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Documentation Guidelines

Students who are requesting support services are required to submit documentation to verify eligibility under the ADA of 1990. The documentation must include medical or psychological information from a certified professional. Complete guidelines for the type of documentation required are available through the links below.

The aforementioned guidelines are provided so that we can respond appropriately to the individual needs of the student. Disability Services reserves the right to determine eligibility for services based on the quality of the submitted documentation. All documentation is confidential.

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Students requesting accommodations may be required to submit documentation to verify eligibility under the ADA of 1990 and Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Appropriate documentation of the disability allows the Student Disability Services (SDS) to determine the student’s eligibility for accommodation and the appropriate academic accommodations.  Please note that students should not delay meeting with SDS out of concern for not having the correct (or any) documentation.  If needed, the Coordinator can discuss with the student any specific documentation needs during the Welcome Meeting.  Our priority is on meeting with students and beginning the accommodations process for them as soon as possible.  Provisional accommodations may be provided to allow students time to procure any needed documentation.

The following guidelines are provided in the interest of assuring that the documentation validates the presence of acquired or traumatic brain injuries, demonstrates an impact of the disability on learning, and supports the request for accommodations and services.

  1. A specific statement of the injury and the probable site of lesion must be stated within the documentation submitted. If another diagnosis is applicable, it should also be stated.  A statement should be included indicating the current status of the injury and any relevance to the institutional setting.
  1. The Student Disability Services encourages students to complete a full evaluation just prior to attending the University of Tennessee. If this is not possible, we encourage the evaluation to have been completed within the past three years for students just graduating high school.
  1. It is preferred that individuals who are 17 years of age or older be tested using diagnostic instruments normed for adults. Documentation that is more than three years old will be considered individually. All Documentation will be handled on a case-by-case basis and students may be required to submit more recent documentation.
  1. The evaluation must be performed by a professional who is knowledgeable about brain injuries and qualified to make appropriate recommendations. This would include a physician, neurologist, licensed clinical and rehabilitation psychologists, neuropsychologists, and psychiatrists.
  1. A summary of cognitive and achievement measures used and evaluation results including standardized scores or percentiles used to make the diagnosis. The assessment, and any resulting diagnosis, should consist of and be based on a comprehensive assessment battery which does not rely on any one test or subtest. Evidence of a substantial limitation to learning or other major life activity must be provided. Both aptitude and academic achievement must be evaluated and included in the test report.  The following tests are considered acceptable:
  • Aptitude: WAIS-III; Stanford-Binet IV; Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery Revised: Test of Cognitive Ability
  • Academic Achievement: Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery -Revised: Test of Achievement; Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT); Stanford Test of Academic Skills (TASK); Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults (SATA)

 The Wide Range Achievement Test-3 (WRAT-3) is not a comprehensive measure of achievement and therefore should not be used as a sole measure of achievement.)

  1. Specific cognitive processing strengths, weaknesses, and deficits should be discussed. Clear documentation of deficit areas is necessary in order for the college to provide appropriate accommodations.  The documentation should discuss the following processing areas:
  • Visual spatial abilities
  • Memory (auditory and visual; short-term and long term)
  • Fine Motor / dexterity ( speed/ sequence of motor patterns)
  • Executive functions (verbal and nonverbal reasoning). It is also helpful to know about the student’s cognitive flexibility and automaticity with cognitive tasks.
  • Selective attention / perception ( auditory and visual)
  1. A comprehensive evaluation by a speech-pathologist to determine oral language skills should be included. Formal instruments or an informal analysis of a language sample are appropriate.
  1. Social-emotional status should be assessed and discussed. Formal assessment instruments and / or clinical interview are appropriate.  If applicable, a mental health diagnosis should be clearly stated, using the DSM-5.
  1. A statement of 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.
  1. Medical information relating to the student’s needs to include the impact of medication on the student’s ability to meet the demands of the postsecondary environment.
  1. The documentation must include the following information:
  • Names of the assessment instruments used
  • Quantitative and qualitative information which supports the diagnosis
  • The areas of educational impact and the severity of the condition
  • Recommendations for prescriptive treatments
  • Notation of medications prescribed, if any, and potential impact on learning
  • Additional observations or recommendations which could assist us in adequately serving the student
  • The names, titles, addresses, and phone numbers of the evaluator(s), as well as date(s) of testing

Please note that in reviewing the specific accommodation requested by the student or recommended by the physician/evaluator, SDS may find that while a recommendation is clinically supported, it is not the most appropriate accommodation given the requirements of a particular student’s academic program.  In addition, SDS may also propose clinically supported accommodations that would be appropriate and useful for the student, but which neither the student nor the evaluator have requested.

