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Psychological Disabilities Documentation Guidelines

It is the responsibility of the student to provide the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Center for Access & Success the comprehensive documentation outlined below and, when requested, provide any additional information or clarification that conforms to the following guidelines.  As stated in the 2009 amendments of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Center for Access & Success may also engage in an interactive process with the professional evaluator to determine how the student’s clearly diagnosed disability and limitations to a major life activity (i.e. walking, seeing, hearing, or learning) relate to the higher education classroom.  

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 states that in order for a student to demonstrate the need for accommodations in their classrooms he/she must provide documentation that contains a specific diagnosis of a disability and specify how this disability substantially limits a major life activity. “Major life activities” include, but are not limited to, seeing, hearing, walking, breathing, and learning. The documentation must also specifically contain the disability’s current impact on academic performance.  

All accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis.

  • Documentation must be typed, current, be appropriate to the postsecondary environment, and include the name and credentials of the evaluator. The following would be professionals considered qualified to evaluate psychological disabilities: psychologists, psychiatrists, and neurologists. The age of acceptable documentation is dependent upon the disabling condition, the current status of the student, and the student’s request for accommodations.
  • Documentation should also include a specific diagnosis using DSM-IV (code in 5 axes), the date of first diagnosis, a review of pertinent history, current and fluctuating conditions and symptoms, as well as a prognosis. The assessment procedures and any relevant medical information (i.e. drug side effects) should be included in the documentation. If the disability is progressive, or if the student experiences any change in severity of symptoms that would affect academic accommodations, the students must provide updated documentation that reflects the change in status.
  • A diagnostic summary must include specific recommendations for academic accommodations. Accommodations must be based on significant functional limitations and a rationale for the accommodation must be provided by the evaluator. Once it is determined that a student is eligible to receive services, it is important to note that he/she still must follow the established policies and procedures of the Center for Access & Success as it pertains to the timeliness of requests and the completion of necessary request forms in order to properly coordinate accommodations.

Students must complete accommodation request forms each semester for the specific courses for which they are requesting accommodations. Accommodations cannot be made retroactively.

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