Any WSU student who requests an accommodation due to a disability is required to establish eligibility through Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD). An essential component to establishing eligibility is documentation. SSD has provided a brief form which summarizes our “Documentation Guidelines”. This form is availably for download from this site or it may be picked up from any SSD office. The following informatoin expands upon that document in order to help students (and others) fully understand our documentation requirements.
Disability documentation must establish (diagnose) a disability and provide information on the functional impact of the disability.
Documentation should provide a basic understanding of a student’s disability and enough information to anticipate how the current impact of the disability in the environment of higher education. In short, how will any limitations associated with the disability impact the structure of individual courses, testing, program requirements, educational activities, practicum experiences, etc.?
Required Elements for Documentation of a Disability
Documentation should be provided by a licensed (or otherwise appropriately credentialed) individual. SSD staff must be able to establish said credentials. It is also reasonable to expect the credentials of the diagnostician to be related to the type of condition, disability or disorder being diagnosed.
A full diagnosis statement should:
- Identify the disability, including DSM or ICF diagnostic codes, and provide a full clinical description.
- Include a description of the criteria, evaluation methods, procedures, and tests used to make the diagnosis, including dates, observations, and specific results. Possible diagnostic methods include formal instruments, medical exams, structured or unstructured interviews, objective performance measures, and observational data.
- Describe the typical progression of the disability, such as the expected changes in the functional impact over time. If the condition is not stable, provide information on interventions (such as medications or therapy) and the anticipated or potential impact on the disability over time. Provide a time-line for re-evaluation where appropriate.
- Describe any current and past accommodations, auxiliary aids, assistive devices, support services, treatments, and medications. Please include an evaluation of the effectiveness of such strategies where possible. Also specify any potential or observed side-effects of any medication or treatment. Note: Accommodation provided at previous institutions or in any other setting are not necessarily binding upon WSU.
Information on how the disability currently impacts the student is integral to identifying appropriate accommodations. Provide clear details on how a major life activity is substantially limited by the disability, focusing on such activities which may pertain to a educational environment. While self-reported data is valuable, it should be substantiated and supported with less subjective methods (formal evaluation, clinical narrative, medical data, etc.) Provide a clear sense of the severity, frequency and pervasiveness of the disability. Any available information on the episodic nature of the disability and possible environmental triggers or stressors will help to determine appropriate accommodations and anticipate any academic impact.
While previous accommodations may not always be appropriate to WSU or a specific course, recommendations from professionals with a history of working with the student are always helpful. An exhaustive list of “possible” accommodations is rarely informative; it is essential for recommended accommodations and strategies to be logically related to functional limitations. Include adaptive devices, assistive services, compensatory strategies, and/or collateral support services.
SSD requires all documentation to be timely and relevant to the student’s current functional limitations.
This material is based upon the Association on Higher Education & Disability's Best Practices. Further information is available at AHEAD.org