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Documentation Guidelines by Impairment

Below are the University of Richmond's documentation guidelines by type of impairment. Please review the process for requesting accommodations before submitting an application for disability accommodations.

Physical Impairments

Documentation of mobility impairment should consist of a letter or report from a qualified health care professional (i.e. physician). The letter or report should include the following:

  • The type of disability
  • A statement of the functional limitation(s) caused by the disability
  • A description of the duration of functional limitation(s), such as any distance limitations
  • Whether the condition is stable or progressive
  • Whether the condition is temporary or permanent
  • Information about current medication(s) used to treat the disability
  • Possible side effects of any prescribed medication
  • Suggested recommendations for effective and reasonable accommodations

Questions or concerns can be directed to the medical/physical disability advisor: Dr. Alene Waller, Student Health Center 804-289-8064 or fax 804-287-6466.

*Adapted from: 

Jarrow, J. (1992). The ADA’s impact on postsecondary education. Columbus, OH: AHEAD.
 
Thompson Publishing Group. (1999). ADA Compliance Guide. Washington, D.C.

Visual Impairments

Visual impairments are usually defined as disorders in the structure and function of the eye as manifested by at least one of the following: visual acuity of 20/70 or less in the better eye after the best possible correction, a peripheral field so constricted that it affects one's ability to function in an educational setting, or a progressive loss of vision which may affect one's ability to function in an educational setting. Documentation of a visual impairment should consist of a letter or report from an optometrist or ophthalmologist and must include the following:

  • An explanation of the extent of the individual's visual fields
  • A specific diagnosis
  • The degree of visual acuity
  • Whether the condition is stable or progressive
  • A statement of the functional limitation(s) caused by the disability
  • Possible side effects of any prescribed aids or medication
  • Whether visual aids are recommended
  • Suggested recommendations for effective and reasonable accommodations

Questions or concerns can be directed to the medical/physical disability advisor: Dr. Alene Waller, Student Health Center 804-289-8064 or fax 804-287-6466.

Hearing Impairments

A hearing impairment is a hearing loss of thirty decibels or greater, pure tone average of 500, 1000, 2000 Hz, ANSI, unaided, in the better ear. Documentation of a hearing impairment should be in the form of a report from an audiologist. This report must include:

  • The results of an audiogram that shows the type of hearing loss (either conductive or sensory neural)
  • The degree of hearing loss
  • A specific diagnosis
  • Whether the condition is stable or progressive
  • Possible side effects of any prescribed medication
  • Whether the condition is mitigated by medication or hearing aids
  • A statement of the functional limitation(s) caused by the disability
  • Suggested recommendations for effective and reasonable accommodations

Questions or concerns can be directed to the medical/physical disability advisor: Dr. Alene Waller, Student Health Center 804-289-8064 or fax 804-287-6466.

Attention Deficit Disorder

Documentation of ADD or ADHD should be in the form of a letter or report prepared by an appropriate professional (i.e. psychiatrist, physician or psychologist) within the last three years (no prescription pad notes). Documentation with the application is submitted to the Office of Disability Services.

  • A clearly stated diagnosis using current DSM or ICD guidelines
  • A description of the symptoms that meet the criteria for the diagnosis
  • A summary of the assessment procedures and evaluation instruments that were used to make the diagnosis
  • A statement of the functional limitations of the impairment
  • Information about treatment modalities or medications to treat the disability
  • Possible side effects of any prescribed medication or treatment
  • Any other documentation (college board documentation, IEP, 504, etc.)

Questions or concerns can be directed to: Mary M. Churchill, PhD, 201 Richmond Hall, University of Richmond. Phone: 804-289-8119, fax: 804-287-1227.

Mental Health Impairments

Documentation of mental health impairments should consist of a detailed report by a qualified mental health professional (i.e. psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed clinical social worker with appropriate competencies related to the student's diagnosis). All documentation must be current, within the past year, and should include the following:

  • A complete and current DSM or ICD diagnosis with an accompanying description of the specific symptoms the student experiences
  • The diagnosis should be based upon a comprehensive clinical interview and psychological testing (when testing is clinically appropriate)
  • A complete description of the impact on academic functioning of the student's symptoms must be provided. Descriptions of the impact upon study skills, classroom behavior, test taking, and organizing research would be examples of academic functioning
  • Possible side effects of any prescribed medication
  • Whether the condition is mitigated by medication or any other form of currently prescribed treatment
  • A statement of the functional limitation(s) caused by the disorder
  • Recommended accommodations with information on how it will impact student’s functioning

Questions or concerns can be directed to: Mary M. Churchill, PhD, 201 Richmond Hall, University of Richmond. Phone: 804-289-8119, fax: 804-287-1227.

