Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a “qualified individual with a disability is one who, with or without reasonable modification to rules, policies, or practices, the removal of architectural, communication, or transportation barriers, or the provision of auxiliary aids and services, meets the essential eligibility requirements for the receipt of services or participation in programs or activities provided by a public entity”.
A person with a disability is anyone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, caring for self, performing manual tasks, working, or learning.
Psychiatric/psychological disabilities (including, but not limited to, depressive, anxiety, and bipolar disorders) are considered disabilities under the ADA if a major life activity is substantially limited. A diagnosis by a licensed mental health professional, including clinical social workers (LCSW), professional counselors (LPC), psychologists, psychiatrists is required and should include the license number and date of the evaluation in the report on letterhead stationery.
Documentation from family members, immediate or otherwise, is not acceptable.
The following guidelines are provided to assist the service provider in collaborating with each student to determine appropriate accommodations. Documentation serves as a foundation that legitimizes a student’s request for appropriate accommodations.
Recommended documentation includes:
- Diagnosis (clear statement of the DSM-IV diagnosis and summary of present symptoms);
- Date of most recent evaluation. The age of acceptable documentation is dependent upon the disabling condition, the current status of the student and the student’s request for accommodations, but usually should be within one year;
- A summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis and summary of evaluations results, including standardized or percentile scores, if applicable;
- Description of current status and present symptoms;
- Description of current impact of the condition (including impact of medication);
- Treatments/medications/devices or services currently prescribed;
- Expected duration, stability, or progression of the condition;
- Functional impact or limitations of the disability on learning or other major life activity and the degree to which it impacts the individual in the learning context for which accommodations are being requested.
Further assessment by an appropriate professional may be required if co-existing learning disabilities, visual, or other disabling conditions exist.