The aforementioned guidelines are provided so that SDS can respond appropriately to the individual needs of the student.  SDS reserves the right to determine eligibility for services based on the quality of the submitted documentation. Documentation may need to be updated or augmented in order to be reviewed more fully


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Students requesting accommodations may be required to submit documentation to verify eligibility under the ADA of 1990 and Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Appropriate documentation of the disability allows the Office of Disability Services (ODS) to determine the student’s eligibility for accommodation and the appropriate academic accommodations.  Please note that students should not delay meeting with ODS out of concern for not having the correct (or any) documentation.  If needed, the Coordinator can discuss with the student any specific documentation needs during the Welcome Meeting.  Our priority is on meeting with students and beginning the accommodations process for them as soon as possible.  Provisional accommodations may be provided to allow students time to procure any needed documentation.

The following guidelines are provided in the interest of assuring that the documentation validates the presence of ADHD, demonstrates an impact of the disability on learning, and supports the request for accommodations and services.

  1. A qualified professional must conduct the evaluation. Professionals conducting assessments and rendering diagnoses of AD/HD and making recommendations for appropriate accommodations must be qualified to do so. Comprehensive training and relevant experience in differential diagnosis and the full range of psychiatric disorders are essential.  The evaluation must be performed by a professional who is certified or licensed and trained in psychiatric, psychological, neuropsychological and/or psychoeducational assessment of adults.
  1. Documentation must be current. Disability Services acknowledges that once a person is diagnosed as having a qualified disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act the disability is normally viewed as life-long. While the disability will continue, the severity of the condition may change over time.  Therefore, the evaluation must present a current picture of how the student performs.  Because the provision of accommodations and services is based on the current impact of the student’s disability on learning in the college setting, it is in the student’s best interest to provide recent and appropriate documentation.  If changes have occurred in the student’s performance since the last assessment or if prescribed medications have been altered, the student may be required to submit updated information. Disability Services reserves the right to request updated or augmented documentation in order to have a more accurate picture of the current level of functioning.
  1. Documentation must be comprehensive.
    1. Evidence of early impairment: Because ADHD is, by definition in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition), first exhibited in childhood (although it may not have been formally diagnosed) and manifests itself in more than one setting, relevant historical information is essential. The following should be included in a comprehensive assessment: clinical summary of objective historical information, establishing symptomology indicative of ADHD throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood as garnered from transcripts, report cards, teacher comments, tutoring evaluations, and past psycho-educational testing; and third party interviews when available.
    2. Evidence of current impairment: According to the DSM-5, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity or impulsivity which is more frequent and severe than is typically observed among individuals at a comparable level of development. The DSM-5 delineates three types, including the type primarily characterized by inattention, the type primarily characterized by hyperactivity-impulsivity, or the combined type in which symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity are present.
  1. Documentation must include a diagnostic interview. An evaluation report should include the summary of a comprehensive diagnostic interview by a qualified evaluator.  It should include a summary and description of the presenting problem(s); developmental history; relevant medical history, including the absence of a medical basis for the present symptoms; academic history; relevant family history; relevant psychosocial history; a discussion of dual diagnosis, alternative or co-existing mood, behavioral, neurological, and/or personality disorders along with any history of relevant medication use that may affect the individual’s learning.
  1. Documentation must include assessment measures. The diagnosis of AD/HD is strongly dependent on the clinical interview in conjunction with a variety of formal and informal measures.  Since there is no one test, or specified combination of tests, for determining ADHD, the diagnosis of an attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) requires a multifaceted approach.  Any tests that are selected by the evaluator should be technically accurate, reliable, valid, and standardized on the appropriate norm group. When diagnosing AD/HD, in addition to a clinical interview, rating scales which quantify the nature of the impairment such as the Wender Utah, Brown Attention-Activation Disorder Scale, Beck Anxiety Inventory, Hamilton’s Depression Rating Scale, Conners Teacher and Parent Rating Scale should also be included, in conjunction with other data.
  1. Documentation must include both aptitude and academic achievement evaluations. Aptitude and achievement profiles may suggest attention or information processing deficits. The diagnosis can also include a diagnosis of the co-existence for a specific learning disability. Assessment, and any resulting diagnosis of a learning disability, should consist of and be based on a comprehensive assessment battery which does not rely on any one test or subtest.  Average broad cognitive functioning must be demonstrated on an individually administered intelligence test.  Quantitative and qualitative information which supports the diagnosis, including all subscale and subtest scores, should be listed. Objective evidence of a substantial limitation to learning must be provided.  Each of the following should be provided:
    1. Aptitude: A complete intellectual assessment with all subtests and standard scores reported is essential.  Examples are the WAIS-III, Stanford-Binet IV, and Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery: Test of Cognitive Ability.
    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 academic functioning in relevant areas such as reading (decoding and comprehension), mathematics, and oral and written language. Examples are Woodcock-Psychoeducational Battery III: Test of Achievement, Weschler Individual Achievement Test (WAIT), Stanford Test of Academic Skills (TASK), and Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults (SATA).
    3. Information Processing: Specific cognitive processing strengths, weaknesses and deficits should be discussed, such as visual spatial abilities, memory, fine motor/dexterity, executive functions (verbal/nonverbal reasoning), selective attention/perception (auditory/visual), and oral language skills.
  1. Documentation should include an informal assessment. Social-emotional assessment is helpful in order to rule-out a primary emotional basis for learning difficulties.  Social-emotional status should be assessed and discussed.  If applicable, a mental health diagnosis should be clearly stated.  Colleges need to know differential diagnosis of psychological disorders that impact upon academics from learning disabilities.  College is typically quite stressful for students who have disabilities.  In an attempt to better serve students, it is helpful to know about their personality characteristics, psychological welfare, self-esteem and ability to respond to stress.
  1. Documentation must include an interpretative summary. A well-written interpretative summary based on a comprehensive evaluative process is a necessary component of the documentation. Because ADHD is in many ways a diagnosis that is based upon the interpretation of historical data and observation, as well as other diagnostic information, it is essential that professional judgment be utilized in the development of a summary, which must include:
    1. Demonstration of the evaluator’s having ruled out alternative explanations for inattentiveness, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity as a result of psychological or medical disorders or non-cognitive factors
    2. Indication of how patterns of inattentiveness, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity across the life span and across settings are used to determine the presence of ADHD
    3. Indication of whether or not the candidate was evaluated while on medication, and whether or not the prescribed treatment produced a positive response
    4. Indication and discussion of the substantial limitation to learning presented by the ADHD and the degree to which it affects the individual in a higher education setting
    5. Indication as to why specific accommodations are needed and how the effects of ADHD symptoms, as designated by the DSM-5, are mediated by the accommodations
  1. All documentation must include the following:
    1. Names of assessment instruments used and dates of testing.
    2. Quantitative and qualitative information which supports the diagnosis, including subtest scores.
    3. The areas of educational impact and the severity of the condition.
    4. Previous history of the disability and verification of any previous testing.
    5. Recommendations for prescriptive treatments.
    6. Notation of medications prescribed, if any, and potential impact on learning.
    7. Additional observations or recommendations, which could assist us in adequately serving the student.
    8. The names, titles, addresses, phone numbers, state of license and license number of the evaluator(s).

