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Guidelines for Disability Documentation

The Office of Accessible Education (OAE) requires students who are seeking accommodation on the basis of disability to provide documentation from a qualified medical professional that describes the disability/health condition and the functional impacts of the disability/health condition. Documentation needs to be recent and relevant to the post-secondary academic setting. Documentation is evaluated by professional staff and used to both verify the disability and complement self-report of lived experience while determining appropriate academic accommodations. All student cases are assessed individually.

Those whose disabilities are diagnosable only through extensive psychoeducational testing (i.e. learning disorders) are encouraged to submit their last (most recent) psychoeducational assessment despite the documentation being out of a typical range of recency (“outdated”) as they may be eligible for accommodations services, even if it’s on a provisional basis while relevant and appropriate documentation is obtained. Students who have readily observable disabilities (e.g. wheelchair user, white cane user) in some cases may not need to submit documentation. 

A member of the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) can meet with students’ to answer questions they may have about documentation.  However, the following guidelines are provided to assist students in submitting documentation to OAE:

 

  • Documentation must be within four years to be valid.
  • Documentation must be done by a qualified professional on letterhead, with the name, address and phone number of the professional that is issuing the report.
  • Documentation must include a statement of impact and/or functional limitations on student’s academic performance and/or college life in general.
  • Documentation must include a statement of any recommendations/strategies that would benefit the student and a rationale for these recommendations. It should also describe any previously approved services or accommodations the student has received.
  • Testing for ADD/ADHD must be done by a professional who is qualified to make the diagnosis, such as psychologists, neurologists or psychiatrists.
  • The diagnosis should be based upon an in-depth history based on a chronic and pervasive history of symptoms beginning during childhood and still persisting, student and family interviews, testing, medical or neurological examination, and/or clinical observation. Evidence of this history must be included in the report.
  • Reference should be made to published criteria, such as DSM-IV or DSM-5.
  • Documentation should evaluate the impact of both the diagnosed condition and the student’s functional-educational limitations in the academic environment.
  • Documentation should include the impact of any medications the student may be taking.
  • Documentation must be within four years to be valid.
  • Documentation must be done by a qualified professional on letterhead, with the name, address and phone number of the professional that is issuing the report.
  • Documentation must include a statement of impact and/or functional limitations on student’s academic performance and/or college life in general.
  • Documentation must include a statement of any recommendations/strategies that would benefit the student and a rationale for these recommendations. It should also describe any previously approved services or accommodations the student has received.
  • Verification must be made by the most recent physician or primary care person (unless original diagnosis is available).
  • Specific diagnosis and any sub-categories must be noted.
  • Current medications, dosage frequency and any side effects must be noted.
  • Note student’s functional limitations with regard to academic performance in a college setting.
  • Documentation must be within four years to be valid.
  • Documentation must be done by a qualified professional on letterhead, with the name, address and phone number of the professional that is issuing the report.
  • Documentation must include a statement of impact and/or functional limitations on student’s academic performance and/or college life in general.
  • Documentation must include a statement of any recommendations/strategies that would benefit the student and a rationale for these recommendations. It should also describe any previously approved services or accommodations the student has received.
  • Verification must be made by the most recent physician or primary care person (unless original diagnosis is available).
  • Specific diagnosis and extent of impairment needs to be noted.
  • What, if anything, can the student hear?
  • Documentation must be within four years to be valid.
  • Documentation must be done by a qualified professional on letterhead, with the name, address and phone number of the professional that is issuing the report.
  • Documentation must include a statement of impact and/or functional limitations on student’s academic performance and/or college life in general.
  • Documentation must include a statement of any recommendations/strategies that would benefit the student and a rationale for these recommendations. It should also describe any previously approved services or accommodations the student has received.
  • Testing for learning disabilities must be done by a qualified professional such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, learning disabilities specialist, or educational therapist or educational psychologist.
  • Diagnosis – please give a DSM-IV or DSM-5 diagnosis of a specific learning disability and area of deficit whether intra-cognitive or aptitude to achievement or both. The diagnosis must be in specific learning disabilities psycho-educational language.
  • What instruments and assessments were used for both cognitive and achievement testing? Please list the names and portions of those instruments used. Also list all psycho-metric testing results (standard scores and percentile scores).
  • Documentation must be within four years to be valid.
  • Documentation must be done by a qualified professional on letterhead, with the name, address and phone number of the professional that is issuing the report.
  • Documentation must include a statement of impact and/or functional limitations on student’s academic performance and/or college life in general.
  • Documentation must include a statement of any recommendations/strategies that would benefit the student and a rationale for these recommendations. It should also describe any previously approved services or accommodations the student has received.
  • Specific diagnosis and any sub-categories must be noted.
  • Current medications, dosage frequency and any side effects must be noted.
  • Documentation must be within four years to be valid.
  • Documentation must be done by a qualified professional on letterhead, with the name, address and phone number of the professional that is issuing the report.
  • Documentation must include a statement of impact and/or functional limitations on student’s academic performance and/or college life in general.
  • Documentation must include a statement of any recommendations/strategies that would benefit the student and a rationale for these recommendations. It should also describe any previously approved services or accommodations the student has received.
  • Note last contact with student or statement of continuing contact.
  • Give specific diagnosis with corresponding DSM-IV or DSM-5 code.
  • Note current medications (and dosage frequency) with possible side effects.

Documentation and Accommodation Decisions

While physicians and/or other evaluators may submit recommendations regarding accommodations, the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) professional staff who are familiar with the educational environment at Santa Clara University determine the extent to which the recommended accommodations are appropriate in this context.  In short, the evaluator’s recommendations provide helpful information but are not binding. If in the judgment of the OAE, there is insufficient diagnostic or clinical information in support of the requested accommodations, students may be asked to submit new and/or additional documentation.

OAE also have the discretion to determine what type of professional documentation is necessary, and this may vary depending on the nature and extent of the disability and the accommodation requested. Appropriate accommodations are determined following an individualized assessment of each request and discussion with one of the OAE's staff.  Among the factors considered in determining appropriate accommodations for students are:

  • The nature of the student's disability;
  • Accommodations that have worked for that student in the past;
  • Whether the requested accommodations will allow the student to effectively access and participate in the course or program;
  • Whether the requested accommodations will alter the essential requirements of the course or program.

For episodic conditions, the following factors are also considered 

  • Symptoms experienced during an episode;  
  • Frequency and duration of episodes;
  • Triggers and warning symptoms of onset;
  • Care plan for management.

The University is not required to alter or modify a course or program to the extent that it changes the fundamental nature of that course or program.  Although most accommodations are decided upon and provided by the OAE, some accommodation decisions are made in collaboration with program/school administrators and relevant faculty. The receipt of services at a previous educational environment does not automatically guarantee identical services will be provided at Santa Clara University.

 

OAE purges student files after five (5) years of inactivity in the Santa Clara University system.