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Documentation Guidelines

Accommodate 

Accommodate is our new database management system. To initiate an initial request for accommodations please visit the public site. Please allow at least two weeks for the review process.

If you already receive accommodations, please login to the Accommodate portal with your Holy Cross credentials. 

General Criteria

Students who are seeking services from the College of the Holy Cross are required to submit documentation to verify eligibility.

Documentation to support the need for requested accommodation(s) must:  

  • state the diagnosed disability
  • be current, within the last 1 year for Mental Health and Medical Disabilities, 3 years for ADHD, or 5 years for Learning Disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder. These time frames do not apply to physical or sensory disabilities of a permanent or unchanging nature.
  • include complete educational, developmental, and medical history relevant to the disability for which accommodations are being requested
  • describe the functional limitations resulting from the disability and list the tests or techniques used to arrive at the diagnosis of the disability (include evaluation date[s] and test results with relevant subtest scores)
  • describe the specific accommodations requested, which should be clearly supported by test results and indicate how the specific condition(s) can be accommodated
  • state why the disability qualifies the applicant for such accommodation(s) in a college environment
  • be typed or printed on official letterhead and signed by an official evaluator qualified to make the diagnosis (include information about license or certification and area of specialization)


Specific language regarding evidence and diagnosis of a disability is required. Terms such as "indicative of" or "suggests" a disability are not acceptable. A diagnostic statement alone is generally not sufficient to establish eligibility for accommodations. The summary should provide a clear presentation of substantial limitation to learning or other major life activity. The summary should also include any record of prior accommodation or auxiliary aids.  
Prior history of accommodation does not, in and of itself, warrant the provision of a similar accommodation.

A school plan such as an individualized education program (IEP) or a 504 plan is insufficient documentation, but it can be included as part of a more comprehensive student profile.

Qualification of the Evaluator
Professionals conducting assessments, rendering diagnoses of specific disabilities, and making recommendations for appropriate accommodations must be qualified to do so. Comprehensive training with regard to the specific disability being addressed and direct experience with an adolescent and/or adult population is essential.
Please see specific documentation guidelines for more information.

Specific Documentation Guidelines
The following guidelines are specific to the disability category and assist students and their health care providers in preparing appropriate documentation to support the student’s requests. In assessing a request, the documentation a student submits will be considered along with other factors, such as an interview with the student and their past history of accommodation use. The age of the documentation required is generally dependent on the type of disability and whether the impact of the condition on the student is static or changing.

 

Documentation Guidelines for Learning Disabilities

The following guidelines are provided in the interest of assuring that evaluation reports are appropriate to document eligibility. The Office of Disability Services is available to consult with diagnosticians regarding any of these guidelines.

1.Qualified Professional
The following professionals are generally considered qualified to submit documentation, provided they have comprehensive training and relevant experience in assessing learning disabilities in adolescents and adults: 
Clinical Psychologists
Educational Psychologists
School Psychologists 
Neuropsychologists

Reports from a qualified practitioner should be submitted on letterhead and include:

Name, title, and professional credentials
Information about license or certification as well as the area of specialization
State/province in which the individual practices

2. Documentation Should 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. In most cases, this means that a diagnostic evaluation has been completed within the past five years. Flexibility in accepting documentation which exceeds a five year period may be important under certain conditions if the previous assessment is applicable to the current or anticipated setting. If documentation is inadequate in scope or content or does not address the individual's current level of functioning and need for accommodation(s), re-evaluation may be warranted. It is the student’s responsibility to pay for the cost associated with obtaining sufficient documentation. Funding may be available for students with demonstrated need.

3. Documentation should be comprehensive and include:


A. Diagnosis

A diagnosis of a specific learning disability is necessary. Individual "learning styles," "learning differences," "academic problems," and "test difficulty or anxiety," in and of themselves, do not constitute a learning disability.


B. Pertinent background information and assessments
The student report should include a complete assessment of intellectual functioning/aptitude and comprehensive academic achievement battery that measures current levels of functioning in reading (decoding and comprehension), mathematics and oral and written language. 

The following list of assessments is provided as a helpful resource, but it is not intended to be definitive or exhaustive.

Aptitude 
Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale - III (WAIS-III)
Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery - Revised: Tests of Cognitive Ability
Kaufman Adolescent and Adult Intelligence Test
Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale (4th ed.)
*The Slosson Intelligence Test - Revised and the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test are primarily screening devices that are not comprehensive enough to provide the kinds of information necessary to make accommodation decisions.

