Documenting your disability
General documentation policies that apply to everyone
In order to establish that an individual is covered under the guidelines of the ADA and ADAA, documentation must indicate that the disability substantially limits a major life activity. Examples of major life activities include walking, sitting, standing, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, communicating, thinking, concentrating, and other similar activities. Quality disability documentation has the following essential elements:
- Testing should be recent, relevant and comprehensive, and, if appropriate, documentation must also contain test scores and interpretation (ex. learning disability report, audiogram, etc.)
- Documentation must show a substantial impact on one or more major life activities
- Indicate whether the impact is current and stable or fluctuating (fluctuations may require updated documentation of the condition)
- Documentation must effectively confirm the nature and extent of the disability based on current professional standards and techniques
- Documentation must effectively validate the need for accommodations
- The evaluation must be provided by a licensed clinical professional familiar with the history and functional implications of the impairment(s) and must not be a member of the student's family
- The evaluation must show the official letterhead of the professional describing the disability with the name, title and professional credentials of the evaluator
- The report must be dated and signed by the evaluator
- The report should include all documentation for multiple disabilities disclosed
Incomplete or insufficient documentation
If a student submits incomplete or inadequate documentation for determining the extent of the disability or reasonable accommodations, Student Disability Services has the right to request further documentation with the student bearing the cost of the evaluation. SDS does not do any diagnostic evaluation of disabilities but can provide students with testing resources.
Documentation for specific disabilities
While it is not practical or desirable to create specific protocols for documenting every possible condition that might be considered a disability, documentation guidelines can be found for the more common conditions that are served by Student Disability Services.
In order to meet the needs of individuals with documented disabilities, Student Disability Services has identified the following categories of disabilities for which specific documentation is required in order to register with SDS.
- Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD and ADD)
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (refer to Learning and Cognitive Disabilities)
- Blindness/Visual Impairment
- Brain Injury
- Medical Conditions
- Deafness/Hard of Hearing
- Learning and Cognitive Disabilities
- Physical Dexterity/Mobility Disabilities
- Psychiatric/Psychological Disabilities
- Temporary Disabilities and Other Conditions
Student Disability Services (SDS) follows strict standards of confidentiality in the management of student disability information. SDS is the sole holder of disability documentation and this documentation is kept separate from other records such as the student's permanent educational record. Accommodations provided by Student Disability Services do not appear on the academic transcript and there is no marker on the transcript to indicate that a student is registered with SDS.
It is important to be aware of the responsibility that SDS bears in a "need-to-know" student case. In the case of disclosure of any information to a faculty or staff member, it is decided on a case-by-case basis. When students request accommodations, it may be necessary to discuss with a faculty or staff member the nature of the disability and the relationship of the disability to the course in order to implement the appropriate accommodations without making a full disclosure of the disability to the faculty or staff member.
- Student Disability Services has an obligation to confirm disability status in order to issue appropriate accommodations.
- Students have a right to privacy and not to have confidential information freely disseminated throughout the university.
- When students register with SDS and sign the accommodation form, they are acknowledging that some level of disclosure to a faculty or staff member may be necessary in order to implement requested accommodations.
- Disability documentation records are not shared directly with any faculty or staff member outside the Student Disability office.
- In the event that a registered SDS student seeks a course waiver at the institution, it may be necessary for the student to submit documentation of the disability in the General Educational Adjustment request process to the Adjustment committee members. This General Educational Adjustment Committee is not part of the SDS office.
- To assist in ensuring confidentiality, all accommodation letters faculty receive from a student in a given semester should be destroyed once the student has completed the course and a grade submitted or if the student officially withdraws from the course.