Bookmark and Share

Documentation Guidelines

It is the responsibility of an individual with a disability to self-disclose to the Disability Services Office (DSO) and to provide documentation if requesting accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Individuals requesting accommodations will need to complete one of the following self-disclosure forms: 

Include documentation of the disability with the disclosure form. Documentation is necessary in order to establish both educationally and legally that there is a disability and to provide a rationale for reasonable accommodations. The documentation should explain the functional impact of the disability.
Accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis during an interactive meeting with the individual. Documentation may be submitted at any time but it is encouraged to submit documentation prior to the beginning of a semester. In order to provide accommodations in a timely manner, requests should be made in a timely manner.
Kutztown University does not do diagnostic testing. Students who desire testing or are referred by a professor or staff member to investigate the possibility of the existence of a disability may be referred by the Disability Services Office to external sources for testing.

Elements of Quality Disability Documentation

1.    The credentials of the evaluator(s).
The best quality 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). 

Documentation should be provided in typed format on 8 ½ x11 letterhead, dated, signed and legible. The name, title and professional credentials of the evaluator should be clearly stated.

2.    A diagnostic statement identifying the disability.
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. While diagnostic codes from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM) or the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) of the World Health Organization are helpful in providing this information, a full clinical description will also convey the necessary information.

3. A description of the diagnostic methodology used.
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. 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. 

4. A description of the current functional limitations.
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. Thorough documentation demonstrates 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).  

While relatively recent documentation is recommended in most circumstances, common sense and discretion in accepting older documentation of conditions that are permanent or non-varying is applied. Likewise, changing conditions and/or changes in how the condition impacts the individual may warrant more frequent updates in order to provide an accurate picture. 

5. A description of the expected progression or stability of the disability.
It is helpful when documentation provides 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.

 6. A description of current and past accommodations, services and/or medications.
The most comprehensive documentation will include a description of both current and past medications, auxiliary aids, assistive devices, support services, and accommodations, including their effectiveness in ameliorating functional impacts of the disability. A discussion of any significant side effects from current medications or services that may impact physical, perceptual, behavioral or cognitive performance is helpful when included in the report. 

7. Recommendations for accommodations, adaptive devices, assistive services, compensatory strategies, and/or collateral support services.
Recommendations from professionals with a history of working with the individual provide valuable information for review and the planning process. It is helpful when recommended accommodations and strategies are logically related to functional limitations. 

8.  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. Documents that reflect education and accommodation history, such as Individual Education Program (IEP), Summary Of Performance (SOP), and teacher observations are accepted. All forms of documentation are meaningful and should be submitted.

Adapted from Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD)

                See Documentation Guidelines for Specific Disabilities