Documentation Guidelines

Sources and Forms of Documentation

Acceptable sources of documentation for substantiating a student’s disability and request for particular accommodations can take a variety of forms. The Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity believes that students are the experts on their experience and are the primary source of information regarding their disability/ies and preferred accommodations. Information from external sources, and the expertise of Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity staff are also part of the process for determining accommodations.

In most cases, the intake interview and supporting documentation will be required to determine reasonable accommodations.

Please note that students who will utilize accommodations for licensure exams will be required to provide specific documentation for testing accommodations. Students are responsible for determining the required documentation for such exams, and are encouraged to work with the Center for Accessiblity and Learning Equity to develop a plan to ensure appropriate documentation for such exams.

The student is a vital source of information regarding how he or she may be “limited by impairment. A student’s narrative of his or her experience of disability, barriers, and effective and ineffective accommodations is an important tool which, when structured by interview or questionnaire and interpreted, may be sufficient for establishing disability and a need for accommodation.

Students seeking accommodations should schedule an intake appointment via Navigate or by emailing the office at [email protected].

Documentation from external sources may include educational or medical records, reports and assessments created by health care providers, school psychologists, teachers, or the educational system. This information is inclusive of documents that reflect education and accommodation history, such as Individual Education Program (IEP), Summary Of Performance (SOP), and teacher observations. External documentation will vary in its relevance and value depending on the original context, credentials of the evaluator, the level of detail provided, and the comprehensiveness of the narrative. Generally speaking, an IEP or 504 plan alone is not sufficient to establish accommodations in college.

The Disability Verification Form provides an overview of diagnosis, functional limitations, and recommended accommodations.

Students who have, or suspect they have, a psychological disability (major depression, ADHD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.) should work with a licensed mental health provider to undergo psychological assessment. Such assessments are provided to Spalding University students at no additional cost and can be scheduled by emailing [email protected].

Students should plan to provide a psychological assessment that is no more than three years old. Accommodations are granted on the functional limitations associated with a disability(ies), not the disability itself, therefore assessment guides appropriate accomodation, even if a diagnosis is not likely to change.

Documentation Process

The rationale for seeking information about a student’s condition is to support the Center for Accessibility and Learning Equity in establishing disability, understanding how disability may impact a student, and making informed decisions about accommodations. Professional judgment is an essential component of this process. Students may be asked to provide additional information once the process is underway.

ADHD: Typical symptoms of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in a college environment include difficulty managing multiple and competing deadlines for long-term projects, following through on goals and intentions, and making good judgments about how to spend one’s time. Trouble working within an unstructured environment, completing tests quickly, and focusing during classroom lectures are also markers of ADHD in the college setting. Frustration with achieving expectations can create feelings of depression or anxiety. Use of alcohol, medications, and/or illegal substances can be problematic for a student who already has trouble with impulse control or mood management.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD): is a neurological and developmental disorder that begins early in childhood and lasts throughout a person’s life. It affects how a person acts and interacts with others, communicates, and learns. It includes what used to be known as Asperger syndrome, Asperger’s disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder. It is referred to as a “spectrum” because ASD can present in many different ways, with varying degrees of impact.

Chronic Medical/Health Disability: Physical disorders are typically grouped into general categories: neurological, musculoskeletal, and severe, chronic medical conditions. Such medical conditions may include but are not limited to, diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, HIV or AIDS, cystic fibrosis, food allergies, multiple sclerosis, and muscular dystrophy.

Hearing Disability: students who are deaf or experience hearing loss may be considered disabled if their condition significantly impairs one’s functioning in the major life activity of hearing.

Psychological/Psychiatric Disabilities: Psychiatric disorders represent severe mental and emotional distress that significantly hinders a student’s ability to cope with the stresses of daily living and academic life. Psychiatric disorders may impair concentration, energy, memory, and the ability to process information, and schoolwork may be compromised. Such conditions may include but are not limited to, major depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia.

Learning Disabilities (LD): refer to a significant difficulty in a specific area of learning (reading, writing, math, nonverbal), despite strengths in other areas. Learning Disabilities are persistent throughout life, but may manifest differently depending on the learning demands, academic setting, or the use of compensatory strategies. Getting a clear picture of one’s learning disability contributes to improving strategies for meeting one’s goals, creating achievable plans, and reducing frustration from unexplained difficulties that persist even when a student is giving his or her best effort.

Speech Disability: such as speech impediments and disorders. Speech and language disorders refer to problems in communication and related areas, such as oral-motor function. These delays and disorders range from simple sound substitutions to the inability to understand or use language or use the oral-motor mechanism for functional speech.

Visual Disability: visual impairments may be considered disabilities if they significantly impair one’s functioning in the major life activity of seeing, and are not mitigated by glasses or lenses.

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