Student Accessibility Documentation Guidelines
Student Accessibility Services uses documentation of disability to 1) establish 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 the 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 Student Accessibility Services. The 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 documentation.
Student Accessibility Services looks to the National Association of Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) for direction regarding disability eligibility. This includes who is entitled to accommodations, how those determinations are made, and by whom. The AHEAD guidance interprets the Amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with the stated purpose “to make it easier for people with disabilities to obtain protection under the ADA”.
Documentation to support a request for classroom accommodations may take a variety of forms, formal and informal. It is part of an interactive, deliberative process to gather evidence to establish disability and identify barriers to learning with connection to the disability. It may include, but not be limited to, student self-report, history of having used accommodations, observation, and interaction with Student Accessibility Services professionals, and records from medical and educational professionals.
Federal legislation acknowledges that postsecondary institutions may request a reasonable level of documentation to support specific accommodation requests without requiring extensive evidence from medical/psychological professionals. The goal of documentation is to support a student’s request for a specific accommodation in cases where other attempts to find evidence of a disability/disabilities fail to show a connection between the disability/disabilities and the accommodation.
- Although it is 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.
- In some circumstances, it may be warranted to provide accommodations on a provisional basis. An example would be if it has been established that a student has a disability but there is inadequate documentation 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. The 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.
- Certifying or licensing exams (e.g. Praxis, NCLEX, LSW, or PE) have specific documentation requirements unique to their respective governing bodies. Student Accessibility Services staff can assist students with identifying the required documentation when applying for testing accommodations. However, it is the student’s responsibility to obtain the required documentation for the exam. It is recommended to start the accommodation request process early to ensure the student has fulfilled the application and documentation requirements.