Academic Achievement 
Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults (SATA)
Stanford Test of Academic Skills
Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery - Revised: Tests of Achievement
Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT)

Specific achievement tests 
Nelson-Denny Reading Skills Test
Stanford Diagnostic Mathematics Test
Test of Written Language - 3 (TOWL-3)
Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests - Revised
(specific achievement tests are useful instruments when administered under standardized conditions and interpreted within the context of other diagnostic information) 
*The Wide Range Achievement Test - 3 (WRAT-3) is not a comprehensive measure of achievement and therefore is not useful if used as the sole measure of achievement.

Information Processing
Detroit Tests of Learning Aptitude - 3 (DTLA-3) 
Detroit Tests of Learning Aptitude - Adult (DTLA-A) 
Information from subtests on WAIS-R, Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery Revised: Tests of Cognitive Ability, as well as other relevant instruments.

C.Integrated summary
The summary should:
indicate the substantial limitations to major life activities (e.g., learning, reading, thinking) posed by the specified learning disability
describe the extent to which these limitations impact the academic context for which accommodations are being requested
suggest how the specific effects of the learning disability may be accommodated
state how the effects of the learning disability are mediated by the recommended accommodations

 

Documentation Guidelines for ADHD

The following guidelines are provided in the interest of assuring that evaluation reports are appropriate to document eligibility. The Office of Disability Services is available to consult with diagnosticians regarding any of these guidelines.

1. Qualified Professional:
Professionals conducting assessments and rendering diagnoses of ADHD 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 ADHD provided they have comprehensive training in the differential diagnosis of ADHD and direct experience with an adolescent or adult ADHD population: 

clinical psychologists  
psychiatrists 
other relevantly trained medical doctors. 
Use of diagnostic terminology indicating ADHD by someone whose training and experience are not in these fields is not acceptable. It is also not appropriate for professionals to evaluate members of their own families.

Reports from a qualified practitioner should be submitted on letterhead and include:

Name, title, and professional credentials
Information about license or certification as well as the area of specialization
State/province in which the individual practices

2. Documentation Should 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. In most cases, this means that a diagnostic evaluation has been completed within the past three years. Flexibility in accepting documentation which exceeds a three-year period may be important under certain conditions if the previous assessment is applicable to the current or anticipated setting. If documentation is inadequate in scope or content or does not address the individual's current level of functioning and need for accommodation(s), re-evaluation may be warranted. It is the student’s responsibility to pay for costs associated with obtaining sufficient documentation. Funding may be available for students with demonstrated need.

3. Documentation Should Be Comprehensive and include:
A. Specific Diagnosis
The report must include a specific diagnosis of ADHD based on the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria. The diagnostician should use direct language in the diagnosis of ADHD, avoiding the use of terms such as "suggests," "is indicative of", or "attention problems". Individuals who report only problems with organization, test anxiety, memory and concentration in selective situations do not fit the prescribed diagnostic criteria for ADHD.

B. Evidence of early impairment
Because ADHD is, by definition, first exhibited in childhood (although it may not have been formally diagnosed) and manifests itself in more than one setting, relevant historical information is essential. The following should be included in a comprehensive assessment: clinical summary of objective, historical information establishing symptomology indicative of ADHD throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood as garnered from transcripts, report cards, teacher comments, tutoring evaluations, past psychoeducational testing, and/or third-party interviews.

C. Evidence of current impairment
A history of the individual's presenting attentional symptoms and evidence of current impulsive/hyperactive or inattentive behaviors that significantly impair functioning in two or more settings must be provided. History of full assessment which includes information about the impact of the symptoms on the student’s functioning in and out of the classroom setting. It is important the evaluation addresses the severity and frequency of the symptoms and indicates whether the symptoms constitute an impairment of a major life activity.

D. Alternative Diagnoses 
The evaluator must investigate and discuss the possibility of dual diagnoses, and alternative or co-existing mood, behavioral, neurological, and/or personality disorders which may confound the diagnosis of ADHD. 

E. Relevant testing
Neuropsychological or psychoeducational assessment is important in determining the current impact of the disorder on the individual's ability to function in academically related settings. The evaluator should objectively review and include in the evaluation report relevant background information to support the diagnosis. If grade equivalents are reported, they must be accompanied by standard scores and/or percentiles. Test scores or subtest scores alone should not be used as a sole measure for the diagnostic decision regarding ADHD. Selected subtest scores from measures of intellectual ability, memory functions tests, attention or tracking tests, or continuous performance tests do not in and of themselves establish the presence or absence of ADHD. Checklists and/or surveys can serve to supplement the diagnostic profile but in and of themselves are not adequate for the diagnosis of ADHD and do not substitute for clinical observations and sound diagnostic judgment. All data must logically reflect a substantial limitation to learning for which the individual is requesting the accommodation.

