Disability Documentation Practices


Sources and Forms of Documentation

Acceptable sources of documentation for substantiating a student’s disability and request for particular accommodations can take a variety of forms.  Any individual or combination of the information outlined below may be sufficient for establishing disability and a need for accommodation.

Student’s Self-report

A student’s description of his or her experience of disability, barriers, and effective and ineffective accommodations which can be obtained through structured interview or questionnaire and interpreted by experienced disability professionals. 

Observation and Interaction

The impressions and conclusions formed by higher education disability professionals during interviews and conversations with students or in evaluating the effectiveness of previously implemented or provisional accommodations are important forms of documentation. 

Information from External or Third Parties

Documentation from external sources may include educational or medical records, reports and assessments created by health care providers, school psychologists, teachers, or the educational system such as multifactorial, psycho-educational or other evaluations. This information is inclusive of documents that reflect education and accommodation history, such as Individual Education Program (IEP), 504 Accommodation Plans, Summary of Performance (SOP), teacher observations, and other reports of past accommodations.

General Guidelines

  • The best quality documentation is provided by a licensed or otherwise properly credentialed professional who has undergone appropriate and comprehensive training, has relevant experience, and has no personal relationship with the individual being evaluated. 
  • Quality documentation includes a clear diagnostic statement that describes how the condition was diagnosed, provides information on the functional impact, and details the typical progression or prognosis of the condition.  This should include a description of the diagnostic criteria, evaluation methods, procedures, tests and dates of administration, as well as a clinical narrative, observation, and specific results.  If the condition is not stable, information on interventions (including the individual’s own strategies) for exacerbations and recommended timelines for re-evaluation are most helpful.
  • Include information on how the disabling condition(s) currently impacts the individual, taking into account the individual’s self-report, the results of formal evaluation procedures, and clinical narrative to provide necessary information for identifying possible accommodations
  • A description of current and past accommodations, services, medications (and side-effects), auxiliary aids, assistive devices, and support services, including their effectiveness.   While accommodations provided in another setting are not binding on the current institution, they may provide insight in making current decisions.
  • Recommendations for accommodations, services, auxiliary aids, assistive devices, compensatory strategies and support services and a logical relationship to their functional limitations
  • Formal reports should be submitted in English, on signed-dated letterhead.
  • Resources for your diagnostician may include the current editions of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, documentation guidelines for standardized testing (PRAXIS, MPRE, GRE, GMAT, LSAT, etc.).

Cost of Testing

Costs associated with diagnosing, evaluating, and testing or retesting are the responsibility of the student.  For students currently enrolled at the University of Dayton, information and referral to the student Health and Counseling Center and/or other professionals in the community may be appropriate.  It is the student’s responsibility to verify if the professional’s qualifications and ability to provide necessary information on their specific disability, if known.