Written documentation that verifies the existence of a disability must be provided to ODSS by each student requesting disability services and accommodations.
The following guidelines for the documentation of a disability are provided in the interest of assuring that evaluation reports are appropriate to (a) document eligibility and (b) support requests for reasonable accommodations and appropriate academic adjustments. Staff from the Office for Disability Services for Students is available to consult with diagnosticians regarding any of these guidelines:
Documentation of a visual impairment should be from an ophthalmologist. It should explain the extent of an individual's visual fields, their degree of visual acuity; whether the condition is stable or progressive, if the condition is considered "low vision" or "blind". The documentation should also include whether visual aids are recommended.
Documentation of a hearing impairment should be a report from an audiologist. This report should include results of an audiogram, will tell the type of hearing loss (either conductive or sensorineural), and the degree of hearing loss.
A diagnostic interview should be conducted at the time of testing. Because learning disabilities are most commonly manifested during childhood, historical information of learning difficulties in elementary, secondary and postsecondary education must be included. An evaluation report must also include a comprehensive diagnostic interview by a qualified evaluator who addresses relevant background information to support the diagnosis.
Testing must be comprehensive. It is not acceptable to administer only one test for the purpose of diagnosis. Minimally, domains to be addressed must include (but are not limited to):
- The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-III (WAIS-III) with subtest scores is the preferred instrument. The Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery-Revised: Tests of Cognitive Ability or the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale: Fourth edition are acceptable.
- Current levels of functioning in reading, mathematics, and written language are required. Acceptable instruments include the Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery- Revised: Tests of Achievement; Stanford Test of Academic Skills (TASK); Scholastic Ability Test for Adults; or specific achievement tests such as The Test of Written Language-2 (TOWL), Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests-Revised, or the Stanford Diagnostic Mathematics Test. The Wide Range Achievement Test is not a comprehensive measure of achievement and therefore, is not suitable as the sole measure of achievement.
- Information processing. Specific areas of information processing (e.g., short and long term memory; sequential memory; auditory and visual perception/processing; processing speed) must be assessed. Use of subtests from the WAIS-R or the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Ability is acceptable.
This is not intended to be an exhaustive list or to restrict assessment in other pertinent areas such as vocational interests and aptitudes.
There must be clear and specific evidence and identification of a learning disability. Individual "learning styles" and "learning differences" in and of themselves do not constitute a learning disability.
Test scores/data should be included.
Professionals conducting assessment and rendering diagnoses of specific learning disabilities must be qualified to do so. Trained and certified and/or licensed psychologists, learning disabilities specialists, and educational therapists may be involved in the process of assessment. Experience working with an adult population is essential.
Diagnostic reports must include the names and titles of the evaluators as well as the date(s) of testing.
Examples of acceptable documentation for a learning disability may include a diagnosis that is recognized under the American Psychiatric Association's DSM-IV criteria; however, other documentation form other sources that shows adequate support for the need for an academic adjustment for a learning disability may also be acceptable.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Documentation of ADHD should be in the form of a report prepared by an appropriate professional (psychiatrist, physician, or psychologist) within the last three years. It should include the following: a clear statement of ADHD with the DSM-IV diagnosis, a description of the symptoms which meet the criteria for the diagnosis, a summary of the assessment procedures and evaluation instruments which were used to make the diagnosis, information about current medication(s), and suggestions for reasonable accommodations which are supported by the diagnosis and the functional limitations of the individual.
Documentation of a mobility impairment should be in the form of a letter from an appropriate health care provider. This letter must: include the type of disability, state the functional limitations based on the disability, specifically state the duration of the functional limitations and any distance limitations, include suggested recommendation for effective, reasonable accommodations, be written by an appropriate health care provider (e.g., physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist depending on the nature of the disability), and be typed on official letterhead and signed by the provider.
Documentation of a psychological disability should be in the form of a letter or a report from a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist. The documentation should include a DSM-IV diagnosis. The documentation should also include the functional limitations brought about by the diagnosis (i.e., difficulties with concentration in individuals diagnosed with depression).
The Office for Disability Services for Students (ODSS) is committed to ensuring that all information regarding a student is maintained as confidential as required or permitted by law. This information may include test data, grades, biographical history, disability information, performance reviews, and case notes.