Documentation Guidelines

An Important Note on Documentation

The documentation guidelines outlined below provide a framework designed to be helpful to students and their evaluators in preparing appropriate documentation to support the student’s request(s), and to the Office of Accessible Education and Student Support to be able to make informed decisions about accommodations. However, it is important to note that accommodation requests are approached on an individual basis and documentation may vary by situation. While documentation of disability is required, it is one component of an interactive process that includes a conversation with the student as well as additional relevant information. Information the student can provide about past use of accommodations and disability-related barriers they are experiencing or anticipate experiencing will also be helpful.

Current and incoming students who do not have documentation of disability, have documentation that is not current, or does not meet the suggested guidelines, should still schedule a meeting with the Assistant Dean of Accessible Education and Student Support. Documentation can be discussed during the initial meeting– no student should delay initiating a request out of concern for not having the appropriate paperwork.

General Documentation Guidelines

Students who wish to request an accommodation(s) should submit documentation that:

  • Establishes a disability
  • Details the current functional impact of that disability
  • Confirms the need for each accommodation requested
  • Establishes a direct link between the underlying disability and the requested accommodation

In general, documentation should be recent enough to assess the current impact on learning or a major life activity, although how recent will vary depending upon the nature of the impairment. The documentation must be issued by a medical or other qualified, licensed professional, printed on letterhead, dated, signed, and include the professional’s current contact and licensing information. No information may be redacted.

A diagnostic statement alone is generally not sufficient to establish eligibility for accommodations. It is not considered appropriate for professionals to evaluate members of their families and documentation from a family member will not be accepted. Bates reserves the right to require that a certified copy of the documentation be transmitted directly from the evaluator or professional to the college.

In addition to a current assessment, students are encouraged to submit any past documentation or materials that establish a history of receiving appropriate accommodations in a previous academic setting when available. Secondary school accommodation plans such as IEPs or 504 Plans are helpful, but often do not provide sufficient information to establish eligibility for the requested accommodations at the college level when submitted without a corresponding evaluation. It is the student’s responsibility to pay for any costs associated with obtaining sufficient current documentation. Limited funding may be available for students with demonstrated need.

For housing accommodation requests, students should submit the Housing Accommodations Request Form. Please note that in some instances, information or documentation in addition to this form may be required for housing accommodation requests. Please visit the Residence Life and Housing Accommodations page for more information.

A copy of the student’s documentation is maintained by the Assistant Dean of Accessible Education and Student Support for seven years from the time the student graduates or leaves the college. Original copies are not always maintained. Diagnostic information and documentation are not shared with other administrators or faculty members without the student’s informed consent, except on a need-to-know basis, or where otherwise required by law.

Specific Documentation Guidelines

The following guidelines, organized by disability category, exist to assist students and their health care providers in preparing appropriate documentation to support the student’s requests. In assessing a request, the documentation a student submits will be considered along with other factors, such as an interview with the student and their past history of accommodation use. The age of the documentation required is generally dependent on the type of disability and whether the impact of the condition on the student is static or changing.

Documentation Guidelines for Autism Spectrum Disorders

I. Evaluator’s Qualifications

Professionals conducting assessments and rendering a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder must be qualified to do so. The following professionals would generally be considered qualified to submit documentation, provided they have comprehensive training in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders: developmental pediatricians, neurologists, clinical psychologists, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists or other qualified medical doctors.

Reports from a professional should be submitted on letterhead and include the following:

• Name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator
• Information about license or certification as well as the area of specialization
• Number of years employed in current field
• State/province in which the individual practices

II. Documentation: Age and Contents

The provision of reasonable accommodations is based upon assessment of the current impact of the student’s disability on his or her academic performance. Therefore, documentation should generally not be more than three years old.

Documentation should be based on a comprehensive assessment and should include a detailed description of the following:

A. Specific Diagnosis

The evaluation must include a specific diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder (pervasive developmental disorder) based on the current DSM diagnostic criteria. The evaluator should provide a rationale and comprehensive supportive data to substantiate this diagnosis.

B. Evidence of Current Impairment

The evaluation should assess the impact of the student’s symptoms in and out of the classroom setting. It is important that the evaluation addresses the severity and frequency of the symptoms, and indicates whether the symptoms constitute an impairment of a major life activity.

C. Alternative Diagnoses

The assessment should examine and discuss the possibility of co-existing and/or alternative diagnoses, including learning and psychological disorders.

