Welcome, Parents!

Students sitting outside of their residence hall
"Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself." - Rumi

Welcome to South Alabama

The University of South Alabama welcomes you, Jaguar parents and family. You're entrusting our staff and faculty with your most sacred treasure and, as some of us are parents ourselves, who have sent our own children off to school, we understand. 

The best advice we can give you is this: stand behind your children, not in their path. Support them along their journey to independence and growth. Our goal as a University is to foster that growth, and provide them with every opportunity to succeed and become self-assure, self-advocating, confident, and strong. We realize it can be difficult, and at times scary, to let go and watch them succeed and fail on their own but that will create a more resilient, creative, and outstanding student. 

Differences Between K-12 and University Accommodations

Many of our students are accustomed to K-12 accommodations that are based on an IEP. The accommodations that we are able to offer at the university level can be very different from the ones they are used to because we are not governed by IDEA (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). Colleges and Universities operate under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and all applicable sections under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) of 1990.

The other major fundamental difference is that in K-12, the school district attempts to identify students who many need extra assistance to succeed whereas at the college level, students are expected to self-identify and be their own advocates to they can acquire the skills needed to propagate their own success. Our role becomes one of a partner that assists the student rather than a leader making decisions for them.

What This Means For You and Your Student

The Office of Student Disability Services at the University of South Alabama is committed to creating as level a playing field as possible without creating fundamental alterations to the coursework required to graduate once they self-identify and reach out to our office for assistance. It is crucial to their success as a student that they initiate the conversation with our office as early as possible as once they have entered into our interactive process, we can begin determining the best strategies and accommodations to help them succeed while enrolled at the University of South Alabama.

At a Glance

Description K-12 University
Federal Laws
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
Section 504 (particularly subpart E) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
Purpose of Legislation
To ensure that all eligible students with disabilities have available a free appropriate public education (FAPE), including special education and related services (IDEA). To ensure that no otherwise qualified person with a disability be denied access to, or the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination by any program or activity provided by any public institution or entity (504/ADA)
To ensure that no otherwise qualified person with a disability be denied access to, or the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination by any program or activity provided by any public institution or entity (504/ADA)
Eligibility for Services
All infants, children, and youth (0 through 21 years) with disabilities (as defined by the state Administrative Rules for Special Education, and/or the ADA)
Anyone who meets the entry level-age criteria of the college and who can document the existence of a disability as defined by Section 504 and ADA
Necessary Documentation
School districts are responsible for providing trained personnel to assess eligibility and plan educational services
Students are responsible for obtaining disability documentation from a professional who is qualified to assess their particular disability
Receiving Services
School districts are responsible for identifying students with disabilities, designing special instruction, and/or providing accommodations
Students are responsible for telling Disability Services staff that they have a disability, and for requesting accommodations for each class. Accommodations (not special education) are provided so students with disabilities can access the educational programs or courses used by other students
Self-Advocacy
Students with disabilities theoretically learn about their disability, the importance of self-advocacy, the accommodations they need, and how to be a competent self-advocate
Students must be able to describe their disability, identify strengths and weaknesses, and identify any accommodations needed and how to be a competent self-advocate