Guidelines for Documentation of a Physical Disability or Systemic Disorder
At Sarah Lawrence College, students who request accommodations for a disability are required to submit documentation to verify eligibility under Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). These guidelines are provided in the interest of assuring that evaluation reports are appropriate for documenting eligibility for students who seek accommodations and services for a physical disability or systemic illness.
Physical disabilities include but are not limited to impairments, chronic illnesses, traumatic brain injury, arthritis, and visual, hearing, mobility, and manual limitations. The ADA defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual. Examples of major life activities include walking, sitting, standing, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, and performing manual tasks. A diagnosis of a disorder/condition/syndrome or impairment in and of itself does not automatically qualify an individual for accommodations under the ADA. The documentation must also support each request for accommodation, academic adjustment or modification, or auxiliary aid.
Professionals conducting assessments, rendering physical diagnoses, offering opinions about physical disabilities and making recommendations for accommodations must be qualified to do so. It is essential that professional qualifications include both (1) comprehensive training and relevant expertise in the specialty and (2) appropriate licensure/certification. Appropriate evaluators may include physicians, surgeons, dentists, optometrists, audiologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, neuropsychologists and other relevantly trained healthcare professionals qualified to make such diagnoses. Documentation may be provided from more than one source when a clinical team approach employing a variety of professionals has been used.
This document provides guidelines necessary to establish the impact of physical disabilities on an individual's college experience, both academic and social, and to validate the need for accommodations. In instances where there may be multiple diagnoses, including psychiatric disabilities, learning disabilities, and/or ADHD in addition to physical disabilities, evaluators should consult the appropriate guidelines regarding these conditions.
Recommended documentation includes:
- A clear statement of the medical diagnosis of the physical disability or systemic illness;
- A reflection of the current impact the physical disability or systemic illness has on the student’s functioning (the age of acceptable documentation is dependent upon the disabling condition, the student’s request for accommodations, and the current status of the student);
- A summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis, including evaluation results and standardized scores if applicable;
- A description of present symptoms that meet criteria for diagnosis;
- Medical information relating to the student’s needs, including the impact of medication on the student’s ability to meet the educational demands of the postsecondary environment;
- A statement describing the functional impact of the limitation of the disability on learning or other major life activity and the degree to which it impacts the individual in the learning context for which accommodations are being requested;
- Length of time the diagnostician has treated the student and date of last contact;
- Diagnostician’s name, title, license number, address, and phone number.
This information is confidential and will be used only for the purpose of enabling the College to provide the student with supportive academic accommodations and other services. We will not release any part of the documentation without the student's informed and written consent.
Send documentation to:
Polly B. Waldman
Associate Dean of Studies & Disability Services
Sarah Lawrence College
One Mead Way
Bronxville, NY 10708
Guidelines adapted from Educational Testing Services (2003). Guidelines for Documentation of Physical Disabilities and Chronic Health Conditions in Adolescents and Adults.
Questions? Please contact Polly Waldman, Associate Dean of Studies and Disability Services, at (914) 395-2235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.