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The guidelines outlined below are provided to students in the interest of assuring that documentation is appropriate and verifies eligibility for Accessibility Services, and that it supports requests for reasonable accommodations and academic adjustments on the basis that the disability substantially limits one or more major life activity. A student’s documentation should validate the need for services based on the individual’s current level of functioning in the educational setting and generally falls under one of three categories:
In isolation, the Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 plan is insufficient documentation, but may be included as part of a more comprehensive assessment battery.
Testing must be comprehensive. It is not acceptable to administer only one test for the purpose of diagnosis. Diagnosis of learning disabilities must be based on analysis of the individual’s strengths as well as weaknesses. Minimally, domains to be addressed are not limited to but must include:
- Achievement. Current levels of functioning in reading, mathematics and written language are required.
- Information Processing. Specific areas of information processing (e.g., short and long-term memory; sequential memory; auditory and visual perception/processing; processing speed) must be assessed. 2. Testing must be valid. Although validity not currency is paramount, valid documentation is generally considered to be no more than three to five years old from the request for accommodation. In some instances students may be required to update an evaluation during their education at SUNY Adirondack.
- 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 the existence of a learning disability.
- Actual test scores must be provided. Standard scores and/or percentiles are acceptable. If grade equivalents are given, standard scores and/or percentiles must accompany them.
- Professionals conducting assessment and rendering diagnoses of specific learning disabilities must be qualified to do so. Trained and certified and/or licensed psychologists, learning disabilities specialist, and educational therapists are typically involved in the process of assessment. Experience in working with an adolescent and adult population is essential.
- Tests used to document eligibility must be statistically reliable and valid and standardized for use with an adult population.
- Reports must include the names, titles, and professional credentials of the evaluators as well as the date(s) of testing. All reports must be typed.
- Written summary of, or background information about the student’s educational, medical, and family histories that relate to the learning disability must be included.
- A description of any accommodation and/or auxiliary aid that has been used at the secondary or postsecondary level may be discussed. Include information about the specific conditions under which the accommodation was used. (e.g., standardized testing, final exams) and whether or not it benefited the student. If no accommodations have been previously provided, a detailed explanation as to why none has been used and the rationale for the student currently needing accommodation(s) must be provided.
Request for reasonable accommodations, auxiliary aids and academic adjustments on the basis of a psychological, medical or physical disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities which might include but are not limited to: learning, concentrating, seeing, hearing, speaking, walking, breathing, sleeping and/or working must meet the following guidelines.
Comprehensive and detailed information documenting a psychological, medical or physical disability and the need for services must be certified by a licensed physician, psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, neurologist, speech pathologist or other appropriate professional. SUNY Adirondack reserves the right to determine the nature and extent of reasonable accommodations, thus additional documentation may be requested to assist in identifying appropriate reasonable accommodations.
Documentation should include:
- A clear diagnostic (DSM V) statement including a description of the duration and severity of condition.
- A summary of the current impact of (or limitation imposed by) the disability on a major life activity and how the impact may manifest within the college setting.
- A summary of diagnostic methodology or assessment procedures used to make the diagnosis.
- A statement regarding symptoms, symptomatic fluctuations, ongoing treatments and prognosis.
- Currently prescribed medications if the side effects of such medications create barriers to learning.
- Suggested accommodations linked to the above information that may reduce barriers presented by the condition.
- The name, title, address and phone number of certifying professional(s) including date of diagnosis and/or evaluation.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
A qualified professional must conduct evaluations. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is considered a medical or clinical diagnosis. Individuals qualified to render a diagnosis for this disorder are practitioners who have been trained in the differential diagnosis of ADHD and are experienced with an adolescent and adult ADHD population. Recommended practitioners may include licensed clinical or educational psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologist, developmental pediatricians, family physicians, or a combination of such professionals. Further assessment by an appropriate professional may be required if co-existing learning disabilities are indicated.
- Documentation should be current. Preferably this means that a diagnostic evaluation has been completed within the last three years. (The age of acceptable documentation is dependent upon the disabling condition, the current status of the student and the student’s specific request for accommodation.)
- Documentation should be comprehensive. A clear statement of ADD/ADHD according to the DSM-V diagnosis, a description of present symptoms and, if pertinent, past symptoms must be detailed. The diagnostician should use direct language in the diagnosis of ADD/ADHD, avoiding the use of such terms as “suggests”, “is indicative of”, or “attention problems.” Individuals who report only problems with organization, test anxiety, memory or concentration in selective situations often do not fit the prescribed diagnostic criteria for ADHD.
- A narrative summary must be presented, which includes: Assessment procedures and evaluation instruments, including all test scores and sub-scores used to make the diagnosis.
a. The functional limitations and impairments related to the diagnosis and medical treatment of the condition, including medication (if prescribed, include dosages and schedules of medication) which affect the student’s current level of functioning in the postsecondary environment;
b. Suggestions of reasonable accommodations that might be appropriate at the postsecondary level are encouraged. These recommendations should be supported by the diagnosis.
If requested accommodations are not clearly identified in the diagnostic report, the Director of Accessibility Services will seek clarification, and if necessary, more information. The Director will make the final determination of whether appropriate and reasonable accommodations are warranted and can be provided to the individual.
Deaf, Hearing Impaired, and Hard of Hearing
Students requesting accommodations on the basis of deafness or profound hearing loss must provide documentation consisting of:
- A current diagnosis of hearing impairment including severity of hearing loss. Current usually means within the last five years.
- An interpretation of the functional implications of the diagnostic data and hearing aid evaluation, when appropriate.
- Suggestions as to how the functionally limiting manifestations of the disabling condition(s) may be accommodated
- A historical summary of previous accommodations applied in academic settings and their effectiveness on the student’s learning.
SUNY Adirondack recognizes there are a variety of conditions which may result in the need for accommodative services that do not be included in the categories outlined above such as traumatic brain injury, chronic physical conditions, developmental disorders, Autistic spectrum disorders, etc. In all cases, however, the student must submit documentation provided by a qualified clinician identifying the disabling condition and outlining the impact the condition has on a major life activity. Students are welcome to contact Accessibility Services to discuss specific questions or concerns.