Please note that in reviewing the specific accommodation requested by the student or recommended by the physician/evaluator, ODS may find that while a recommendation is clinically supported, it is not the most appropriate accommodation given the requirements of a particular student’s academic program.  In addition, ODS may also propose clinically supported accommodations that would be appropriate and useful for the student, but which neither the student nor the evaluator have requested.

The aforementioned guidelines are provided so that ODS can respond appropriately to the individual needs of the student.  ODS reserves the right to determine eligibility for services based on the quality of the submitted documentation. Documentation may need to be updated or augmented in order to be reviewed more fully.


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Students requesting accommodations may be required to submit documentation to verify eligibility under the ADA of 1990 and Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Appropriate documentation of the disability allows the Office of Disability Services (ODS) to determine the student’s eligibility for accommodation and the appropriate academic accommodations.  Please note that students should not delay meeting with ODS out of concern for not having the correct (or any) documentation.  If needed, the Coordinator can discuss with the student any specific documentation needs during the Welcome Meeting.  Our priority is on meeting with students and beginning the accommodations process for them as soon as possible.  Provisional accommodations may be provided to allow students time to procure any needed documentation.

The following guidelines are provided in the interest of assuring that the documentation validates the presence of a disability, demonstrates an impact of the disability on learning, and supports the request for accommodations and services.

  1. Documentation must include clinical observations by an Audiologist. Information may include:
    1. Cause of hearing loss (prenatal influence or congenital, infectious disease, injury, general disease, undetermined), and if it is non-progressive, progressive, or secondary complications.
    2. On-set of hearing loss (birth)
    3. Clinical diagnosis (deaf or hard of hearing) and/or level of hearing loss (moderate, severe, profound). Be specific.
    4. Audiogram (most recent)
  1. Documentation should include functional hearing characteristics including if the person was pre-lingually deaf and/or has a secondary disability such as Ushers Syndrome. It should express clinical terms as more concrete information for the setting of higher education.
  1. A summary of the condition and evidence of a substantial limitation to learning or other major life activity must be provided.
  1. Specific cognitive processing strengths, weaknesses, and deficits should be discussed. Clear documentation of deficit areas is necessary in order for the college to provide appropriate accommodations.
  1. A statement of 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.
  1. Other documentation that is helpful to include when doing a comprehensive assessment:
    1. Intelligence/Aptitude testing
    2. Sensory/Motor skills
    3. Academic Skills/ Concept Development
    4. Social/ Emotional/ Affective Information
    5. Functional Living Skills (i.e. orientation and mobility, ADL’s)
    6. Any assistive listening devices that are used
  1. The documentation must include the following information:
    1. Names of the assessment instruments used
    2. Qantitative and qualitative information which supports the diagnosis
    3. The areas of educational impact and the severity of the condition
    4. Recommendations for prescriptive treatments
    5. Notation of medications prescribed, if any, and potential impact on learning
    6. Additional observations or recommendations which could assist  in adequately serving the student
    7. The names, titles, addresses and phone numbers of the evaluator(s), as well as the date(s) of testing.

