Guidelines for Disability Documentation

Documentation for Academic Accommodations

Guidelines for Disability Documentation

The North Dakota Colleges and Universities Disability Services use documentation of disability to 1) establish whether an individual is a person with a disability and 2) provide a rationale for identifying and implementing reasonable accommodations. 

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 define disability as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities." Major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, sitting, standing, lifting, reaching, sleeping, and mental/emotional processes such as thinking, concentrating, and interacting with others. The ADA also protects individuals from discrimination if they have a record of such impairments or if they are regarded as having such impairments.

Formal evaluation procedures, clinical narratives, and the individual's self-report will be used to determine appropriate and reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities. The approved accommodations and strategies must logically relate to the functional limitations described in the documentation.
DSC has incorporated the Association of Higher Education and Disability's (AHEAD) (2004) seven essential elements of quality documentation into their criteria for documentation.

Disability Documentation Should Include:


1. A clear diagnostic statement that describes how the condition was diagnosed, information on the functional impact, and details on the progression or prognosis of the condition. Dates of the original and current diagnostic evaluations need to be included. 
2. A description of the diagnostic methodology, criteria, evaluation methods, procedures, tests used, dates administered, clinical narrative, observations, and specific results that are congruent with the particular disability. 
**Documentation for learning disabilities must include test scores and interpretation of aptitude, achievement, and, when possible, information processing. Tests used should be current and appropriate for assessing adolescents and adults. 
3. A description of the current functional limitations and how those limitations affect the student in a major life activity. A "functional limitation" is defined as an adverse effect on a major life activity caused by the disability. Functional limitations should be described in terms of how severely the activity is affected by the disability; the frequency with which the activity is affected and how pervasive the disability is in the performance of the major life activity. 
4. A description of current and past accommodations, services and/or medications and their effectiveness in relation to the functional impact of the disability. Information about any significant side effects from current treatment or medication and its effect on physical, perceptual, behavioral, and cognitive performance is helpful. 
5. A description of the expected progression or stability of the disability including the expected changes over time, information on the cyclical or episodic nature of the disability and any known suspected environmental triggers. 
6. The credentials of the evaluator/provider that are relevant to the diagnosed disability. The professional should be licensed or otherwise properly credentialed, have appropriate and comprehensive training, relevant experience, and have no personal relationship with the individual being evaluated or diagnosed. 
Although not required, professionals are invited to make recommendations for accommodations, adaptive devices, assistive services, compensatory strategies, and/or support services that are logically related to the functional limitation. College disability services offices, however, are not under any obligation to provide or adopt recommendations made by outside entities.

Your evaluator/provider is welcome to submit a letter or use the following form NDSU Verification of Disability Form.

Forms or documentation can be mailed to:
Disability Services
North Dakota State University
NDSU Dept 2860
PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050

The form or documenation can be faxed to 701-231-8520 or sent through our secure file transfer. filetransfer.ndsu.edu/filedrop/ndsu.dsdrop@ndsu.edu

Documentation for Residence Life Accommodations including Emotional Support Animals

While students provide essential information and are often experts at describing the impact of their disability, documentation from a qualifying professional or agency is an important tool used to verify and understand the functional limitations imposed by the disability. A qualified professional or agency may be 1) a disability determination from a federal, state, or local governmental agency; 2) receipt of SSDI, SSI, or disability benefits or services from another federal, state, or local agency; 3) eligibility for housing assistance or housing voucher received because of disability; or 4) information confirming disability from a healthcare professional, such as a physician, optometrist, psychiatrist, psychologist, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, or nurse.

Please note:  Documentation provided by online verification services and other providers with whom you do not have an ongoing therapeutic relationship, will likely not be accepted. Also of note, there is NO state or federal entity that requires an emotional support animal to be registered. Registering an animal with any entity is not proof of your animal’s eligibility nor helpful in getting a request for an emotional support animal approved.

Functional limitations are those that impede or limit the student’s ability to perform one or more major life activities.  Major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.  Major bodily functions are also considered major life activities.  Some examples include: functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions (U.S. Department of Labor listing of covered activities).

For the purpose of determining eligibility for disability services at NDSU, students are expected to submit documentation to Disability Services for review by a staff member.  

Documentation for Residence Life Accommodations

The providor can fill out the Reasonable Accommodation Verification Form For University Housing. They are not required to fill out the form, but they need to provide the following information:

The Fair Housing Act defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Under this definition, an impairment is a disability if it substantially limits the ability of the person to perform a major life activity as compared to the average person in the general population. The definition also takes into account any mitigating measures, such as medication or other treatment or therapies, the person is employing that may relieve the substantial limitations caused by the impairment. If the mitigating measure(s) eliminates the substantial limitations caused by the impairment, the person does not have a disability.
1. Does the resident have a disability under the above definition?
2. Date the provider initially saw this patient.
3. The date they last met with the patient.

4. Identification of  the resident’s impairment(s) and describe how each impairment substantially limits his/her ability to perform a major life activity as compared to most people in the general population.
5. Identify if the resident is using any measure (e.g., prescriptions, treatment, therapy, etc.) that mitigates the limitations caused by his/her impairment and, if so, if the mitigating measure(s) eliminates the substantial limitations.
6. Explanation on how the accommodation is necessary for the resident to use and enjoy University housing as compared to a person without a disability.
7. Identification of any other accommodation that may be equally effective in allowing the resident to use and enjoy University housing.

Name and position of Verifier
Liscense #
Clinic / Practice
Address
Telephone
Signature of Verifier
Date

Forms or documentation can be mailed to:
Disability Services
North Dakota State University
NDSU Dept 2860
PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050

The form or documenation can be faxed to 701-231-8520 or sent through our secure file transfer. filetransfer.ndsu.edu/filedrop/ndsu.dsdrop@ndsu.edu

Documentation for Emotional Support Animal

The providor can fill out the Reasonable Accommodation Verification Form For University Housing. They are not required to fill out the form, but they need to provide the following information:

The Fair Housing Act defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Under this definition, an impairment is a disability if it substantially limits the ability of the person to perform a major life activity as compared to the average person in the general population. The definition also takes into account any mitigating measures, such as medication or other treatment or therapies, the person is employing that may relieve the substantial limitations caused by the impairment. If the mitigating measure(s) eliminates the substantial limitations caused by the impairment, the person does not have a disability.
1. Does the resident have a disability under the above definition?
2. Date the provider initially saw this patient.
3. The date they last met with the patient.
4. Identification of  the resident’s impairment(s) and describe how each impairment substantially limits his/her ability to perform a major life activity as compared to most people in the general population.
5. Identify if the resident is using any measure (e.g., prescriptions, treatment, therapy, etc.) that mitigates the limitations caused by his/her impairment and, if so, if the mitigating measure(s) eliminates the substantial limitations.
6. Explanation on how the accommodation is necessary for the resident to use and enjoy University housing as compared to a person without a disability.
7. Identification of any other accommodation that may be equally effective in allowing the resident to use and enjoy University housing.
8. Description of the animal you are prescribing as an ESA, include species, breed, age, color, age, gender, name.

Name and position of Verifier
Liscense #
Clinic / Practice
Address
Telephone
Signature of Verifier
Date

Forms or documentation can be mailed to:
Disability Services
North Dakota State University
NDSU Dept 2860
PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050

The form or documenation can be faxed to 701-231-8520 or sent through our secure file transfer. filetransfer.ndsu.edu/filedrop/ndsu.dsdrop@ndsu.edu

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