Disability Documentation Guidelines for Accommodation Requests

Documentation Guidelines

You must submit documentation to support the requested accommodations based on the disability.

Acceptable Documentation

N.B. Disability Support Services reserves the right to determine who is qualified to assess a disability and may request documentation to verify professional qualifications. In general, documentation should include the following:

  • Documentation should be typed and on letterhead that includes the name, credentials, and contact information of the evaluator
  • Clear and specific statement of diagnosis and degree of functional limitation on one or more major life activities
  • A summary of a comprehensive diagnostic interview that addresses relevant educational, medical, and family histories.
  • A comprehensive assessment battery addressing aptitude and academic achievement. A narrative summary and actual scores from the tests and subtests must support the diagnosis.
  • A description of the history & current impact and/or limitations that the student’s disabling condition has on learning, academic performance, and other aspects of functioning with regard to the accommodations that are being requested.
Unacceptable for Documentation

The following items, though they may be used as supporting information, are NOT considered acceptable documentation in support of a disability or need for accommodations:

  • Prescription pad diagnosis
  • Phrasing such as “appears”, “suggests”, is consistent with”, “has a problem with” or similar wording in diagnosis statement or summary
  • Transcripts from previous institutions
  • Accommodation letter from another institution
Compliance

Arcadia University complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Compliance with these guidelines usually prevents the necessity for further testing; however, the University reserves the right to review the diagnosis and to require additional documentation. More specific guidelines, including verification of disability forms as well as information regarding sources where evaluations can be obtained locally are available from the DSS staff. Students are encouraged to meet with DSS staff if they have any questions regarding documentation.

Documentation Recommendations

By Type of Disability

Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)

Documentation must be made by a physician, psychiatrist, or licensed clinical psychologist qualified to test and diagnose ADHD. The documentation must be current and preferably no more than three years old at the time you enroll at Arcadia University. The assessment report must specifically diagnose ADHD, in accordance with the criteria set forth by the DSM-V. The report should also include evidence of early and current impairment; rule out alternative diagnoses or explanations for the condition; the results of relevant tests, a statement of the functional impact of the disability on learning or other major life activities; and recommended accommodations and a rationale for each. An ADHD Verification form, completed by the appropriate professional, can be submitted in addition or in lieu of other documentation.

Learning Disabilities

Documentation must be from a professional who is qualified and licensed to test and diagnose specific learning disabilities. The documentation must be current and preferably no more than three years old at the time you enroll at Arcadia University. The assessment report must specifically diagnose a learning disability, and must include the actual test scores from standardized instruments including a test of intelligence and a test of achievement; an assessment of information processing abilities; a statement of the functional impact of the disability on learning or other major life activities; and recommended accommodations with a rationale for each.

Hearing Impairment

Documentation must be from a physician or an audiologist who is qualified to test, diagnose and treat hearing disorders. Documentation should be current, preferably, no more than three years old at the time of enrollment. The assessment report must include the following: a diagnosis of hearing loss, a summary of diagnostic instruments and evaluation procedures used and their findings, medical information relating to the student’s needs and hearing status (including use of hearing aids, when appropriate); and a statement of the functional impact of the hearing loss on learning or other major life activities.

Physical Impairment and Medically-related Disabilities

Documentation must be from the physician who is qualified to make the diagnosis and directs treatment of the disability. Documentation should be current, preferably no more than three years old at the time of enrollment. The assessment report must include the following: a statement of the medical diagnosis with a description of present symptoms, a summary of diagnostic instruments and evaluation procedures used and their findings, medical information relating to the student’s needs (including the impact of medication, when appropriate); and a statement of the functional impact of the disability on learning or other major life activities. A Verification of Physical/Medically-related Disability form, completed by the appropriate professional, can be submitted in addition or in lieu of other documentation.

Visual Impairment

Documentation must be from a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist. Documentation should be current, preferably no more than three years old at the time of enrollment. The assessment report must include the following: a statement of the vision-related disability with a description of present symptoms, a summary of diagnostic instruments and evaluation procedures used and their findings, medical information relating to the student’s needs and vision status, and a statement of the functional impact of the visual disability on learning or other major life activities.

Psychiatric/Psychological Disabilities

Documentation must be from a mental health professional, preferably a psychiatrist or licensed clinical psychologist who is qualified and licensed to test and diagnose such disorders. Documentation must be current and preferably no more than three years old at the time of enrollment and must make a specific diagnosis in accordance with the criteria set forth by the DSM-V. Documentation must include a summary of the assessment procedures and instruments used, with evaluation results and standardized test scores if applicable; medical and medication information reflecting the student’s strengths and needs; a statement of the functional impact of the disability on learning or other major life activities; and recommended accommodations with a rationale for each. Documentation should be updated annually. A Verification of Psychiatric/Psychological Disabilities form, completed by the appropriate professional, can be submitted in addition or in lieu of other documentation.

Emotional Support Animal Requests

An emotional support animal (ESA) provides comfort to a person with a psychiatric/psychological disability. They are distinguishable from service animals in that they are not trained to perform specific tasks that assist an individual with a disability. An ESA can be requested as a housing accommodation by students who have identified themselves as having a disability and who have registered with Disability Support Services (Steps for Registering).

Documentation should consist of a signed letter on professional letterhead from the resident’s treating, licensed mental health provider. The documentation must outline the disability and appropriately support the need for an ESA. At minimum, the documentation must include the following:  

  • The provider’s professional opinion that the resident’s condition qualifies as a disability and the basis for that opinion.
  • The provider’s opinion that the ESA is required to help alleviate symptoms associated with the resident’s disability to maintain psychological stability and to allow the person to participate in university housing services.
  • A description of the comfort that the animal will provide.

An ESA Verification form can be submitted in addition or in lieu of other documentation. Disability Support Services may provide you with this verification form. The diagnosing professional must have expertise in the differential diagnosis of the documented mental disorder or condition and follow established practices in the field. Professional licensure information of the provider, including state(s) where the provider is licensed must be provided. Please note that Pennsylvania law requires that practitioners be licensed in this state in order to treat PA residents. For the purposes of this documentation, practitioners must be licensed either in Pennsylvania or in the student’s home state, if that is where the treatment is occurring. DSS reserves the right to contact the provider for additional information if submitted documentation is inadequate. Please note the DSS may ask for updated documentation for future ESA requests to demonstrate the continued need.