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Documentation

Guidelines for Documentation of a Specific Learning Disability

The following guidelines are provided to assure that documentation is appropriate to verify eligibility and to support requests for reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids. The disabilities coordinator is available to consult with diagnosticians regarding any of these guidelines.

  1. Testing must be comprehensive. It is not acceptable to administer only one test for the purpose of diagnosis or establishing that substantial limitation in a major life activity currently exists in an individual with a previous diagnosis of LD. Minimally, domains to be addressed must include (but not be limited to):
    • Aptitude. The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale – Revised (WAIS-R) or 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. The Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (KBIT) is not a comprehensive measure and therefore is not suitable.
    • Achievement. Current levels of functioning in reading, mathematics and written language are required. Acceptable instruments include the Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery – Revised: Tests of Achievement; Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT); Stanford Test of Academic Skills (TASK); Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults (SSATA); or specific achievement tests such as the Test of Written Language – 3 (TOWL-3); Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests – Revised, and the Stanford Diagnostic Mathematics Test. The Wide Range Achievement Test – 3 (WRAT-3) and the Mini-Battery of Achievement (MBA) are not comprehensive measures of achievement and therefore are not suitable.
    • Information Processing. Specific areas of information processing (e.g., short-long-term memory, sequential memory, auditory and visual perception/processing, processing speed) must be assessed. Information from subtests on the WAIS-R (or WAIS-III), the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Ability, or the Detroit Tests of Learning Aptitude-Adult (DTLA-A), as well as other instruments relevant to the learning problem(s) may be used to address these. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list or to restrict assessment in other pertinent and helpful areas such as vocational interests and aptitudes.
  2. Testing must be current. In most cases, this means testing that has been conducted within the past three years. Because the provision of all reasonable accommodations and services is based upon assessment of the current impact of the student's disabilities on his/her academic performance, it is in the student's best interest to provide recent and appropriate documentation.
  3. Actual test scores must be provided. Standard scores are required. Percentiles and grade equivalents are not acceptable unless standard scores are also included. This is important since certain college policies and procedures (e.g., petitioning for permission to substitute courses) require actual data to substantiate eligibility.
  4. In addition to actual test scores, interpretation of results is required. Test protocol sheets or scores alone are not sufficient.
  5. Tests used to document eligibility must be technically sound (i.e., statistically reliable and valid) and standardized for use with an adult population.
  6. 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.
  7. Professionals conducting assessment and rendering diagnoses of learning disabilities must be qualified to do so. Trained, certified and/or licensed school psychologists, neuropsychologists, clinical psychologists, learning disabilities specialists, and other professionals with training and experience relevant to adults and their evaluation are typically involved in the process of assessment. Experience in working with an adult population is essential.
  8. Diagnostic reports must include the names, titles, and professional credentials (e.g., licensed psychologist) of the evaluators as well as the date(s) of testing.
  9. A written summary of background information about the student's relevant education, medical, and family histories that relate to the learning disability must be included.
  10. Any recommendation for an accommodation should be based on objective evidence of a substantial limitation to learning supported by specific test results or clinical observations. Reports should establish the rationale for any accommodation that is recommended, using test data to document the need.
  11. A description of any accommodation and/or auxiliary aid that has been used at the secondary or post-secondary level should be discussed. Information should include the specific conditions under which the accommodation was used (e.g., standardized testing, final exams) and whether or not it benefited the student.
  12. Individual Education Programs (IEPs) are useful, but are not, in and of themselves, sufficient documentation to establish the rationale for accommodations.

Guidelines for Documentation of a Psychological Disability

The following guidelines are provided to assure that documentation is appropriate to verify eligibility and to support requests for reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids. The disabilities coordinator is available to consult with diagnosticians regarding any of these guidelines.

