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Students requesting accommodations and/or support services under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and/or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 must provide documentation of the existence of a disability which substantially limits a major life activity. In order to accurately determine the appropriate accommodations, the documentation should be current on letterhead including the contact information of the medical professional. In, in the case of a learning disability current is typically considered within 3 years and/or since the student turned sixteen. It may be appropriate to extend this regulation based upon the diagnosis and accommodation requested. Please see below for examples of some documentation requirements based upon the diagnosis:

Learning Disability

Documentation should include a clear statement of the diagnosis including the DSM-IV code, A summary of functional limitations resulting from the disorder which may include but not be limited to: communication or language skills; social interaction; restricted, repetitive and/or stereotypical patterns of behavior and activities; sensory functioning and sensitivity to environmental conditions. Comprehensive testing based on adult norms where applicable and should include the following:

  1. Qualifications of the evaluator – Name and professional credentials of the evaluator must be present in the documentation. The evaluations must be performed by a licensed psychologist with training and experience in the evaluation of the adolescent/adult psychiatric disorders. Specifically, their expertise should be in the area of the diagnosis, ADD – ADHD, educational assessments, etc. The name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator, including information about license or certification as well as the area of specialization, employment, and state/province.
  2. Comprehensive assessment – An explanation of the evaluative instruments used to reach the diagnosis must be provided and typically include
    • Cognitive Assessments – A complete battery, appropriate for an adult population, with all subtest and standard scores, reported. One of the following would be required: Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised (WAIS-R), Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery-Revised, Test of Cognitive Ability, Kaufman Adolescent and Adult Intelligence Tests.
    • Achievement – A complete battery relevant to area(s) of suspected disability(s), often to include a reading assessment, with all subtests and standard scores reported. Examples of commonly used tools are: Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery- revised. Tests of Achievement, Stanford Test of Academic Skills (TASK), Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT), and

3. Impact on educational functioning – A complete description of the impact of the diagnosis on the student’s academic functioning must be provided. Examples of academic functioning would include the impact upon study skills, classroom behavior, test-taking and organizing research.

4. Recommended accommodations – Any requested accommodations should be consistent with the information provided in the sections described above.

The provided test information should include an educational, developmental, and mental history relevant to the disability. It must include a list of all tests administered in the evaluation report and must include all relevant subtest scores used to document the disability. The report must include a diagnosis of the disability. It should describe how the disability affects one or more of life’s activities and should describe the specific accommodations required. Again, the documentation should adequately support each of the requested accommodations. The documentation should be typed or printed on official letterhead and be signed by an evaluator qualified to make the diagnosis. This report should include information about the license or certification and area of the organization. Demonstration of the evaluator’s having ruled out alternative explanations for academic problems as a result of poor education, poor motivation, and/or study skills, emotional problems, attention problems, and cultural language differences.

Psychiatric Impairment

At a minimum, the documentation should address the following items:

  1. A clear statement of the diagnosis including the DSM-IV code.
  2. A summary of all tests conducted and their results. Reference should be made to scores and rating scales/testing instruments used to support the diagnosis. Neuropsychological and psychoeducational testing is recommended in order to determine the effects of the impairment on a student in an academic setting.
  3. A statement of the psychiatric impairment with a description of symptoms that support the DSM-IV criteria. The date of the original diagnosis and the date of the last contact with the student should be included. Documentation older than three years will not be accepted.
  4. A statement of the degree of the psychiatric impairment affects a student in an academic setting as well as any functional impact on the student’s daily life.
  5. A description of any referrals for testing/evaluation or other treatment
  6. A description of any prescribed medication and potential side effects.
  7. A summary of suggested accommodations based on the diagnosed disability

Traumatic Brain Injury

Students submitting documentation of a traumatic brain injury (e.g., head trauma, CVA’s, tumors, other medical conditions) must submit evidence of a disability condition in addition to a summary of functional impacts of the disability.

