Under IDEA it was the schools’ responsibility to test students and provide documentation and diagnosis of a disability. A post secondary institution has no such responsibility. While some but not all colleges and universities may offer testing services to students for a minimal fee, it is exclusively the responsibility of the student to provide appropriate documentation to the disabilities office verifying the presence and functional impact of the student’s disability.
It is important that the documentation of a disability indicate if the impairment causes a substantial limitation of a major life activity as well as how the functional impact relates to the student’s access to course content. The provision of “all” reasonable accommodations and services is based upon the assessment of the impact of the student’s disabilities on his or her academic performance at a given time in the student’s life. Therefore, it is in the student’s best interest to provide recent and appropriate documentation that validates the need for services based on the individual’s current level of functioning in the educational setting. A school plan such as an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) or 504 plan is insufficient documentation, but it can be included as part of a more comprehensive assessment battery. It is important to recognize that accommodation needs can change over time and are not always identified through the initial diagnostic process. Conversely, a prior history of accommodation does not, in and of itself, warrant the provision of a similar accommodation.
Guidelines for Documentation of a Disability
Connors State College is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for enrolled students with disabilities. Documentation of a disability as it relates to the accommodations you are requesting is required before services are considered, and it must be typed or word-processed and printed on the letterhead of either the practitioner or the agency hosting the practice. Handwritten notes on prescription pads or handwritten treatment records will not be accepted. All documentation is kept confidential.
The documentation provided should address the following:
1. Credentials of the evaluator(s)
Documentation must be provided by a licensed or otherwise properly credentialed professional who has undergone appropriate training, has relevant experience, and who has no personal relationship with the individual being evaluated. There should be a match between the credentials of the individual making the diagnosis and the condition being reported (e.g., an orthopedic disability might be documented by a physician, but not a licensed psychologist).
2. Diagnostic statement identifying the disability
Documentation must include a clear statement of the diagnosis of the disability, along with any diagnostic specifies that address the type, severity, or duration of the condition as applicable.
3. Current functional limitations associated with the disability
Information on how the disabling condition(s) currently impacts the individual’s major life activities. Examples of major life activities are walking, hearing, seeing, concentration, mental status, ability to perform manual tasks, etc. A statement on the severity, frequency and pervasiveness of the condition(s) should be included in this description.
While relatively recent documentation is recommended in most cases, older documentation for chronic, non-progressive disabilities may be accepted. Disabilities with symptoms or features that tend to change over time may warrant more frequent updates in order to provide an ongoing and accurate picture of the individual’s limitations.
4. Expected progression or stability of the disability
Documentation should provide information on expected changes in the functional impact of the disability over time. Information on the cyclical or episodic nature of the disability and known or suspected environmental triggers to periods of exacerbation should be addressed if applicable. Information on interventions (including the individual’s own strategies) for exacerbations and recommended timelines for re-evaluation are helpful when documenting disabilities that may change over time.
5. Description of the diagnostic methodology used
Documentation should include evaluation methods or tests and dates of administration, along with specific results. If appropriate to the nature of the disability, having both summary data and specific test scores (with the norming population identified) within the report is recommended. Diagnostic methods that are congruent with the particular disability and current professional practices in the field are expected.
6. Current medications or treatments and side effects
If applicable, the documentation should include a description of current medications or services used to treat the condition, along with their effectiveness in lessening functional impacts of the disability. A discussion of any significant side effects from current medications or services that may impact physical, perceptual, behavioral or cognitive performance is helpful when included in the report.
* An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is generally not considered sufficient disability documentation. An IEP is a document that a student’s high school has developed to address plans for educational success.