Student Accessibility Documentation Guidelines

Student Accessibility Services uses documentation of disability to 1) establish whether an individual is a person with a disability and 2) provide a rationale for identifying and implementing reasonable accommodations. Documentation should be sent directly to Student Accessibility Services and not included with the application for admission. If documentation submitted is deemed inadequate or incomplete to determine the extent of the disability and/or reasonable accommodations, additional documentation may be requested at the discretion of the Coordinator of Student Accessibility Services. University of Mary will work with the student to make referrals to community resources that may help them obtain any needed documentation. The student is responsible for any costs associated with obtaining additional documentation.

Student Accessibility Services has incorporated the Association of Higher Education and Disability’s (AHEAD) “Seven Elements of Quality Disability Documentation (2004) and “Sources and Forms of Documentation” (2012) in its criteria for documentation guidelines.

Formal evaluation procedures, clinical narratives, and the individual's self-report will be used to determine appropriate and reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. Decisions are made on a case by case basis.

DISABILITY DOCUMENTATION SHOULD INCLUDE:

  • A clear diagnostic statement that describes the specific condition. Dates of the original and current diagnostic evaluations need to be included.

Documentation for psychological disorders must include a specific diagnosis based on DSM-V or ICD-10 diagnostic criteria.

  • A description of the diagnostic methodology, criteria, evaluation methods, tests, assessments, clinical narrative, observations, and specific results, along with dates administered, that are congruent with the particular disability. Tests used should be current and appropriate for the age of the student at the time of registration.

Documentation for learning disabilities must include scores and interpretation of norm-referenced assessments of aptitude, achievement, and, when possible, information processing.

Documentation for ADHD must include scores and interpretation of norm-referenced behavioral rating scales.

  • A description of the current functional limitations and how those limitations affect the student in a major life activity. A “functional limitation” is defined as an adverse effect on a major life activity caused by the disability. Functional limitations should be described in terms of how significantly the activity is affected by the disability, the frequency with which the activity is affected, and how pervasive the disability is in the performance of the major life activity. For example, if the student is applying for classroom accommodations, documentation should address limitations related to the academic environment.
  • A description of current and past accommodations, services, and/or medications and their effectiveness in relation to the functional impact of the disability. Information about any significant side effects from current treatment or medication and its effect on physical, perceptual, behavioral, and cognitive performance is helpful.
  • A description of the expected progression or stability of the disability including the expected changes over time, information on the cyclical or episodic nature of the disability and any known suspected environmental triggers.
  • The credentials of the evaluator/provider relevant to the diagnosed disability. The professional should be licensed or otherwise properly credentialed, have appropriate and comprehensive training, relevant experience, and have no personal relationship with the individual being evaluated or diagnosed.  Documentation from professionals who render a diagnosis outside of their area of expertise will not be considered in support of an accommodation. Comprehensive documentation may include reports from several professionals or a team. Evaluations and diagnoses from family members, even when the family member is a qualified professional, will not be accepted.

Although not required, professionals are invited to make recommendations for accommodations, adaptive devices, assistive services, compensatory strategies, and/or support services and a rationale related to the functional limitation(s). However, Student Accessibility Services is under no obligation to provide or adopt recommendations made by outside entities. A prior history of an accommodation, without a demonstration of a current need, does not in and of itself warrant the provision of a like accommodation. 

Reasonable accommodations are determined based on the current functioning of the individual. This cannot be determined without recent documentation. All instruments used by an examiner must be the most recent version at the time of testing to be considered current. Documentation is usually considered “current” if it is within the past three years, however, the age of acceptable documentation is dependent upon the disabling condition, the current status of the student, and the student’s request for accommodations. The Coordinator of Student Accessibility Services may use discretion in the following cases:

(a) documentation greater than three years old when it involves a permanent condition; or

(b) conditions that will warrant more current documentation and/or more frequent updates in order to reflect a student’s level of functioning most accurately. In cases where the disability is long-term, comprehensive documentation may be submitted that is older but a recent evaluation update by the treating professional is required to address the student’s current levels of functioning.

In some circumstances it may be warranted to provide accommodations on a provisional basis; for example, if it has been established that a student has a disability but adequate documentation has not been received to establish the student’s current level of functioning. Such decisions are made at the discretion of the Coordinator of Student Accessibility Services on a case-by-case basis.

Accommodations that result in a fundamental or substantial alteration of the essential characteristics or nature of the educational program will not be approved. University of Mary has the right to establish qualifications and other essential standards and requirements for its courses, programs, activities, and services. All students are expected to meet these essential qualifications, standards and requirements, with or without reasonable accommodations.