III. Specific Accommodation Recommendations

The documentation must contain specific recommendations for accommodations that are tied to the current functional limitations of the student. Each accommodation recommended by the evaluator must include a rationale. Recommended accommodations should be pertinent to the anticipated academic environment.

Documentation Guidelines for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders

I. Evaluator’s Qualifications

Professionals conducting assessments and rendering diagnoses of Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD) or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD) must have training in differential diagnosis and the full range of psychiatric disorders. The following professionals would generally be considered qualified to submit documentation, provided they have comprehensive training in the differential diagnosis of ADD/ADHD and direct experience with an adolescent or adult ADD/ADHD population: clinical psychologists,
neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, or other qualified medical doctors.

Reports from a professional should be submitted on letterhead and include the following:

• Name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator
• Information about license or certification as well as the area of specialization
• Number of years employed in current field
• State/province in which the individual practices

II. Documentation: Age and Contents

The provision of reasonable accommodations is based upon assessment of the current impact of the student’s disability on his or her academic performance. Therefore, documentation should generally not be more than three years old.

Documentation must be based on a comprehensive psychoeducational assessment and/or clinical evaluation and should include a detailed description of the following:

A. Specific Diagnosis

The evaluation must include a specific diagnosis of ADD/ADHD (including the subtype) based on the current DSM diagnostic criteria. The evaluator should provide a rationale and comprehensive supportive data to substantiate this diagnosis.

B. Evidence of Early Impairment

Because ADD/ADHD is, by definition, first exhibited in childhood and manifests itself in more than one setting, a developmental and academic history must be provided. For students making requests who do not have a history of using accommodations in previous academic environments, and/or a history of an official diagnosis in childhood, an explanation of factors that delayed the diagnosis and/or the request for accommodations is essential.

C. Evidence of Current Impairment

Diagnostic assessment should consist of more than a self-report; a history of symptoms, including evidence of ongoing impulsive/hyperactive or inattentive behavior that has significantly impaired functioning over time, should be discussed. The assessment should include information about the impact of the symptoms on the student’s functioning in and out of the classroom setting. It is important that the evaluation addresses the severity and frequency of the symptoms, and indicates whether the symptoms constitute an impairment of a major life activity.

Evaluations that only report difficulty with test-taking as evidence of current impairment usually do not meet the diagnostic criteria for ADD/ADHD.

D. Alternative Diagnoses

The assessment should examine the possibility of co-existing and/or alternative diagnoses, including medical and psychiatric disorders, as well as educational and cultural factors, which may impact the individual and could result in behaviors mimicking ADD/ADHD.

III. Specific Accommodation Recommendations

The documentation must contain specific recommendations for accommodations that are tied to the current functional limitations of the student. Each accommodation recommended by the evaluator must include a rationale. Recommended accommodations should be pertinent to the anticipated academic environment.

Documentation Guidelines for Blindness or Visual Impairments

I. Evaluator’s Qualifications:

The medical professional providing the documentation should have comprehensive training and expertise in treating vision loss, and appropriate licensure/certification. Such professionals include ophthalmologists and optometrists.

Reports from the professional should be submitted on letterhead and include the following:

• Name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator
• Information about license or certification as well as the area of specialization
• Number of years employed in current field
• State/province in which the individual practices

II. Documentation: Age and Contents

The age of acceptable documentation is dependent upon the disabling condition, whether or not the condition is permanent or will change over time, and the student’s request for accommodations. The documentation should address the student’s current level of functioning. If the disability is a permanent, lifelong impairment (e.g., blindness), documentation may not need to be as recent, but specific recommendations for the current academic setting should still be provided by a qualified professional.

Documentation should include a detailed description of the following:

A. A diagnosis of a visual impairment (or medical condition currently causing visual limitation).

B. Information on the student’s present symptoms and limitations, and how those symptoms impact the student inside and outside of the classroom setting.

C. A discussion of the status (static or changing) of the student’s condition.

III. Specific Accommodation Recommendations

The documentation must contain specific recommendations for accommodations that are tied to the current functional limitations of the student. Each accommodation recommended by the evaluator must include a rationale. Recommended accommodations should be pertinent to the anticipated academic environment.

Documentation Guidelines for Deafness and Hearing Impairments

I. Evaluator’s Qualifications:

The medical professional providing the documentation should have comprehensive training and expertise in treating hearing loss, and appropriate licensure/certification. Such professionals may include audiologists, otolaryngologists, and other speech and hearing specialists.

