receive the same accommodations on standardized tests.
  • Students who receive informal accommodations should not be considered ineligible for accommodations on standardized tests.
  • Students who receive testing accommodations in a private school, without an IEP or Section 504, should generally receive the same accommodations on standardized tests.
  • High grades should not prevent a student from receiving accommodations. Students who perform well academically may still be entitled to test accommodations.
  • Students who receive accommodations on similar standardized and high-stakes tests should generally receive the same accommodations for additional tests. Documentation of previous accommodations should be sufficient.
  • Documentation used to support a request for testing accommodations must be reasonable and limited to what is needed to determine diagnosis and the need for accommodations. Acceptable documentation should include recommendations from medical professionals, proof of previous accommodations, and observations of educators.
  • Testing entities should defer to documentation from a qualified professional who has made an individualized assessment of the candidate that supports the need for the requested testing accommodations.
  • A testing entity must respond in a timely manner to requests for testing accommodations so as to ensure equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities.
  • Testing entities should report accommodated scores in the same way they report scores generally. Flagging policies that impede individuals with disabilities from fairly competing for and pursuing educational and employment opportunities are prohibited.

ADA Testing Accommodations

head shot 1

About the Author

Janet Thibeau works for Barlow Thibeau & Associates Education as a college consultant and educational advocate. She is the President-elect of MABIDA, the Massachusetts Branch of the International Dyslexia Association. Janet and her husband Jim have five children, four who have dyslexia. One of her children is a Landmark School alum and another is a current Landmark student.  

more learning disabilities posts

landmark school banner ad

Tags:  Accommodations ACT dyslexia GED Landmark School language-based learning disabilities LBLD learning differences learning disabilities SAT standardized testing testing accommodations

Help Your Struggling Learner: Remediation Is a Key to Success

Blog Type:  Learning Disabilities Date Posted:  Thursday, November 2, 2017 Byline:  By Christine Ozahowski

girl working in tutorial

This is part three of the five-part series, What Is a Language-Based Learning Disability?  

We know that 15%–20% of the population has a Language-Based Learning Disability (LBLD), such as dyslexia, and that students with LBLDs learn differently and need to be taught differently. There are two primary approaches to teaching students with these learning differences: accommodation and remediation.lbld graphic 1

  • Accommodations:  Allow "a student to complete the same assignment or test as other students, but with a change in the timing, formatting, setting, scheduling, response and/or presentation."1 In other words, accommodations are intended to help kids learn the same material and meet the same expectations as their classmates2.
  • Remediation: The student is taught strategies through a structured, sequential, multisensory approach that enables them to acquire academic skills in reading, spelling, and oral and written language.


Accommodations vary by student and come in many forms. Common types of accommodations include:

  • Presentation: Material is presented visually, orally, in large print, or with the use of assistive technology.
  • Exams and Assignments: Students can dictate their answers using technology or a scribe or type them.
  • Setting: Students are allowed to sit in an area of a classroom that benefits their learning style or take exams in small groups or individually.
  • Time: Students are given extended time to complete exams and assignments.
  • Assignments: Students may receive help with homework or reduced assignments, and exams and projects may be adapted.

Remedial Approach

Alternatively, students who are offered a more remedial teaching approach in a one-to-one or small-group setting can achieve academic success that they never thought possible. A 2009 study by the Johns Hopkins University School of Education’s Center for Research and Reform in Education, called a one-to-one tutorial model for reading instruction the “gold standard” of remedial instruction for struggling readers 3.

Examples of effective remedial instruction include Landmark's Six Teaching PrinciplesTM:lbld graphic 3

  • Multisensory approach: Present information to students via three sensory modalities: visual, auditory, and tactile.
  • Micro-unit and structure tasks: Break information down into its smallest units and provide clear guidelines for all assignments.
  • Provide models: Present students with concrete examples of what teachers expect.
  • Include the student in the learning process: Involve students in the learning process so they become aware of how they learn and why certain skills benefit them.
  • Provide opportunities for success: Teachers give students whatever structure is necessary to help students be successful, such as study guides, templates, and guidelines.
  • Review and practice: Provide ample opportunities for students to repeat and review learned material.

Designing an effective remedial approach to instruction depends upon an accurate assessment of the student’s cognitive ability and academic skill level. Knowing the student’s learning profile enables educators to teach to the student’s areas of strength and effectively remediate the areas of weakness or difficulty.lbld graphic 2

In her book, Overcoming Dyslexia, Dr. Sally Shaywitz describes this as the student’s “sea of strength”4.

