Chronic Health Impairments and Physical Disabilities
Students who desire accommodations from the Office of Student Disability Services on the basis of a physical disability or chronic health impairment are required to submit documentation to verify eligibility under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and 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 disability.
As appropriate to the disability, documentation should include:
A diagnostic statement identifying the disability, date of the current diagnostic evaluation, and the date of the original diagnosis. The diagnostic taxonomies used by the Department of Education, the Department of Rehabilitative Services or other State agencies and/or the current editions of either the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) or the International Classification of Diseases Manual (ICD-10) are recommended.
Although some individuals have long-standing or permanent diagnoses, because of the changing manifestations of many physical disabilities, students are required to provide recent and appropriate documentation. Since reasonable accommodations are based upon the current impact of the disability, the documentation must address the individual′s current level of functioning and the need for accommodations (e.g., due to observed changes in performance or medication changes since previous assessment). If the diagnostic report is more than six months old, the test taker must also submit a letter from a qualified professional that provides an update of the diagnosis, a description of the test taker′s current level of functioning during the preceding six months, and a rationale for each of the requested testing accommodations.
Documentation should be current within three years, but exceptions may be necessary, dependent upon individual circumstances and the nature of the disability. Since 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.
A description of the diagnostic criteria and/or diagnostic test used. This description should include the specific results of diagnostic procedures and diagnostic tests utilized. When available, both summary and specific test scores should be reported as standard scores and the norming population identified. When standard scores are not available, the mean, standard deviation, and the standard error of measurement are requested as appropriate to the construction of the test.
Diagnostic methods used should be congruent with the disability and current professional practices within the field. Informal or non-standardized evaluations should be described in enough detail that a professional colleague could understand their role and significance in the diagnostic process.
A description of the functional impact of the disability. The current functional impact on physical, perceptual, and cognitive abilities should be described. Currency will be evaluated based on the typical progression of the disability, its interaction with development across the life span, the presence or absence of significant events (since the date of the evaluation) that would impact functioning, and the applicability of the information to the current context of the request for accommodations.
Treatments, medications, assistive devices/services currently prescribed. A description of treatments, medications, assistive devices and/or assistive services in current use and their estimated effectiveness in ameliorating the impact of the disability should be included. Significant side effects that may impact physical, perceptual, or cognitive performance should also be noted.
A description of the expected progression or stability of the impact of the disability over time. This description should provide an estimate of the change in the functional limitations of the disability over time and/or recommendations concerning the predictable needs for reevaluation.
Recommendations for accommodations, adaptive devices, assistive services, and support services, with accompanying rationale. Based on the context of the diagnostic evaluation, recommendations for specific accommodations, adaptive devices, and/or assistive services that would ameliorate the functional impact of the disability and provide fuller access should be described. As appropriate, recommendations for collateral medical, psychological, and/or educational support services or training that would be beneficial may also be included.
The credentials of the diagnosing professional(s). Professionals conducting assessments, rendering physical diagnoses, and making recommendations for accommodations must be qualified to do so. It is essential that professional qualifications include both comprehensive training and relevant expertise in the specialty and appropriate licensure/certification. Information indicating the name, title, credentials, certification/licensure, and/or the professional training of the individual conducting the evaluation must be provided. All reports should be in English, typed on professional letterhead, dated, and signed.
Determinations of reasonable and appropriate accommodations are made by the 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.