What Documentation the College Requires
You Need Documentation
institutions require appropriate and timely documentation
of a disability when you seek special considerations in the
admissions process or after enrollment, when you seek appropriate
academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services. This
documentation serves two primary purposes in postsecondary
you have a disability, and therefore protects you from discrimination.
documentation describes the current functional impact of
your disability in order to identify potential appropriate
academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services.
impact of your disabilities on your academic performance forms
the basis for provision of academic adjustments as well as
auxiliary aids and services. Therefore, it is reasonable for
a postsecondary institution to require recent documentation
that establishes this foundation.
Remember that each institution of higher education determines
if you qualify as a student with a disability. The procedures
and requirements to make this determination may vary among
institutions of higher education. Nationally, most institutions
of higher education use guidelines developed by the Association
on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) and the Educational
Testing Service (ETS).
Guidelines for Documentation of a Learning Disability in
Adolescents and Adults, available at www.ahead.org
ETS Disabilities and Testing page has guidelines for documentation
for learning disabilities, ADHD, and psychiatric disabilities.
Available at www.ets.org/disability
What Your Documentation Should Include
of a disability consists of an evaluation by appropriate professionals.
Included should be:
clear statement of the diagnosis
basis for the diagnosis
current impact of the disability as it relates to requests
for appropriate academic adjustments and auxiliary aids
Association for Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) developed
a document that describes best practices for developing and
maintaining consistent, comprehensive and appropriate guidelines
for documenting disabilities and requests for appropriate
academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services. Many
institutions in Virginia and nationally use the AHEAD document
as the framework for their institutional policies.
appropriate to the disability, the documentation should include
the following elements:
diagnostic statement identifying the disability, date of
the most current diagnostic evaluation, and the date of
the original diagnosis
A description of the diagnostic tests, methods, and/or criteria
used, including specific test results (including standardized
testing scores) and the examiner's narrative interpretation
A description of the current functional impact of the disability.
There should be a description of how the individual's identified
impairment substantially limits a major life acitivity.
The description may be a narrative or an interview with
the individual with a disability, but it must demonstrate
a rational relationship to the results of a diagnostic assessment
For learning disabilities, current documentation should
include information from diagnostic assessments using adult
norms to process the data where available or appropriate
A statement indicating treatments, medications, or assistive
devices / services currently prescribed or in use, with
a description of the mediating effects and potential side
effects from such treatments
A description of the anticipated progression or stability
of the disability over time, particularly the next five
A history of previous academic adjustments and auxiliary
aids and services and their impact
The credentials of the professional(s), if not clear from
the letterhead or other forms
Diagnosing professionals shall not be family members or
others with a close personal relationship with the individual
Documentation prepared for specific non-educational venues
(i.e., Social Security Administration, Department of Veteran's
Affairs, etc.) may not meet these criteria
An IEP or a 504 plan is usually not sufficient documentation,
unless it includes adequate documentation of the current
impact of the disability
make decisions concerning academic adjustments and auxiliary
aids and services on an individual basis (with the student)
and consider the impact of a particular student's disability
within the context in which the student must function.
Beyond the more objective determination of a disability and
its impact provided by external documentation, institutions
recognize that input from the student is also a rich and important
source of information on the impact of the disability and
on the effectiveness of requested academic adjustments and
auxiliary aids and services.
It is essential to consult with each individual institution
and obtain its particular documentation policy for individuals
How to Obtain Appropriate Documentation
acceptance to college through the regular admissions process,
contact the disability services office at the institution
you plan to attend to discuss documentation needs and future
plans. If additional documentation is required, ask the college
for assistance in identifying a qualified evaluator.
an evaluator who has experience working with adults with
your disability, and who has worked with the service provider
at the institution you plan to attend.
forthcoming, thorough, and honest with information about
your disability and its impact in the learning environment.
the results and recommendations with the evaluator, and
request a written copy of the final report.
a personal file of your records and reports.
the college or university a reasonable amount of time
to evaluate the documentation and arrange for the appropriate
academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services.
from Virginia's College Guide for Students with Disabilities