  1. A clear statement of the traumatic brain injury, including historical information regarding the injury and the probable site that is affected
  2. The documentation of the injury must be at least three years current to be accepted. Thomas More University reserves the right to require additional documentation if deemed necessary.
  3. Any additional medical information including but not limited to medications and their side effects.
  4. A summary of suggested accommodations based on the diagnosed disability

Deaf & Hard of Hearing

  1. A current audiogram with a clear statement of deafness or hearing loss.
  2. A summary of assessment, procedures, and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis and a description of the results
  3. The status of the student’s hearing (static or changing) and its impact on the student in an academic setting
  4. A statement regarding the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants.
  5. A summary of suggested accommodations based on the diagnosed disability

Visual Impairments

  1. The clear statement of the specific medical condition which causes the visual impairment
  2. The degree of visual acuity and extent of the visual fields, including with corrective lenses
  3. Whether the condition is temporary or permanent, and if it is stable or progressive
  4. A description of any medications taken for the condition and their side effects
  5. A description of the functional limitations of the visual impairment
  6. A summary of suggested accommodations based on the diagnosed disability

Other Medical Conditions

  1. Clear statement of the medical condition
  2. The procedures and evaluation instruments used to determine the diagnosis and a summary of the results
  3. A statement of the current functional impact on learning and how it affects the individual in an academic setting
  4. A summary of suggested accommodations for the student based upon the diagnosed disability

Temporary Disabilities

To receive accommodations for a temporary disability, the student must submit documentation to Academic Support Services indicating the type of disability, severity, limitations, prognosis, and estimated duration. A list of any medications the student is taking and how these may affect their academic performance. The documentation must be current in order to accepted and reviewed. Thomas More University reserves the right to request additional documentation before providing accommodations.

Policies

Thomas More University acts in accordance with two relevant laws: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states:

A person with a disability is an individual with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities include caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, working, and learning.

An individual is considered to be a person with a disability if he/she (1) has a disability, (2) has a history of a disability or (3) is perceived by others as having a disability.

A qualified person with a disability is defined as a person who meets the requisite academic and technical standards required for admission or participation in the post-secondary institution’s programs and activities.

Under the provisions of Section 504, Thomas More University may not:

  • Limit the admission of otherwise qualified students with disabilities;
  • Make pre-admission inquiries as to whether an applicant has a disability;
  • Exclude an otherwise qualified student with a disability from any course of study;
  • Provide less financial assistance to students with disabilities than is provided to other students;
  • Measure student achievement using modes that adversely discriminate against a student with a disability; or
  • Establish rules and policies that have the effect of limiting participation of students with disabilities in educational programs or activities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is civil rights legislation that extends the anti-discrimination legislation of Section 504 to all institutions of higher education whether or not they receive federal financial assistance. The purpose of this act is to provide a clear and comprehensive mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities. This statute became effective for public entities on January 26, 1992. It provides comprehensive civil rights protection to individuals with disabilities in the areas of employment, state and local governments, public accommodations and telecommunications.

Confidentiality

Student records are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Additionally, Disability Services and all offices at Thomas More respects the confidential nature of disability-related information. Thomas More University and Disability Service have an obligation to maintain the confidentiality of such documentation.

Access by University personnel to disability-related information housed in Disability Services is on a need-to-know basis and only for the purpose of assuring appropriate accommodations. Instructors are regularly described of the confidential nature of disability-related information shared with them. Accommodation letters prepared by Disability Services for instructors do not give specific diagnoses. Instead, the letters explain that the student has provided appropriate documentation of a disability and lists the approved academic accommodations for that student.

In terms of a legitimate, educational need-to-know basis, Disability Services may discuss the impact or impairments caused by the disability and the corresponding accommodations approved with appropriate individuals on campus. Circumstances may include housing arrangements, academic accommodations, instructional strategies, and resources, or other circumstances specific to the individual.

Thomas More University and Disability Services are prohibited by law from releasing any disability-related records or personally identifying information to any entity outside The University. This includes documentation provided to Disability Services by the student unless the student provides written permission or there is a court order. Entities outside The University include parents of students over the age of 18. A specific release of information must be signed and on file giving the Registrar granting permission to discuss student-specific information with parents.

FERPA

Records relating to students with disabilities are education records protected by FERPA. Disability records must be maintained separately from other education records because of the sensitive and private information contained in them. The best practice is to maintain student disability records in the institution’s disability services office. Access to these records is on a need-to-know basis. Faculty will generally not need to know specific information regarding a student’s disability. NOTE: Student medical records provided to an institution during the disability accommodation process are not education records, but have separate protections under state law.

Any questions related to accommodations and documentation should be directed to disability@thomasmore.edu