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Documentation Guidelines

Prior to receiving any disability-related service or accommodation, students must present recent documentation (generally less than three years old) that clearly demonstrates the nature of their disability and the appropriateness of the accommodation requested.

General Guidelines For Documentation:

Disability is defined as a permanent, longstanding significant condition that substantially or significantly limits one or more of the major life functions (including but not limited to: seeing, hearing, walking, breathing, learning, working, concentrating, etc).

Students with qualifying disabilities may be eligible, under the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 (ADA), for reasonable accommodations that will support equal opportunity and inclusion in College programs and services.

Documentation from a credentialed examiner is required to substantiate the presence of a possible disability and to establish the possible need for accommodations CCRI. These guidelines are summarized below.

Temporary conditions are NOT regarded as ADA eligible, however, depending on the nature of the temporary condition and on the availability of resources, environmental supports may be provided.

Seven Essential Elements of Quality Documentation

The Community College of Rhode Island best practices of documentation guidelines that are outlined by AHEAD, the Association of Higher Education and Disability. In brief, the seven essential elements are:

  1. Licensed or credentialed evaluator, with specific training or expertise related to the condition being diagnosed, and who is not related to the individual. (ex. hearing disability diagnosed by certified Audiologist (CCC-A) or by an Ear, Nose, & Throat M.D.)
  2. Clear diagnostic statement, including diagnostic sub-types where relevant, that describes how the condition was diagnosed and provides information on the functional impact of the condition. A full clinical description will convey this information, as will diagnostic codes from the DSM (Diagnostic Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association) or the ICF (International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health of the World Health Organization.)
  3. Description of the diagnostic methodology used including diagnostic criteria, evaluation methods, tests and dates of administration, clinical narrative, observations, and results. Diagnostic methods must be congruent with the particular disability and with current professional practices in the field.
  4. Description of the current functional limitations of the disabling condition helps establish the possible disability and identify possible accommodations. A combination of the individual's self report, results of formal evaluation procedures, and clinical narrative are recommended. Quality documentation will demonstrate how a major life activity is significantly, amply, or substantially limited by providing evidence of frequency and pervasiveness of the conditions(s).
  5. Description of the progression or stability of the disability over time and in context.
  6. Description of current and past accommodations, services or medications.
  7. Recommendations for accommodations, assistive devices, assistive services, compensatory strategies, and/or collateral support services.
    For more detailed information please see the AHEAD website "Elements".

Note: The Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act of 2008 broadened the definition of disability in the number and types of conditions that could be considered. The new law also strengthened the importance of quality, detailed documentation in determining who is eligible for accommodations. Many conditions may now be considered a disability, but in order to qualify for accommodations, a major life function must be significantly, amply or substantially limited in the college environment.

(For example: a person may be considered "disabled" with a diagnosis of ADHD; but the same person with mild-moderate limitations to a major life function may not be eligible for accommodations. However, the person whose documentation demonstrates substantial, significant or considerable impact to a major life function, may be eligible for accommodations.)

All determinations are made on a case-by-case basis.

The following practitioners are accepted to provide documentation on the respective disabilities or conditions (all must be appropriately credentialed and licensed in their respective fields)
Acceptable Practitioners
Name Department
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Neuropsychologist, Psychiatrist, Neurologist, Neurodevelopmental Physician
Chronic Illness/Health Gastroenterologist, Rheumatologist, Endocrinologist, Internal Medicine, or other physician knowledgeable to condition
Developmental Disability (such as Asperger Syndrome) Neuropsychologist, Psychiatrist, Clinical Psychologist, Neurodevelopmental Physician
Head Injury/TBI Neurologist, Neuropsychologist
Hearing Audiologist (CCC-A), Otolaryngologist
Learning Disabilities School Psychologist, Clinical Psychologist, Neuropsychologist, Neurodevelopmental Physician
Mental Health or Psychiatric Psychiatrist Clinical Psychologist, Social Worker (LICSW), Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
Mobility/Physical Physical Therapist, Orthopedic Surgeon, other physician knowledgeable to condition
Speech and Communication Conditions Speech Language Clinician
Vision Optometrist, Ophthalmologist

Updated Oct. 2009 - CCRI