Documentation: What Is It? When Is It Required? Why Should I Consider Assessment or Reassessment?
What is Documentation?
Documentation is the report that is generated by the professional who has diagnosed an individual’s disability. It provides the official basis of the student’s claim that he or she is a person with a disabling condition.
This report usually discusses:
- testing used to diagnose the condition
- the diagnosis
- the student’s strengths and weaknesses
- the impact if the disability on affected major life activities
- recommendations for reasonable accommodations.
The law allows the college to request this documentation when the student requests accommodations. However, at Empire State College, proof of a disability is not required for most accommodation requests. Typical accommodations include requests for extended time, note taker support for residencies and study groups and sign language interpreters, among others.
The following accommodations require documentation:
- Reader's Aid Funds application
- ADA Part-Time TAP eligibility
- alternatively formatted text books, i.e., e-text from the publishers or audio books.
In addition, your center disability representative may determine that more information is needed when reviewing your request for accommodations.
In those instances, your request for accommodations will be forwarded to the Office of Collegewide Disability Services for review. The office will request that you forward documentation of your disability to process the request.
If you have not been diagnosed with a disabling condition and suspect you have one, or if your current documentation is old, you may want to be (re)tested for the presence of a disability.
- While Empire State College does not require documentation of a disability for most accommodation requests, proof of a disability may be required for certain accommodation requests at other institutions, by future employers or for participation in a specialized program for individuals with disabilities.
- The law does not require the college to identify and evaluate students who may have disabilities; nor does it require the college to compensate students for money spent on testing for the presence of a disability. It is the student's responsibility to determine whether or not a disability is present.
Acceptable Documentation Guidelines
When requested, students must submit documentation that meets the following criteria:
- is recent for that disability (typically no more than five years old)
- is prepared by an individual qualified to make the diagnosis and includes the diagnostician’s credentials
- includes the manner used to evaluate the student, including any standardized testing measures and scores obtained
- provides a diagnosis
- discusses the diagnosis and the student’s ability to perform major life activities
- recommends reasonable accommodations.
All documentation is housed in the Office of Collegewide Disability Services at the coordinating center in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. with access restricted to those with an educational need to know, in accordance with federal law.
Accommodations in the Workplace
According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):
- an employer may ask the individual for reasonable documentation about his/her disability and functional limitations. The employer is entitled to know that the individual has a covered disability for which she or he needs a reasonable accommodation.
- an employer may require that the documentation about the disability and the functional limitations come from an appropriate health-care or rehabilitation professional. The appropriate professional in any particular situation will depend on the disability and the type of functional limitation it imposes. Appropriate professionals include, but are not limited to:
- doctors (including psychiatrists)
- physical therapists
- occupational therapists
- speech therapists
- vocational rehabilitation specialists
- licensed mental health professionals.
Taken from: Enforcement Guidance: Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Number 915.002, October 17, 2002..
Students may be employed in environments that have disability-documentation policies that are different from those at Empire State College, thus necessitating the need for documentation.