General Documentation Guidelines
Generally, in order for Accessibility Services to determine appropriate and reasonable accommodations, the student should submit documentation which clearly states a disability-related diagnosis and fully describes the current functional limitations that impact the student in an academic setting. Documentation, along with information obtained directly through an interactive process, serves as the basis for decision-making about a student’s needs for accommodations in a challenging and competitive academic environment.
Documentation that is of a high quality, relevant, useful, and thorough is the most helpful. The outline below has been developed to assist the student in working with the treating or diagnosing professional(s) to obtain the specific information necessary to evaluate eligibility for accommodations. Students requesting accommodations for the manifestations of multiple disabilities must provide evidence of all such conditions.
Third-party documentation should be provided by a licensed or otherwise properly credentialed professional who has appropriate and comprehensive training, relevant experience, and no personal relationship with the individual being evaluated. A logical connection between the credentials of the individual making the diagnosis and the condition being reported is expected (e.g. an orthopedic limitation might be documented by a physician, but not a licensed psychologist.). Documentation from a current treating provider should be on letterhead, be signed and dated, and should generally include:
- A clear diagnostic statement from a professional who is qualified to diagnose the disability
- The date of the diagnosis
- An indication of how the professional arrived at the diagnosis (e.g. clinical interview, medical history, continuous performance assessment, psychological assessment, behavior rating scales, etc.). Diagnostic tests should be based on adult norms.
- Support for the diagnosis and how it meets the definition of a person with a disability under the ADA/§504
- A description of how this impairment substantially limits a major life activity/activities in general and in an academic setting
- Relevant information relating to the impact of medication and/or treatment on the student’s ability to participate in all aspects of the university environment (classroom, housing/dining, extracurricular activities, etc.)
Some conditions vary so guidelines will differ from case-to-case.
Generally, we do not ask third-party providers to recommend specific accommodations; however, any specific recommendation for an accommodation must be supported and logically connected to the student’s disability. The Accessibility Services office will still need to address the reasonableness of the request and, in some instances, may have to consult with the professor or department to determine whether the requested accommodation would result in a fundamental alteration.
Records of Past Accommodations
Accessibility Services will consider records of past accommodations when evaluating a current request for accommodation. Past information is often helpful to develop an understanding of how conditions are likely to impact the student. However, additional current documentation is also needed in most situations. Past records may include, but are not limited to:
- A description of the student’s needs
- Records of past accommodations and services from high school or another college/university
- Formal psychological or medical evaluations
- Letters from past health, education or service providers
- A Summary of Performance (a document prepared between the high school and the student in transition planning) is generally not considered acceptable documentation in and of itself.
Any past documentation submitted should be on letterhead, be signed and dated, and completed by a qualified professional (e.g. medical doctor, psychologist, counselor).
A general statement of symptoms or difficulties is often insufficient. Accessibility Services does not interpret a diagnosis, or the current impact and/or functional limitations from documentation; therefore, the following materials alone are generally insufficient to determine eligibility:
- Official medical records, medical chart notes or prescription pad notations;
- High school IEPs, 504 plans, and/or SOPs not accompanied by disability documentation
- Documents prepared for specific non-educational venues (e.g. SSA, hospital discharge documents, letters written for off-campus housing considerations, etc.)
Accessibility Services has the discretion to require additional documentation if it is determined that the existing documentation is incomplete or inadequate to determine the existence of a disability or the need for accommodations.
An annual update may be requested in circumstances where a student’s disability or condition is expected to change or may change over time with medical procedures, counseling, or other treatment options (e.g. anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, PTSD, head injuries, migraine headaches, etc.).
This documentation should be aligned with the documentation guidelines listed above and should also contain information relating to any changes in levels of functioning the student has encountered over the last year.