F. An interpretative summary
An interpretative summary based on a comprehensive evaluative process is a necessary component of the documentation. 

G. Recommended Accommodations
The diagnostic report should include specific recommendations for accommodations that are reasonable and that postsecondary institutions, examining, certifying, and licensing agencies can reasonably provide. A detailed explanation should be provided as to why each accommodation is recommended and should be correlated with specific functional limitations determined through interview, observation, and/or testing. 

H. Rationale
Each accommodation recommended by the evaluator should include a rationale. 
The evaluator(s) should describe the impact, if any, of the diagnosed ADHD on a specific major life activity as well as the degree of impact on the individual. 

*Although prior documentation may have been useful in determining appropriate services in the past, current documentation should validate the need for services based on the individual's present level of functioning in the educational setting. The documentation should include any record of prior accommodations or auxiliary aids, including information about specific conditions under which the accommodations were used (e.g., standardized testing, final exams, licensing or certification examinations) and whether or not they benefited the individual. However, a prior history of accommodations, without demonstration of a current need, does not in itself warrant the provision of a like accommodation. If no prior accommodations were provided, the qualified professional and/or the individual should include a detailed explanation as to why no accommodations were used in the past and why accommodations are needed at this time.

Documentation Guidelines for Physical Mobility and Chronic Medical Conditions

The following guidelines are provided in the interest of assuring that information submitted is appropriate to document eligibility. The Office of Disability Services is available to consult with practitioners regarding any of these guidelines.
1.Qualified Professional
The following professionals are generally considered qualified to submit documentation, provided they have comprehensive training and relevant experience:
Physicians

2. Documentation Should Be Current
Because the provision of all reasonable accommodations and services is based upon assessment of the current impact of the disability, it is in an individual's best interest to provide recent and appropriate documentation. In most cases, this means that the documentation should generally not be more than a year old. Acceptable documentation is dependent upon whether or not the condition is permanent, or will change over time. If the disability is a permanent, lifelong condition, documentation may not need to be as recent, however, specific recommendations that pertain to the current academic setting should still be provided.

3. Documentation should include
An identification of the disabling condition(s).
An assessment of the functionally limiting manifestations of the condition(s) for which accommodations are being requested.
Degree and range of functioning for a chronic or progressive condition.
Prescribed medications, dosages and schedules that may influence the types of accommodations provided, including any possible side effects.
Suggestions as to how the functionally limiting manifestations of the disabling condition(s) may be accommodated.

Guidelines for Psychiatric/Psychological Disabilities

The following guidelines are provided in the interest of assuring that information submitted is appropriate to document eligibility. The Office of Disability Services is available to consult with practitioners regarding any of these guidelines.

1.Qualified Professional
The following professionals are generally considered qualified to submit documentation, provided they have comprehensive training, relevant experience, and an established rapport with the student:
Psychologists
Licensed Clinical Social Workers
Psychiatrists
Other relevantly trained medical doctors

2. Documentation Should Be Current
Because the provision of all reasonable accommodations and services is based upon assessment of the current impact of the disability, and due to the changing nature of psychiatric/psychological conditions, it is in an individual's best interest to provide recent and appropriate documentation. In most cases, this means that documentation should be current and not more than a year old. Students may be required to provide updated documentation on a case-by-case basis.

3. Documentation should include:
1. A specific, current psychiatric diagnosis as per the Manual-IVTR (DSM-IVTR) of the American Psychiatric Association (2000), which indicates the nature, frequency, and severity of the symptoms upon which the diagnosis was predicated. A diagnosis without an explicit listing of current symptoms is not sufficient.

2. Primary and secondary Axis I and Axis II diagnoses. A measure of functioning using the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) Scale in the DSM-IVTR is highly recommended. Prescribed medications, dosages and schedules that may influence the learning environment and types of accommodations, including any possible side effects.

3. An integrated summary that:
indicates the substantial limitations to major life activities posed by the psychiatric disability
describes the extent to which these limitations would impact the academic context for which accommodations are being requested
suggests how the specific effects of the psychiatric disorder may be accommodated
states how the effects of the psychiatric disorder are mediated by the recommended accommodations

*Documentation guidelines adapted with guidance from AHEAD Documentation Guidelines, revised 2008.