Students who desire accommodations from the Office of Student Disability Services on the basis on a psychiatric disorder are required to submit documentation to verify need and eligibility under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Protection under these civil rights statutes is based on documentation of a disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities. A diagnosis of a disorder/condition/syndrome in and of itself does not automatically qualify an individual for accommodations under the ADA.
Since Rhodes’ goal is to provide reasonable and appropriate support services for students with disabilities, you are required to provide current and comprehensive documentation of your disorder justifying a need for accommodation. We’ve provided the following guidelines to assure that your documentation is appropriate to verify eligibility and supportive of your request for reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments and auxiliary aids on the basis of a diagnosed psychiatric disorder.
Qualifications of the Evaluator. Professionals conducting assessments, rendering diagnoses of psychiatric disorders, and making recommendations for appropriate accommodations must be qualified to do so. Depending on the student’s condition, an appropriate evaluator might be a licensed psychiatrist, psychologist, neuropsychologist or other qualified and licensed mental health or medical professional. The diagnostician should be an impartial individual who is not a family member of the student.
Currency of Documentation. The provision of all reasonable accommodations and services is based upon assessment of the current impact and limitations of the disorder on the student’s academic performance. Therefore, it is in the student’s best interest to provide recent and appropriate documentation relevant to the student’s learning environment. The documentation, in general, must be no more than one year old and more recent documentation may be required in some cases. Due to the nature of psychiatric disorders, updated reports may be requested.
Comprehensive Documentation. The following elements must be included in the evaluator’s report in order for a student to be considered for appropriate accommodations:
- A clear statement of disability including the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) diagnosis and description of severity.
- A summary of current symptoms that satisfy the DSM-IV-TR criteria.
- Date of diagnosis and approximate date of onset and prognosis of the disorder.
- A summary of historical information, diagnostic interview, and assessment procedures/ evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis. A summary of evaluation results, including standardized or percentile scores, should also be included.
- Statement of current impact and limitations of the disorder on the student’s academic performance.
- Medical information relating to the student’s needs, to include current treatments and the impact of medication on the student’s ability to meet the demands of the postsecondary environment.
- Recommendations for academic accommodations to compensate for the disorder. Each recommended accommodation must include a rationale.
- The name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator. Information about license or certification as well as the area of specialization, employment, and state or province in which the individual practices should be clearly stated in the documentation.
All reports must be typed on official letterhead. The evaluator must also sign and date all materials. By doing so, the evaluator certifies that he/she has conducted or formally supervised and co-signed the diagnostic assessment of the student and that their credentials meet the requirements listed above.
Further assessment and/or documentation by an appropriate professional may be required if co-existing disabilities are indicated. If learning, attentional, or physical disorders are involved, please refer to the documentation guidelines for those specific disabilities.
Determinations of reasonable and appropriate accommodations are made by Rhodes’ Disability Support Committee and are based on the documentation information, evaluation of the documentation by an outside professional, the student’s request for accommodations, and the tasks required for the student’s courses as defined by individual faculty members. Accommodations are always individually determined.