“Whatever those strengths are—the ability to reason, to analyze, to conceptualize, to be creative, to have empathy, to visualize, to imagine, or to think in novel ways—it is imperative that these strengths be identified, nurtured, and allowed to define that child”5.

Benefits of Remediation

Extensive research supports the efficacy of remedial instruction and has informed instructional design and practice, which have been proven to be particularly effective for students with LBLD.6,7,8lbld graphic 4

The development of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which measures brain activity, has enabled researchers to observe the effects of remedial approaches, particularly reading instruction, in children with LBLDs. The research indicates that reading remediation, especially at an early age, creates changes in the brain’s neural pathways that enable the brain to process the written word.

Early intervention for students with LBLD is a key factor in maximizing the student’s success; kindergarten and first grade are the optimal times to begin remediation. Part four of the “What Is a Language-Based Learning Disability?” series address early intervention.

Reaping the Rewards of Remediation

Remediation is most successful when teachers have received highly specialized instruction and are proficient in the remedial reading program(s) they are using. Although this is not always possible, students should receive remedial instruction four to five days per week until the student is able to read fluently at grade level.

While accommodations can offer some support for students with LBLD, research clearly supports effective remediation as the best pathway to ensuring a student’s success as a reader and as a student.

  1. The Difference Between Accommodations and Modifications [webpage]. Retrieved from
  2. Wright's Law. School Accommodations and Modifications [webpage]. Retrieved from
  3. Slavin, R.E., Lake, C., Davis, S., & Madden, N. (2009, June). Effective Programs for Struggling Readers: A Best Evidence Synthesis. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University, Center for Data-Driven Reform in Education.
  4. Shaywitz, Sally. (2005). Overcoming Dyslexia. New York, N.Y. Vintage (p. 57).
  5. Shaywitz, Sally. (2005). Overcoming Dyslexia. New York, N.Y. Vintage (p. 172).
  6. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Phonological Remediation Program in Students with Developmental Dyslexia [webpage]. Retrieved from
  7. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Phonological Remediation Program in Students with Learning Difficulties [webpage] Retrieved from
  8. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine.  Performance of School Children with Specific Reading Disabilities in a Remediation Program [webpage]. Retrieved from

About the Author


Christine Ozahowski is the former Associate Director of Admission at Landmark School.




What Is a Language-Based Learning Disability? Five Part Series

This is part three of the five-part series, What Is a Language-Based Learning Disability?

Part One: What We Know About LBLD and Learning, by Bob Broudoflame
Part Two: Language-Based Learning Disabilities: A Primer, by Melody O'Neil
Part Three: Help Your Struggling Learner: Remediation Is a Key to Success, by Christine Ozahowski
Part Four: It's a Myth That Young Children Cannot Be Screened for Dyslexia, by Nadine Gaab, PhD
Part Five: Language-Based Learning Disabilities on the Homefront, by Angela Timpone Gowans

more learning disability posts

brilliance award winner icon's post by Bob Broudo about LBLD and Learning won a 2017 Gold InspirED School Marketers Brilliance Award in the national competition that recognizes excellence in private and independent school marketing and communications.

Tags:  Accommodations language-based learning disability fMRI language remediation

Academic Expectations & Self Advocacy: High School vs College

Blog Type:  College Prep Date Posted:  Thursday, June 28, 2018

Read more posts about Navigating the College Admissions Process for Students with Learning Disabilities


Making the leap from high school to college can be overwhelming for students. The transition can be easier if they know what to expect in college. This table outlines what is expected of students in high school and college in regard to academics and self-advocacy.

High School College
Most of the learning happens in the class. Homework supports the class experience. Most of the learning happens outside the class. Class work supports the outside learning experience.
Parents serve as advocates for students and work with teachers directly. Students must advocate for themselves.
Faculty and families establish study hall times and locations. Students must plan their own study times.
Homework is given on a daily basis. Students are given a syllabus with homework and assignments listed for the semester.
Teachers seek out students who need additional support and help. Students must find professors during office hours to get extra help and support.
Readings are discussed and reviewed in class. Professors assume students complete the reading and will ask any questions they have.
Teachers work to engage students in class discussion. Professors give opportunities for discussion but do not always prompt students who are reluctant to participate.
Teachers will often review information prior to a test. Professors expect students to review on their own and will teach until the day before a test.

Check out Landmark School's Transition and Guidance page to learn more about the transition to college and other post-secondary options.

More College Prep Posts

landmark school banner ad

Tags:  Accommodations college admissions college advice self-advocacy
Subscribe to RSS - Accommodations