Documentation Guidelines

INTRODUCTION

Swarthmore's Student Disability Service works collaboratively with each student applying for accommodations to determine eligibility and to identify the accommodations that will be most helpful for the student without altering the fundamental nature of the academic program.  The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (amended in 2008) describes an individual with a disability as someone who has: 

1.      A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual;

2.     A record of such impairment; or

3.     Is regarded as having such an impairment.

Students requesting accommodations for disabilities must provide documentation of a condition that has a current functional impact and meets the current legal definition of a disability.  We recognize that each student's situation is unique.  Decisions regarding eligibility and accommodations are made after meeting with the student to learn about the specific ways in which his/her disability affects daily functioning (particularly in an academic setting) and after reviewing clinical documentation. 

GUIDANCE FOR SUBMITTING DOCUMENTATION

The following criteria are provided for evaluators, medical professionals, students and family members to guide the process of preparing documentation.  If you have any questions, please contact Leslie Hempling, Coordinator of Learning Resources and Student Disability Services.

Send To:

Leslie Hempling, Coordinator of Learning Resources and Student Disability Services
Swarthmore College
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081
Email: lhempli1@swarthmore.edu  Phone: 610-690-5014  Fax:  610-328-8487

GENERAL CRITERIA FOR DOCUMENTATION PREPARED BY THIRD PARTIES

Complete documentation establishes the student as a person with a disability and provides a rationale for reasonable accommodations.  Documentation should contain the following components.  If needed, the Student Disability Service may contact the evaluator with the student's permission to gather more information.

1.     Credentials of the Evaluator:  Documentation must come from a qualified practitioner who is not a family member of the student.  Documentation must be printed on official letterhead and signed by the credentialed professional.  (Please include name, credentials, licensing, area of specialization, address and contact information.)

2.     History of the Disability:  Provide background information, including developmental, medical, psychological, family and academic histories (as relevant).

3.     Statement of Diagnosis and Description of Diagnostic Methodology:  Include a clear diagnostic statement.   If applicable, include current DSM-V or ICD-9 diagnosis.  A description of the diagnostic criteria, evaluation methods, procedures, tests and dates of administration, as well as a clinical narrative and specific results may be included. 

4.     Currency:  Documentation is meant to provide information about the student's current level of functioning in order to (1) establish the disability and (2) identify appropriate accommodations.  We recommend that testing reports be no more than 3-5 years old.  (Adult-normed testing instruments are preferred.) We recognize that in some circumstances, students may have older evaluations and testing reports; we do not want the absence of a current report to be a deterrent to receiving needed accommodations. Don't hesitate to contact us to discuss options. 

5.     Description of current functional limitations:  Describe the condition's current functional impact, including severity, frequency and pervasiveness.  Discuss the ways in which the condition limits a major life activity.  Please speak to the ways in which the student's condition may affect his or her functioning in a post-secondary institution. 

6.     Description of the expected progression or stability of the disability:  Include information about expected changes in the functional impact of the disability over time and context (if applicable).  Information on the cyclical or episodic nature of the disability and known or suspected environmental triggers are recommended. 

7.     Description of current and past accommodations:  Describe current and past auxiliary aids, assistive devices, support services and accommodations and the ways in which they have (or have not) been effective in ameliorating functional impacts of the disability.  Note:  Accommodations provided in another setting are not binding on the current institution, but they can provide insight in making current decisions.

8.     Recommendations for accommodations, assistive devices and/or collateral support services:  Recommendations should logically relate to functional limitations.  Please include a clear explanation for the rationale for a particular accommodation.  Note: Post-secondary institutions are not obligated to adopt recommendations made by outside entities, but recommendations are helpful in determining appropriate accommodations. 

RECOMMENDED DOCUMENTATION FOR SPECIFIC CONDITIONS

*This is not an exhaustive list. Please contact us if you need guidance about documentation for concerns that are not part of the list below.

Documentation for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

To document an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a student must submit a current report (preferably no more than three years old) based on the results of a comprehensive evaluation by a psychiatrist or licensed psychologist experienced in the area of ADHD.  Please include:

1.     Clear statement of a diagnosis of ADHD and the level of severity.

2.     Date of current evaluation and date(s) of previous evaluation(s).

3.     Procedures and measures used to make the diagnosis.

4.     Summary of thorough diagnostic interview. Please include the individual's history, age of onset and symptoms across multiple settings.

