General documentation guidelines for persons with disabilities:
Students seeking academic accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 should register with Sam Houston State University's Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD), part of the SHSU Counseling Center. In order for students with disabilities to be eligible for academic accommodations and adjustments, they need to provide documentation that shows evidence of a "substantially limiting" disability as defined by the federal legislation noted above. This documentation must be from a qualified professional who is licensed or certified to diagnose the disability in question. All tests used to document eligibility must be technically sound and standardized. All documentation should be recent enough to reflect the student's current level of functioning and contain, at a minimum, the following:
- A specific diagnostic statement identifying the disability including severity and date of current diagnostic evaluation.
- Specific findings which support this diagnosis including relevant history, tests administered, test results, and interpretation of those test results.
- Information concerning the impact of the disability on the educational setting including a description of the functional limitations due to the disability.
- The documentation must be on letterhead, typed, dated, signed, and include the evaluator's name, address, telephone number, and professional credentials.
The aforementioned points are general requirements for all documentation packets, however, additional information for different disabilities may be required. (See the documentation requirements below for specific disabilities.) Individual Educational Plans (IEP) are valuable resources of information but cannot be used as documentation of a disability. SSD reserves the right to request additional information or evaluation. An annual update may also be required for certain disabilities.
SSD does not provide evaluation services. It is the responsibility of the student to pay for the cost of an evaluation from an outside source.
Documentation for a Learning Disability should include the following information:
1. Testing must be comprehensive. It is not acceptable to administer only one test for the purpose of diagnosis. Minimally, domains to be addressed must include, but are not limited to:
a. Psycho-educational and medical history.
b. Intellectual Assessment in standard scores. Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) with subtest scores is the preferred instrument. Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-educational Battery-Revised: Test of Cognitive Ability or Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale – Fourth Edition are acceptable.
c. Achievement tests in standard scores. Current levels of functioning in reading, mathematics, and written language are required. Acceptable instruments include Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-educational Battery – Revised: Tests of Achievement and Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT). The Wide Range Achievement Test-3 (WRAT-3) is not a comprehensive measure of achievement and, therefore, is not suitable as the sole measure of achievement.
d. Cognitive processing abilities tests in standard scores. Specific areas of information processing (e.g., short- and long-term memory, sequential memory, auditory and visual perception/processing, and processing speed) must be assessed. Information from subtests on the WAIS or clusters on the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Ability may be used to address these areas.
2. Actual test scores must be provided in standard score format. The assessment must show evidence of discrepancies and intra-individual differences that results in substantial functional limitations to learning. There must be clear and specific evidence and identification of a learning disability. Individual "learning styles" and "learning differences" in and of themselves do not constitute a learning disability.
Documentation for Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder should include the following information:
- Clinical interview by a qualified professional including educational and medical history.
- A list of questionnaires, interviews, and observations used to identify the AD/HD behaviors.
- A medical or clinical diagnosis of AD/HD including rationale for the diagnosis.
- Information regarding the impact of AD/HD on the education setting, including functional limitations.
Types of accommodations
Accommodations are decided based upon documentation and need on a case-by-case basis. Typical accommodations include, but are not limited to:
- Extended time for exams.
- A volunteer student note taker.
- Provision for sign language interpreting services.
- Special seating.
- Large print exams.