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Disability Documentation

The Use and Purpose of Documentation

Laws that protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination and mandate the availability of accommodations to ameliorate the impact of the disability are in place in most countries. In order to determine whether an individual is entitled to these protections, post-secondary institutions typically require objective evidence (documentation) that verifies the individual’s disability.

Primary purposes of documentation in postsecondary education

  • To establish protection from discrimination:

Non-discrimination is an assurance that individuals with disabilities will not be excluded or provided lesser access to programs.

  • To determine the accommodations to which an individual may be entitled:

Reasonable accommodations include modifications to policy, procedure or practice and the provision of auxiliary aids and services that are designed to provide equal access to programs and services for qualified individuals with disabilities.

Possible accommodations

  • taped texts
  • notetakers
  • interpreters
  • readers
  • videotext displays
  • television enlargers
  • talking calculators
  • electronic readers
  • Braille calculators, printers, or typewriters
  • telephone handset amplifiers

  • closed caption decoders
  • open and closed captioning
  • voice synthesizers
  • specialized gym equipment
  • calculators or keyboards with large buttons
  • reaching device for library use
  • raised-line drawing kits
  • assistive listening devices
  • assistive listening systems
  • telecommunications devices for deaf persons

Accommodations are reasonable when they do not fundamentally alter the nature of a program or service and do not represent an undue financial or administrative burden.

The above information is taken from AHEAD best practices disability documentation in higher education at:


Documentation on file for the applicant must:

  • Clearly state the diagnosed disability or disabilities
  • Describe the functional limitations resulting from the disability or disabilities
  • Be current — i.e., completed within the last 5 years for LD, last 6 months for psychiatric disabilities, or last 3 years for ADHD and all other disabilities (NOTE: this requirement does not apply to physical or sensory disabilities of a permanent or unchanging nature)
  • Include complete educational, developmental, and medical history relevant to the disability for which testing accommodations are being requested
  • Include a list of all test instruments used in the evaluation report and relevant subtest scores used to document the stated disability (this requirement does not apply to physical or sensory disabilities of a permanent or unchanging nature)
  • Describe the specific accommodations requested
  • Adequately support each of the requested testing accommodation(s)
  • Be typed or printed on official letterhead and be signed by an evaluator qualified to make the diagnosis (include information about license or certification and area of specialization).

The above information is taken from ETS, Resources for Test Takers with Disabilities, Documentation Criteria at:

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