Reports from the professional should be submitted on letterhead and include the following:

• Name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator
• Information about license or certification as well as the area of specialization
• Number of years employed in current field
• State/province in which the individual practices

II. Documentation: Age and Contents

The age of acceptable documentation is dependent upon the disabling condition, whether or not the condition is permanent or will change over time, and the student’s request for accommodations. The documentation should address the student’s current level of functioning. If the disability is a permanent, lifelong impairment (e.g., deafness), documentation may not need to be as recent, but specific recommendations for the current academic setting should still be provided by a qualified professional.

Documentation should include a detailed description of the following:

A. A diagnosis of deafness or hearing loss.

B. Information on the student’s present symptoms and limitations, and how those symptoms impact the student inside and outside of the classroom setting.

C. A discussion of the status (static or changing) of the student’s condition.

D. If pertinent, a copy of the most recent audiogram or audiometric report.

III. Specific Accommodation Recommendations

The documentation must contain specific recommendations for accommodations that are tied to the current functional limitations of the student. Each accommodation recommended by the evaluator must include a rationale. Recommended accommodations should be pertinent to the anticipated academic environment.

Documentation Guidelines for Traumatic Brain Injury

I. Evaluator’s Qualifications:

The following professionals are generally considered qualified to submit documentation, provided they have training in the diagnosis and treatment of TBI: neurologists, clinical psychologists, rehabilitation psychologists, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, and other qualified medical doctors.

Reports from the professional should be submitted on letterhead and include the following:

• Name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator
• Information about license or certification as well as the area of specialization
• Number of years employed in current field
• State/province in which the individual practices

II. Documentation: Age and Contents

Students should submit an evaluation that was performed at least six months after the acute injury phase, but not more than four years prior to the date of requesting accommodations. If the student has sustained a head injury in the past six months, recovery may still be taking place and documentation may need to be updated more frequently.

Documentation should be based on a neuropsychological assessment and should include the following:

A. Specific diagnosis

The documentation should include a specific diagnosis of traumatic brain injury. The evaluator should provide a rationale and comprehensive supportive data to substantiate this diagnosis.

B. Evidence of Current Impairment

The evaluation should include information about the impact of the symptoms on the student’s functioning in and out of the classroom setting. It is important that the evaluation addresses the severity and frequency of the symptoms, and indicates whether the symptoms constitute an impairment of a major life activity.

C. Alternative Diagnoses

The assessment should examine and discuss the possibility of co-existing and/or alternative diagnoses, including learning and psychological disorders.

III. Specific Accommodation Recommendations

The documentation must contain specific recommendations for accommodations that are tied to the current functional limitations of the student. Each accommodation recommended by the evaluator must include a rationale. Recommended accommodations should be pertinent to the anticipated academic environment.

Documentation Guidelines for Learning Disabilities

I. Evaluator’s Qualifications

The following professionals are generally considered qualified to submit documentation, provided they have comprehensive training and relevant experience in assessing learning disabilities in adolescents and adults: clinical psychologists, educational psychologists, school psychologists, and neuropsychologists.

Reports from the professional should be submitted on letterhead and include the following:

• Name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator
• Information about license or certification as well as the area of specialization
• Number of years employed in current field
• State/province in which the individual practices

II. Documentation: Age and Contents

The provision of reasonable accommodations is based upon assessment of the current impact of the student’s disability on his or her academic performance. Therefore, documentation should generally not be more than four years old. Evaluations must include age-appropriate instruments and norms.

Documentation must be based on a comprehensive psychoeducational assessment. Students who submit documentation that is more than four years old may be permitted to supplement the report with a letter detailing the student’s current limitations in the academic setting, rather than obtaining a new full battery of testing. This determination will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Documentation should include a detailed description of the following:

A. Specific Diagnosis

The report must include a specific diagnosis based on the current DSM diagnostic criteria. Individual “learning styles,” or “test difficulty or anxiety” generally do not constitute a learning disability. Evaluators are encouraged to use direct language and to avoid indirect expressions such as “suggests,” “is indicative of,” or “is consistent with.”

B. Diagnostic Interview

The report should provide a summary of the diagnostic interview that includes: a description of the presenting problem(s); developmental history; academic history, including results of prior standardized testing; reports of classroom performance; relevant family history; relevant psychosocial history; and a discussion of any pre-existing or co-existing diagnoses.

