Documenting a Disability
While the individual is a primary source of information regarding their needs and institutional barriers they may experience on the basis of a disability, when the disability’s impact is not readily observable, documentation is typically necessary. In general, disability documentation is needed along with an accommodation request to determine appropriate academic adjustments, auxiliary aids & services, modifications, and reasonable accommodations.
However, individuals whose disability impact is readily observable, such as those who travel by wheelchair or are accompanied by a Service Animal (as defined by the ADA), may contact the OAS after submitting a request for accommodations to determine applicable documentation needs and next steps.
Documentation guidelines vary from one institution to another. If attending a different institution or taking a standardized test administered by an outside agency, students are responsible for researching those documentation policies/guidelines and requirements. Due to varying documentation guidelines, it may not be appropriate for OAS to complete paperwork certifying eligibility for standardized tests.
Generally Insufficient Documentation
OAS does not diagnose impairments, assess their severity, or identify the current impact and/or functional limitations of a disability, therefore, office medical records, medical chart notes or prescription pad notations are generally not sufficient for determining eligibility and by submitting it could prolong the decision process.
OAS has created guidelines (not requirements) to assist us in understanding specific disability-related impacts. OAS utilizes flexibility in determining how recent documentation must be, especially for conditions that are permanent or non-varying. Changing conditions and/or changes in how a condition impacts the individual may warrant more frequent updates.
Generally sufficient documentation includes: a psychological/psycho-educational evaluation or a letter from medical/mental health provider which includes:
- Qualifications of Clinician/Provider: Documentation must be typed on office or practice letterhead, dated and signed by a professional who is licensed or certified in the area for which the diagnosis is made. Name, title, and license/certification credentials must be stated and shall not be family members or others with a close personal relationship to the individual.
- Diagnosis & History: A diagnostic statement identifying the disability including ICD or DSM classification along with any relevant personal, psychosocial, medical, developmental and/or educational history.
- Description of Diagnostic Methodology (when applicable): A full description of the diagnostic methodology used, including data and measurements from appropriate evaluation instruments. The results obtained should draw a direct link to the diagnosis and the functional limitations of the disability. For cognitive disorders, evaluations should use adult norms.
- Current Impact and Functional Limitations: A clear description of the level of severity along with the current impact and functional limitations of the condition pertaining to the academic and/or residential settings. Information regarding if symptoms are constant or episodic, and the frequency and/or duration should be addressed. Information provided must reflect the condition substantially limits a major life activity or major bodily function. Any treatments, medications, and/or assistive devices/services currently prescribed or in use, should include a description of the mediating effects and potential side effects from such treatments.
Recommendations (Optional): Recommendations accompanied by a rationale that is directly linked to the impact, functional limitations or medication prescribed to control symptoms associated with the disability are welcomed and considered. However, ODR makes the final determination of the eligibility and appropriate academic adjustments necessary to provide equal access for participation.
To protect the security of sensitive and confidential information, OAS is unable to receive such documents via email.
Materials may be securely submitted via:
- hand delivery to our office located in Everett 114
- US Mail
- Online portal
Materials that are received are scanned and uploaded to an OAS are maintained secure electronic database before paper copies are shredded. Individuals are encouraged to keep originals and a copy of all disability documentation. Forms are provided below for students who would like to limit the information shared from a provider but want to make sure that sufficient information is provided to make a determination regarding an accommodation request.