To qualify for services and/or accommodations from Disability Support Services, the student is required to provide documentation that adequately verifies the nature and extent of the disability and must clearly substantiate the need for service and/or accommodation. It is important that the documentation clearly establishes that the student has a disability as defined by Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act and that the documentation clearly supports the individual's request for accommodation. If the original documentation is incomplete or inadequate to determine the extent of the disability or reasonable accommodation, the college has the discretion to require additional documentation. Any cost incurred in obtaining additional documentation when the original records are inadequate or a second professional opinion is necessary is borne by the student.
Prior documentation may have been useful in determining appropriate services at secondary schools. However, documentation must validate the need for services based on the candidate's current level of functioning in the educational setting. A school plan such as an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 Plan is insufficient documentation in and of itself but can be included as part of a more comprehensive assessment battery. A comprehensive assessment battery and the resulting diagnostic report must include a diagnostic interview, assessment of aptitude, measure of academic achievement, and information processing.
Upon making a request for accommodations and providing the required documentation to Disability Support Services, students will be provided with information about how to access the accommodations identified for their use.
While submitted documentation may meet guidelines and be deemed acceptable to MacMurray College, it is important to be aware that it may or may not meet the documentation guidelines required in another academic institution or testing organization.
The following documentation guidelines are provided in the interest of ensuring that documentation of a disability demonstrates a significant impact on major life activity and supports the individual's request for accommodation.
- Evaluation by Qualified Professional
- Current Documentation
- Substantiating Disability
- Specific Guidelines for Documentation of Certain Disabilities
Evaluation by Qualified Professional
An evaluation must be conducted by a qualified professional. Professionals conducting assessment should have appropriate training in diagnosing physical impairments. The name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator, including information about license or certification, should be clearly stated in the documentation. All reports should be on letterhead, dated, signed, and otherwise legible.
Disabilities and their respective qualified professionals may include
- pervasive developmental disorders (includes Autism Spectrum Disorders, Asperger's Disorder, and others) — psychologist, clinical psychologists, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, and other relevantly certified medical doctors;
- Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) — psychologists, neurologists, psychiatrists, clinical or educational psychologists, or relevantly certified medical doctors;
- head injury/traumatic brain injury — psychologist, neuropsychologist, or rehabilitation specialist in brain injury;
- hearing disability — audiologist, otologist, or otorhinolaryngologist;
- learning disability — psychologist, learning disabilities specialist, educational therapist, or neuropsychologist;
- mobility disability — physician, neurologist, or physiatrist;
- psychiatric/psychological disabilities — psychiatrists, psychologist, clinical psychologist, or neuropsychologists;
- vision disability — ophthalmologist, optometrist, or neurologist.
The provision of accommodations is based upon assessment of the current impact of the student's disabilities. Documentation that is outdated or inadequate in scope or content, does not address the student's current level of functioning, or does not address changes in the student's performance since the previous assessment was conducted may not support requested accommodations. When appropriate, additional supportive documentation will be requested. Documentation should be adult-normed or less than 2 years old and adequately reflect the present level of functioning.
Documentation necessary to substantiate a disability should include
- a statement on letterhead, by a qualified professional, which includes a specific diagnosis, rationale, explanation of specific functional limitation and any recommendations for support;
- a summary of assessment procedures and an evaluation of results;
- indication of why specific accommodation or auxiliary aids are needed and specific conditions under which they were used in the past;
- when warranted, medical information relating to the student should also include the impact of medication on the student's ability to meet the demands in the post-secondary environment.
It is important to recognize that accommodation needs can change over time and are not always identified through the initial diagnostic process. Conversely, a prior history of accommodation, without demonstration of a current need, does not in and of itself warrant the provision of a like accommodation.
The diagnostic report must include specific recommendations for accommodation(s) as well as a detailed explanation of why each accommodation is recommended. The evaluator(s) must describe the impact the diagnosed disability has on a specific major life activity as well the degree of significance of this impact on the individual. The evaluator(s) should support recommendations with specific test results or clinical observations. If no prior accommodation(s) has been provided, the qualified professional and/or the candidate should include a detailed explanation of why no accommodation(s) was used in the past and why an accommodation(s) is needed at this time.