  1. Testing must be comprehensive. A specific, current psychiatric diagnosis is required. The diagnosis will include Axis I-V, as per The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV (DSM-IV) of the American Psychiatric Association (1994) which indicates the nature, frequency and severity of the symptoms upon which the diagnosis was predicted. A diagnosis without an explicit listing of current symptoms is not sufficient. Serious Emotion Disturbance (SED) is not an acceptable diagnosis at the post-secondary level.

    A measure of functioning using the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) Scale in the DSM-IV is highly recommended. Using GAF, the report will indicate the general, highest, and lowest GAF score and describe behaviorally the student's performance at each GAF level using as much detail as is known.

    If documentation is inadequate in scope or content or does not address the individual's current level of functioning and need for accommodation(s), reevaluation may be warranted.
  2. Testing must be current. Because the provision of all reasonable accommodations and services is based upon assessment of the current impact of the disability on academic performance, it is in an individual's best interest to provide recent and appropriate documentation. Recent documentation appropriate to diagnosis is required.
  3. Professionals conducting assessment and rendering diagnosis of psychiatric disabilities must have training in differential diagnosis and the full range of psychiatric disorders. The following professionals would generally be considered qualified to evaluate and diagnose psychiatric disabilities provided they have comprehensive training in differential diagnosis and direct experience with an adolescent and/or adult population: licensed clinical psychologists, marriage family therapists, licensed clinical social workers, psychiatrists, and relevantly trained medical doctors. Use of diagnostic terminology indicating a psychiatric disability by someone whose training and experience are not in these fields is not acceptable.
  4. Diagnostician will provide a list of prescribed medications, dosages and schedules that may influence the types of accommodations provided, including any possible side effects. The report will indicate whether or not the prescribed treatment produced a positive response.
  5. Any recommendation for an accommodation should be based on objective evidence of a substantial limitation to learning supported by specific test results or clinical observations. Reports should establish the rationale for any accommodation that is recommended. An integrated summary is required that:
    • Indicates the substantial limitations to major life activities posed by the psychiatric disability;
    • Describes the extent of these limitations that impact the academic program for which accommodations are being requested.
    • Suggests how the specific effects of the psychiatric disability may be accommodated.
    • States how the effects of the psychiatric disability are mediated by the recommended accommodations.
  6. Individual Education Programs (IEPs) are useful, but are not, alone, sufficient documentation to establish the rationale for accommodations.

Process for Receiving Accomodations

  1. Students meet with the coordinator of the Disabilities Support Services (DSS) to begin the interactive process and share information.
  2. Students either present "current" documentation or explore resources for an education assessment or diagnosis.
  3. The coordinator of the DSS evaluates documentation and either requests more information or further testing, or gives approval. The DSS coordinator must assure that the documentation provided establishes the individual as a person with a disability and provides a rationale for reasonable accommodations.
  4. Once the documentations has been received, a student must request services and accommodations by meeting with the DSS coordinator. This will NOT be done automatically and must be initiated by the student.
  5. If the student qualifies to receive disability services they schedule an appointment with the coordinator early each quarter to discuss the student's learning needs and accommodations for the quarter. The DSS coordinator will not give accommodations without having the opportunity for discussion with the student. To process request the DSS needs at least one week although it can take up to two weeks. So the earlier the student schedules an appointment with the coordinator, the earlier services will begin. (Therefore, if a student requests accommodations for the first time in a quarter a few days before a test, it is unlikely that their needs will be met on time)
  6. At the individual appointment with the DSS coordinator the student completes the necessary request forms indicating the services requested for each class. The DSS coordinator makes arrangements for all approved accommodations (i.e., note-taker, books on tape/CD, tutor, test proctoring) and completing the Disability Accommodation Notice.
  7. It is the student's responsibility to present the Disability Accommodations Notice and communicate their needs with their professor.
  8. The student is responsible for discussing with their professor if an accommodation for a particular class is not working. If a problem cannot be resolved by talking with the professor, the student should contact the DSS coordinator.
  9. It is the student's responsibility to contact the DSS coordinator if he or she has any questions or concerns regarding academic accommodations.
Note: Documentation forms can be found on the TLC forms & downloads page.