Learning Disabilities

In order to accurately determine the appropriate accommodations for students with learning disabilities, documentation should be current. To be current, the evaluation must have been completed when the student was an adult (usually older than 15) so that adult scales and instruments were used, or within the last three years.

Comprehensive Assessment

This assessment should include a diagnostic interview to determine medical, developmental, psychosocial, family, academic, and employment history (if applicable). It should include assessments of:

Intelligence: All tests must be applicable for adult populations and the evaluator should list subscale scores and, where applicable, index or cluster scores.

Cognitive Battery: A complete cognitive battery, appropriate for an adult population, with all subtest and standard scores reported should be included. Data should logically reflect a substantial limitation to learning for which the student is requesting the accommodation. The tests should be reliable, valid, and standardized for use with adolescent/adult populations. The test findings should document both the nature and severity of the disability. The following areas must be assessed:

  • Attention
  • Oral language
  • Phonological/orthographic processing
  • Fluency/automaticity
  • Memory/learning (working memory, long-term memory, and/or short-term memory)
  • Executive functions
  • Visual-perceptual/visual spatial
  • Visual-motor

Academic Achievement: A comprehensive academic achievement battery should include current levels of academic functioning in relevant areas such as reading (decoding and comprehension), mathematics, and oral and written language.

A Specific Diagnosis: Individual learning styles, learning differences, academic problems and/or test anxiety, in and of themselves, do not constitute a learning disability. The diagnostician must use specific language in the documentation, avoiding the use of such terms as "suggests" or "is indicative of." If the data indicates that a learning disability is present, the evaluator should state this conclusion in the report.

Clinical Summary: The clinical summary should include: a demonstration of the evaluators having ruled out alternative explanations for academic problems (i.e. poor education, poor motivation, emotional problems, cultural/language differences, etc.), an indication of how patterns in the student's cognitive ability, achievement, and information processing reflect the presence of a learning disability, an indication of the substantial limitation to learning or other major life activity presented by the learning disability and the degree to which it impacts the individual in the learning context for which accommodations are being requested.

Suggestions for Accommodations: It is helpful for the evaluator to include suggested accommodations based upon the clinical findings. However, the final decision of what accommodations are granted is made by the disability advisor.

The Testing Instruments: The testing instruments used to assess the student must be technically adequate and document both the nature and severity of the learning disability. The following are suggested testing instruments.

General Intelligence Tests: Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised (WAIS-IV), Woodcock-Johnson Psycho Educational Battery-III (Test of Cognitive Ability), Kaufman Adolescent and Adult Intelligence Test, Standford-Binet Intelligence Scale (4th Ed.). (Please Note: The Slosson IQ-Revised and the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test are primarily screening devices and are therefore not comprehensive measures of intelligence.)

Academic Achievement: Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults (SATA), Stanford Test of Academic Skills, Woodcock-Johnson Psycho Educational Battery-Revised: Tests of Achievement, Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT), Nelson Denny Reading Skills Test, Stanford Diagnostic Math Test, Test of Written Language, or Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests-Revised. (Please Note: The Wide Range Achievement Test-3 is not a comprehensive measure of achievement and therefore would not be helpful in the diagnostic process.)

Cognitive Battery: WAIS-R subtest, Woodcock-Johnson Psycho Educational Battery-Revised (Tests of Cognitive Ability) Detroit Tests of Learning Aptitude-3, Detroit tests of Learning Aptitude-Adult, WAIS-IV.

Questions or concerns can be directed to: Mary M. Churchill, PhD, 201 Richmond Hall, University of Richmond. Phone: 804-289-8119, fax: 804-287-1227.

Contact Disability Services

Tinina Cade, Associate Vice President
Office for Student Development
28 Westhampton Way
University of Richmond, 23173
(804) 289-8032

For Staff and Faculty

Carl Sorensen, Associate Vice President, Human Resources
urhr@richmond.edu
(804) 289-8747