Specific Guidelines for Documentation of Certain Disabilities
- A comprehensive psycho-educational or neuropsychological evaluation that provides a diagnosis of a learning disability must be submitted. The report should indicate the current status and impact of the learning disability in an academic setting. If another diagnosis is applicable (e.g., ADHD, mood disorder), it should be stated.
- The evaluation must be conducted by a professional who is certified/licensed in the area of learning disabilities, such as a clinical or educational psychologist, school psychologist, neurophysiologist or learning disabilities specialist. The evaluator's name, title, and professional credentials and affiliation should be provided.
- The evaluation must be based on a comprehensive assessment battery.
- Aptitude: Average broad cognitive functioning must be demonstrated on an individually administered intelligence test, preferably administered during high school or beyond, such as the WAIS, WISC, WJ-III Cognitive Battery, and Kaufman Adolescent and Adult Intelligence Test. Subtest scaled scores/subtest scores should be listed.
- Academic Achievement: A comprehensive academic achievement battery, such as the WJ-III and WIAT should document achievement deficits relative to potential. The battery should include current levels of academic functioning in relevant areas, such as reading, oral and written language, and mathematics. Standard scores and percentiles for administered subtests should be stated. Specific achievement tests can also be included, such as the Nelson-Denny Reading Test and Test of Written Language (TOWL), as well as informal measures (e.g., informal reading inventories and writing samples).
- Information Processing: Specific areas of information processing (e.g., short- and long-term memory, auditory and visual perception/processing, executive functioning) should be assessed.
- Social-Emotional Assessment: To rule out a primary emotional basis for learning difficulties and provide information needed to establish appropriate services, a social-emotional assessment using formal assessment instruments and/or clinical interview should be conducted.
- Clinical Summary: A diagnostic summary should present a diagnosis of a specific learning disability; provide impressions of the testing situation; interpret the testing data; and indicate how patterns in the student's cognitive ability, achievement, and information processing reflect the presence of a learning disability. Recommendations should be provided for specific accommodations based on disability-related deficits.
- For recent high school graduates, an evaluation reflecting current levels of academic skills should have been administered while in high school; for students who have been out of school for a number of years, documentation will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Supplementary documents that do not constitute sufficient documentation but that may be submitted in addition to a psychological, psycho-educational, or neuropsychological evaluation include an individualized education plan (IEP), a 504 plan, and/or an educational assessment.
The report must provide a recent, comprehensive assessment of the individual's condition that includes
- a clear statement of the diagnosis of the medical or physical disability;
- date of initial identification and date of current evaluation;
- a summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis;
- a description of the present symptoms/features, including the severity of the disability and expected duration, (students may be required to furnish periodic re-certification of continuing need);
- information regarding the major life activities and specific academic functions that are affected by the disability in a college setting (e.g., walking, seeing, hearing, performing manual tasks, learning, concentrating, attending class, meeting deadlines, etc.);
- medication and treatment information, including side effects that may impact the student's ability to function in a college setting;
- recommendations regarding reasonable accommodations or services appropriate at the postsecondary level, including a clear rationale and justification for those accommodations.
A diagnostic report must be submitted that provides findings of a current comprehensive clinical assessment of the condition that includes
- a clear statement of the disability, including the DSM-IV diagnosis and a description of present symptoms;
- a summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis and summary of evaluation results;
- information regarding the severity of the disability and the specific academic functions that are affected because of the disability across college settings (e.g., work completion, concentrating, class attendance, social interactions, self-care, etc.);
- information on medication, including side effects, and/or other treatment issues such as compliance that may impact the student's ability to meet the demands of a college environment;
- recommendations for accommodations, including a rationale for the accommodations based on specific features/symptoms of the disability.
Temporary Medical and Physical Conditions
The documentation must include
- a clear statement of the diagnosis of the medical or physical condition;
- a description of the present symptoms/features, including the severity of the condition and expected duration (the student may be required to furnish periodic re-certification of the continuing need);
- an assessment of how the condition compromises the student's functioning in a college setting;
- medication and treatment information, including side effects that may impact the student's ability to function;
- suggestions for reasonable accommodations or services, such as copies of class notes or extended time for exams.