5.     Description of current symptoms that meet diagnostic criteria.

6.     Ruling out of alternative diagnoses or explanations for the symptoms.

7.     Analysis of any evaluation results and relevant test data.

8.     Description of the functional impact of the disability on major life activities (living, learning, etc.)

9.     Current treatment plan.  If the student is taking medication, include information on possible side effects that could create an additional functional limitation.

10.  Recommendations for appropriate accommodations including a rationale for each based on the student's current functional limitations.

Documentation of a Learning Disability

To document a learning disability, a student must submit a current report (preferably no more than five years old) from a comprehensive psychoeducational or neuropsychological evaluation performed by a licensed psychologist or certified school psychologist experienced in evaluating learning disabilities in young adults and adults.

The report must include the following information: a clear statement diagnosing LD; data and analysis substantiating the diagnosis including standard scores and percentiles; identification of current deficits that significantly limit academic performance; and recommendations for reasonable accommodations with a rationale for each one. 

Please include the following components:

1.     Summary of a thorough diagnostic interview including educational history

2.     Aptitude/Cognitive Ability - Include scores from standardized instruments such as WechslerAdult Intelligence Scale - III (WAIS-III), Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ3), Tests of Cognitive Ability, The Stanford-Binet V,  Kaufman Adolescent and Adult Intelligence Scale.

3.     Academic Achievement - Include scores from standardized instruments such as Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT), Woodcock-Johnson III, Tests of Achievement; Stanford Test of Academic Skills (TASK), Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults (SATA)

4.     Information Processing (e.g., visual, auditory, and spatial perception; processing speed; short and long term memory; executive functioning).  Include performance under timed conditions, from measures such as WAIS III, WJ3, Tests of Cognitive Ability and Tests of Achievement, Detroit Tests of Learning Aptitude (DTLA-4 or DTLA-Adult), Nelson-Denny Reading Test.

5.     Recommendations for appropriate accommodations including a rationale for each recommendation based on the student's current functional limitations.

Documentation of a Physical Disability or Chronic Medical Condition

A student with a physical disability or chronic medical condition may be required to provide documentation to support a request for an accommodation or to help identify appropriate accommodations. The documentation must be a written report of an evaluation by an appropriate professional relating the current impact of the condition to the requested accommodations. Please include the following components:  

1.     Nature of the condition and date of the most recent evaluation

2.     Diagnostic tests (if any), methods, and criteria used to make the diagnosis

3.     Comprehensive description of the impact of the disability on learning and living in a postsecondary institution, including evidence of current impairment.  Discuss the nature, frequency and severity of the symptoms of the condition.

4.     Treatment Plan:  Discuss the current treatment plan that addresses recommended interventions.  If the student is taking medication, include information on possible side effects that might create an additional functional limitation. 

5.     The expected duration or progression of the condition

6.     Description of past and present accommodations, auxiliary aides and supportive services that have been used by the student.

7.     Specific recommendations regarding academic adjustments, auxiliary aids and/or services including a rationale for each based on the student's functional limitations.

Documentation of Psychiatric/Psychological Disability

To document a psychological disability please submit a current report (no more than one year old) based on a comprehensive evaluation performed by an appropriate professional relating the current impact of the condition to the requested accommodations. The evaluation must include the following information:

1.     Evidence of Existing Impairment:  Clear statement of the specific DSM V diagnosis and level of severity.  Include Assessment of Functioning, Date/age of onset of psychiatric disorder, date of last psychiatric evaluation and discussion of co-morbid conditions (if relevant).

2.     Description of the methods, criteria, and diagnostic tests used to make the diagnosis.

3.     Summary of evaluation findings (including history and description of current symptoms).

4.     Comprehensive description of the impact of the disability on learning and living in a postsecondary institution, including evidence of current impairment.  Discuss the nature, frequency and severity of the symptoms of the condition.

5.     Treatment Plan:  Discuss the current treatment plan that addresses recommended interventions.  If the student is taking medication, include information on possible side effects that might create an additional functional limitation. 

6.     Specific recommendations regarding academic adjustments, auxiliary aids and/or services including a rationale for each based on the student's functional limitations.  Please include a time period for which these accommodations are recommended.