Documentation Guidelines

Students requesting a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) must provide the following information to the Office of Disability Access (ODA) from his or her physician, educational diagnostician, licensed psychologist, psychiatrist, or other qualified professional. Documentation received will be considered, in addition to the student's narrative, in determining the disability-related barriers caused by the educational environment. 

Optimal documentation includes a description of current functional limitations and is thorough enough to demonstrate whether and how a major life activity is substantially limited by providing a clear sense of the severity, frequency and pervasiveness of the condition(s). While relatively recent documentation is recommended in most circumstances, accepting older documentation of conditions that are permanent or non-varying is at the discretion of the ODA Case Management and Accommodation Review (CMAR) Committee. Likewise, changing conditions and/or changes in how the condition impacts the individual brought on by growth and development may warrant more frequent updates in order to provide an accurate picture. It is important to remember that documentation is not time-bound; the need for recent documentation depends on the facts and circumstances of the individual’s condition. In most cases, documentation should be current within the past 3- 5 years; however, some documentation that is older may also be relevant. In some cases, previous or more recent documentation may be requested to draw connections between the student’s current condition and the accommodation being requested. 

To simplify the process the following PDF forms may be used for some types of disabilities or a formal letter may be created as long as it contains all of the elements listed below: 

In addition to the ODA's Documentation Form, Documentation can be submitted in other formats such as:   

  • A letter, on official letterhead, written by a qualified healthcare provider 

  • A visit summary, discharge papers, or other medical summaries  

Documentation of a Learning Disability
 

Documentation of a learning disability (dyslexia, writing disorders, math disorders etc.) may not be completed using a form or letter. Psychological testing will be required, and students needing accommodation for learning disabilities should make an appointment with an ODA Coordinator prior to seeking additional documentation or testing. 

The information provided should include: 

  • Specific, detailed diagnosis for each physical or mental impairment, substantiated by DSM-IV (for psychological) or ICD-10 (for medical) designation. 

  • Statement as to if whether each physical or mental impairment is permanent or temporary; if temporary, the expected duration of the impairment. 

  • Information as to how each physical or mental impairment directly and currently affects the individual with regard to physical, emotional, cognitive or other limitations, to what level of severity the physical or mental impairment impacts the individual's major life activities (for an example, walking, hearing, seeing, learning, communicating, breathing, and so forth). 

  • What impact does the physical or mental impairment have in the context of the classroom/learning environment? 

  • How are the impairments mitigated, corrected, or managed by assistive devices (such as hearing aid, walker) medications, treatments or other coping mechanisms? 

  • Specific recommendations as to what reasonable accommodations (such as extended testing time, sign language interpreter, etc.) are necessary for equal access in the academic environment. 

  • If client is taking medication for treatment of conditions, note any possible or existing side effects and how these can affect the client in daily functioning and within the classroom environment. 

Only upon receipt of documentation will the student be considered for reasonable accommodation. Documentation will be viewed in both a historical and current context, but providing documentation does not automatically qualify students for services through ODA. For example, some educational diagnostic reports (such as IEPs, Admission Review Dismissal (ARD) reports and 504 Plans) and medical reports (physician's release to return to work) are not considered independently sufficient in determining reasonable accommodation, but will be considered with other supporting documents. 

Documentation should be submitted on office letterhead with the signature and credentials of qualified professional. Once ODA receives the documentation, it becomes part of the student's educational record and is protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). 

Any questions from the physician/diagnostician may be directed to an ODA Coordinator at (940) 565-4323 or fax (940) 369-7969.