(adapted from Virginia Higher Education, Guidelines for Documentation of Disability)
Under federal law (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the American with Disabilities Act of 1990), individuals with disabilities are defined as having “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual; a record of such impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment. Individuals with disabilities are protected from discrimination in admissions and employment. With adequate documentation of the current impact of the disability, individuals are entitled to appropriate accommodations. Therefore, documentation serves two primary purposes in post-secondary education. First, documentation must establish that the individual has a disability, and therefore is protected from discrimination. Second, the documentation must describe the current functional impact of the disability so that potential accommodations can be identified.
Students must disclose and submit documentation of their disability to the College before accommodations will be provided. For Learning Disabilities and Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder, documentation must be within the last 3 years. For Psychological Disabilities, documentation must be within the past year and reevaluated annually or as needed warranted by the request of accommodations. For Medical, mobility and sensory impairments, the age of acceptable documentation is dependent upon the disabling condition, the current status of the student and the student's request for accommodations.
Documentation must Include a clear statement of the diagnosis, the basis for the diagnosis, and the current impact of the disability as it relates to the accommodation request. As appropriate to the disability, the documentation should include the following elements:
- A diagnostic statement identifying the disability, date of the most current diagnostic evaluation, and the date of the original diagnosis.
- A description of the diagnostic tests, methods, and/or criteria used including specific test results (including standardized testing scores) and the examiner's narrative interpretation.
- A description of the current functional impact of the disability. This may be in the form of an examiner's narrative, and/or an interview, but must have a rational relationship to diagnostic assessments. For learning disabilities, current documentation is defined using adult norms.
- A statement indicating treatments, medications, or assistive devices/services currently prescribed or in use, with a description of the mediating effects and potential side effects from such treatments.
- A description of the expected progression or stability of the impact of the disability over time, particularly the next five years.
- A history of previous accommodations and their impact.
- The credentials of the diagnosing professional (s), if not clear from the letterhead or other forms. Please note that diagnosing professionals shall not be family members or others with a close personal relationship with the individual being evaluated.
- Documentation prepared for specific non-educational venues (i.e. Social Security Administration, or Department of Veteran's Affairs, etc.) may not meet these criteria.
- IEP or 504 plans will not be considered sufficient documentation unless accompanied by a current and complete evaluation.
- Recommendations for accommodations, adaptive devices, assistive services, compensatory strategies, and/or collateral support services should be considered within the context of the individual's current program. Accommodation decisions are to be made on a case-by-case basis, considering the impact of a particular student's disability within the specific context in which that student must function.