Documentation Guidelines

Documentation of any disability must include the following eight elements in order to be considered acceptable by the ARC:

  1. The evaluation must be conducted by a qualified professional.

Acceptable documentation is provided by a licensed or otherwise properly credentialed professional who has undergone appropriate and comprehensive training, has relevant experience, and has no personal relationship with the individual being evaluated. A good match between the credentials of the individual making the diagnosis and the condition being reported is expected (e.g., an orthopedic limitation might be documented by a physician, but not a licensed psychologist). The name, title and professional credentials of the evaluator, including information about license or certification (e.g., licensed psychologist), the area of specialization, employment, and state/province in which the individual practices should be clearly stated in the documentation.

  1. The documentation must be current.

Generally, documentation must be no more than 3 years old or conducted no more than 3 years prior to the student’s admission to the university. There are some variations for different disabilities, but all documentation must reflect the student’s current condition, limitations, and needs.

An Individualized Educational Program (IEP) or 504 Plan does not constitute sufficient documentation for any disability.

  1. A diagnostic statement identifying the disability must be included.

Quality documentation includes a clear diagnostic statement that describes how the condition was diagnosed, provides information on the functional impact, and details the typical progression or prognosis of the condition. Diagnostic terminology from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual – Fourth Edition (DSM-V TR) of the American Psychiatric Association or the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) of the World Health Organization must be used in the report.

  1.  A description of the diagnostic methodology used must be included.

Quality documentation includes a description of the diagnostic criteria, evaluation methods, procedures, tests and dates of administration, as well as a clinical narrative, observation, and specific results. Where 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 recommended. Methods may include formal instruments, medical examinations, structured interview protocols, performance observations and unstructured interviews.

  1.  A description of the current functional limitations must be included.

Information on how the disabling condition(s) currently impacts the individual provides useful information for both establishing a disability and identifying possible accommodations. A combination of the results of formal evaluation procedures, clinical narrative, and the individual’s self report is the most comprehensive approach to fully documenting impact. The best quality documentation is thorough enough to demonstrate whether and how a major life activity is substantially limited by providing a clear sense of the severity, frequency, and pervasiveness of the condition(s).

  1. A description of the expected progression or stability of the disability must be included.

Documentation should provide information on expected changes in the functional impact of the disability over time and context. Information on the cyclical or episodic nature of the disability and known or suspected environmental triggers to episodes provides opportunities to anticipate and plan for varying functional impacts. If the condition is not stable, information on interventions (including the individual’s own strategies) for exacerbations and recommended timelines for re-evaluation are helpful.

  1. A description of current and past accommodations, services, and/or medications should be included.

Comprehensive documentation will include a description of both current and past medications, interventions, auxiliary aids, assistive devices, support services, and accommodations, including their effectiveness in ameliorating functional impacts of the disability. While accommodations provided in another setting are not binding on the current institution, they may provide insight in making current decisions.

  1. Recommendations for accommodations, adaptive devices, assistive services, compensatory strategies, and/or collateral support services should be included.

The report should include specific recommendations for accommodations that are reasonable to meet the individual’s needs. When possible, a detailed explanation of the clinical rationale for each accommodation is recommended. Further, the rationale should be associated with specific functional limitations determined through the testing, interview, and/or observation.

Documentation guidelines for specific disabilities are included at Appendix B.

ARC may request additional documentation from students if the determination of a disability is inconclusive, if the documentation does not support the accommodations requested, and/or if the documentation is otherwise deemed incomplete or unacceptable.

In the case of incomplete or unacceptable documentation, ARC may decide to provide provisional accommodations, determined on an individualized or case-by-case basis, not to exceed one semester in length.