Requesting Reasonable Accommodations
Written documentation that verifies the existence of a disability must be provided by each student requesting disability services and accommodations.
Documentation of a visual impairment should be from an ophthalmologist. It should explain the extent of an individual's visual fields, their degree of visual acuity; whether the condition is stable or progressive, if the condition is considered "low vision" or "blind". The documentation should also include whether visual aids are recommended.
Documentation of a hearing impairment should be a report from an audiologist. This report should include results of an audiogram, will tell the type of hearing loss (either conductive or sensorineural), and the degree of hearing loss.
The following guidelines for the documentation of a learning disability are provided in the interest of assuring that evaluation reports are appropriate to (a) document eligibility and (b) support requests for reasonable accommodations and appropriate academic adjustments. Staff from the Office for Disability Services for Students is available to consult with diagnosticians regarding any of these guidelines.
1. A diagnostic interview should be conducted at the time of testing. Because learning disabilities are most commonly manifested during childhood, historical information of learning difficulties in elementary, secondary and postsecondary education must be included. An evaluation report must also include a comprehensive diagnostic interview by a qualified evaluator who addresses relevant background information to support the diagnosis. Such information includes:
- Developmental history
Academic history including results of prior standardized testing, reports of classroom performance and behavior, and notable trends in academic performance
Medical history including the absence of a medical basis for the present symptoms.
History of prior psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy.
Discussion of any dual diagnosis of alternative or co-existing mood, behavioral, neurological, and/or personality disorders.
Description of presenting problem(s).
2. Testing must be comprehensive. It is not acceptable to administer only one test for the purpose of diagnosis. Minimally, domains to be addressed must include (but are not limited to):
- Aptitude. The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-III (WAIS-III) with subtest scores is the preferred instrument. The Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery-Revised: Tests of Cognitive Ability or the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale: Fourth edition are acceptable.
Achievement. Current levels of functioning in reading, mathematics, and written language are required. Acceptable instruments include the Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery- Revised: Tests of Achievement; Stanford Test of Academic Skills (TASK); Scholastic Ability Test for Adults; or specific achievement tests such as The Test of Written Language-2 (TOWL), Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests-Revised, or the Stanford Diagnostic Mathematics Test. The Wide Range Achievement Test is not a comprehensive measure of achievement and therefore, is not suitable as the sole measure of achievement.
- Information processing. Specific areas of information processing (e.g., short and long term memory; sequential memory; auditory and visual perception/processing; processing speed) must be assessed. Use of subtests from the WAIS-R or the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Ability is acceptable.
This is not intended to be an exhaustive list or to restrict assessment in other pertinent areas such as vocational interests and aptitudes.
3. There must be clear and specific evidence and identification of a learning disability. Individual "learning styles" and "learning differences" in and of themselves do not constitute a learning disability.
4. Test scores/data should be included.
5. Professionals conducting assessment and rendering diagnoses of specific learning disabilities must be qualified to do so. Trained and certified and/or licensed psychologists, learning disabilities specialists, and educational therapists may be involved in the process of assessment. Experience working with an adult population is essential.
6. Diagnostic reports must include the names and titles of the evaluators as well as the date(s) of testing.
7. Examples of acceptable documentation for a learning disability may include a diagnosis that is recognized under the American Psychiatric Association's DSM-IV criteria; however, other documentation form other sources that shows adequate support for the need for an academic adjustment for a learning disability may also be acceptable.