C. Assessment

Objective evidence of a substantial limitation to learning must be provided. The domains to be addressed must include the following:

1. Aptitude/Cognitive Ability

A complete intellectual assessment with all subtests and standard scores reported is essential.

2. Academic Achievement

A comprehensive academic achievement battery is essential, with all subtests and standard scores reported for those subtests administered. The battery must include current levels of functioning in relevant areas such as reading (decoding and comprehension), mathematics, and oral and written language.

3. Cognitive and Information Processing

Specific areas of information processing (e.g., short and long memory; sequential memory; auditory and visual perception/processing; processing speed; executive functioning; motor ability) should be addressed.

The particular profile of the student’s strengths and weaknesses should reflect the functional limitations that necessitate the recommended accommodations.

Other assessment measures, such as classroom tests and informal assessment procedures or observations may be helpful in determining performance across a variety of domains. Other formal assessment measures may be integrated with the above instruments to help differentiate the LD from coexisting neurological and/or psychiatric disorders (i.e., to establish a differential diagnosis). In addition to standardized tests, it is also useful to include informal observations of the student during test administration.

D. Clinical Summary

The report should include an interpretive summary that indicates:

• That the evaluator ruled out alternative explanations for academic problems as a result of poor education, poor motivation and/or study skills, emotional problems, problems with attention, and cultural/language differences.

• How patterns in the student’s cognitive ability, achievement, and information processing reflect the presence of a learning disability.

• The substantial limitation to learning or other major life activity presented by the learning disability and degree to which it impacts the individual in the learning context for which accommodations are being requested.

III. Specific Accommodation Recommendations

The documentation must contain specific recommendations for accommodations that are tied to the current functional limitations of the student. Each accommodation recommended by the evaluator must include a rationale. Recommended accommodations should be pertinent to the anticipated academic environment.

Documentation Guidelines for Physical and Chronic Medical Disabilities

I. Evaluator’s Qualifications:

The medical professional providing the documentation should have comprehensive training and expertise in the relevant specialty.

Reports from the professional should be submitted on letterhead and include the following:

• Name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator
• Information about license or certification as well as the area of specialization
• Number of years employed in current field
• State/province in which the individual practices

II. Documentation: Age and Contents

The age of acceptable documentation is dependent upon the disabling condition, whether or not the condition is permanent or will change over time, and the student’s request for accommodations. The documentation should generally not be more than a year old and should address the student’s current level of functioning. If the disability is a permanent, lifelong impairment (e.g., cerebral palsy, diabetes), documentation may not need to be as recent, but specific recommendations for the current academic setting should still be provided by a qualified professional.

Documentation should include the following:

A. A medical diagnosis

B. An assessment of the severity and frequency of the student’s symptoms, including how those symptoms impact the student inside and outside the classroom setting, and whether the symptoms constitute an impairment of a major life activity

C. A discussion of the status (static or changing) of the student’s condition

III. Specific Accommodation Recommendations

The documentation must contain specific recommendations for accommodations that are tied to the current functional limitations of the student. Each accommodation recommended by the evaluator must include a rationale. Recommended accommodations should be pertinent to the anticipated academic environment.

Documentation Guidelines for Psychiatric / Psychological Disabilities

I. Evaluator’s Qualifications:

The following professionals would generally be considered qualified to submit documentation, provided they have comprehensive training in the relevant specialty: psychologists, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, and other relevantly trained medical doctors.

Reports from the professional should be submitted on letterhead and include the following:

• Name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator
• Information about license or certification as well as the area of specialization
• Number of years employed in current field
• State/province in which the individual practices

II. Documentation: Age and Contents

The provision of reasonable accommodations is based upon assessment of the current impact of the student’s disability on his or her academic performance. The documentation should generally not be more than a year old and should address the student’s current level of functioning. Due to the changing nature of the impact of some psychiatric/psychological disabilities, students may need to update their documentation on a case-by-case basis.

Documentation should include the following:

A. A diagnosis based on the current DSM diagnostic criteria

B. An assessment of the severity and frequency of the student’s symptoms, including how those symptoms impact the student inside and outside the classroom setting, and whether the symptoms constitute an impairment of a major life activity

C. A discussion of the status (static or changing) of the student’s condition

III. Specific Accommodation Recommendations

The documentation must contain specific recommendations for accommodations that are tied to the current functional limitations of the student. Each accommodation recommended by the evaluator must include a rationale. Recommended accommodations should be pertinent to the anticipated academic environment.