Disability Documentation

Colleges differ from high schools regarding the first step of providing academic accommodations. When a person with a disability needs an academic accommodation in high school, a team of people is assigned to that student to discuss classroom instructional accommodations. This is not the case with colleges and universities. The legislation states that to receive services from a college or university, a person with a disability must first disclose their disability to the institution. In most cases, the person should disclose this to the Special Services Office.  The Director for Special Services  will ask you to bring in documentation regarding your disability. The cost of the documentation is the responsibility of the student. If the initial documentation is incomplete or inadequate to determine the extent of the disability and reasonable accommodations, the Special Services Office has the discretion to require additional documentation. The Special Services Office reserves the right to deny services or accommodations pending receipt of documentation.

The Association on Higher Education And Disability (AHEAD) has identified seven essential elements as a best practice approach for quality disability documentation. A summary of these elements is included below with the complete guidelines available at the AHEAD website: www.ahead.org/resources/bestpracticeselements.htm.

While Muskegon Community College may be able to make a decision based on less information, it is important to note the prevailing national documentation guidelines.

1. The credential of the evaluator(s)

a. Must be provided by a licensed or otherwise properly credentialed professional

b. Has appropriate and comprehensive training and experience

c.  No personal relationship with the individual being evaluated

d.  Should be a relevant match between credentials of the individual making the diagnosis and the condition being evaluated (e.g., an orthopedic limitation must be documented by a physician, but not a licensed psychologist).

2. A diagnostic statement identifying the disability

a. Clear diagnostic statement

b. Description of how the condition was diagnosed

c. Functional impact of the disability

d. Typical progression or prognosis of the condition

3. A description of the diagnostic methodology used

a. Description of the diagnostic criteria

b. Evaluation methods, procedures, tests and dates of administration

c. Clinical narrative, observation and specific results

d. Diagnostic methods congruent with the disability and current professional practices in the field are recommended

4. A description of the current functional limitations

a. How does the disabling condition currently impact the individual?

b. Must demonstrate whether and how a major life activity (i.e., walking, talking, learning, working, seeing, hearing,) is substantially limited

c. Provides a clear sense of the severity, frequency and pervasiveness of the condition(s)

d. Describes the functional limitations of the disability

5. A description of the expected progression or stability of the disability

a. Are there any expected changes in the functional impact of the disability over time and context?

b .Is the situation cyclical or episodic?

c. Are there known or suspected environmental triggers?

d. If situation is not stable, what interventions are being tried?

e. Are there recommended timelines for re-evaluation?

6. A description of current and past accommodations, services and/or medication

a. Description of current and past medications, auxiliary aids, assistive devices, support services and accommodations

b. How effective have the above been?

7. Recommendations for accommodations, adaptive devices, assistive services, compensatory strategies, and/or collateral support services.

a. Based on the stated functional limitations, what is recommended for the student in a college or university setting?