Please note that in reviewing the specific accommodation requested by the student or recommended by the physician/evaluator, ODS may find that while a recommendation is clinically supported, it is not the most appropriate accommodation given the requirements of a particular student’s academic program.  In addition, ODS may propose clinically supported accommodations that would be appropriate and useful for the student, but which neither the student nor the evaluator have requested.

The aforementioned guidelines are provided so that ODS can respond appropriately to the individual needs of the student.  ODS reserves the right to determine eligibility for services based on the quality of the submitted documentation. Documentation may need to be updated or augmented in order to be reviewed more fully.


Download:  PDF pdf logo |  Word MS Word logo

Students requesting accommodations may be required to submit documentation to verify eligibility under the ADA of 1990 and Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Appropriate documentation of the disability allows the Office of Disability Services (ODS) to determine the student’s eligibility for accommodation and the appropriate academic accommodations.  Please note that students should not delay meeting with ODS out of concern for not having the correct (or any) documentation.  If needed, the Coordinator can discuss with the student any specific documentation needs during the Welcome Meeting.  Our priority is on meeting with students and beginning the accommodations process for them as soon as possible.  Provisional accommodations may be provided to allow students time to procure any needed documentation.

The following guidelines are provided in the interest of assuring that the documentation validates the presence of a learning disability, demonstrates an impact of the disability on learning, and supports the request for accommodations and services.

  1. A Qualified Professional Must Conduct the Evaluation

Professionals conducting assessments and rendering diagnoses of specific learning disabilities and making recommendations for appropriate accommodations must be qualified to do so. Comprehensive training and relevant experience with an adolescent and adult LD population are essential.  The evaluation must be performed by a professional who is certified or licensed in the area of adults with learning disabilities and trained in psychiatric, psychological, neuropsychological and/or psychoeducational assessment.

  1. Testing Must be Current

ODS acknowledges that once a person is diagnosed as having a qualified learning disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act the disability is normally viewed as life-long. Although the learning disability will continue, the severity of the condition may change over time.  Therefore, the evaluation must present a current picture of how the student performs.  Generally the evaluation should have been completed within the last three years.  It is preferred that individuals who are seventeen years of age or older be tested using diagnostic measures normed for adults.  For students who have been out of school for a number of years, documentation that is more than three years old will be handled on a case-by-case basis.  ODS reserves the right to request updated or augmented documentation in order to have a more accurate picture of the current level of functioning.

  1. Documentation Must be Comprehensive

A comprehensive assessment battery and the resulting diagnostic report must include a diagnostic interview, assessment of aptitude, measure of academic achievement and information processing.    Assessment and any resulting diagnosis, should consist of and be based on a comprehensive assessment battery which does not rely on any one test or subtest.  Documentation must validate the need for services based on the candidate’s current level of functioning in the educational setting. A school plan such as an individualized education program (IEP) or a 504 plan may be insufficient documentation in itself but can be included as part of a more comprehensive assessment battery. Evidence of a substantial limitation to learning or other major life activity must be provided.  A specific learning disability and/or a DSM code must also be stated within the documentation submitted.

  • Diagnostic Interview

An evaluation report should include the summary of a comprehensive diagnostic interview by a qualified evaluator.  It should include a summary and description of the presenting problem(s); developmental history; relevant medical history, including the absence of a medical basis for the present symptoms; academic history; relevant family history; relevant psychosocial history; a discussion of dual diagnosis, alternative or co-existing mood, behavioral, neurological, and/or personality disorders along with any history of relevant medication use that may affect the individual’s learning.

  • Assessment Measures

The neuropsychological or psychoeducational evaluation for the diagnosis of a specific learning disability must provide clear and specific evidence that a learning disability does or does not exist.   Assessment, and any resulting diagnosis, should consist of and be based on a comprehensive assessment battery which does not rely on any one test or subtest.  Both aptitude and academic achievement must be evaluated and included in the test report.  Average broad cognitive functioning must be demonstrated on an individually administered intelligence test.  Quantitative and qualitative information which supports the diagnosis, including all subscale/subtest scores, should be listed. Objective evidence of a substantial limitation to learning must be provided.  Each of the following must be provided:

  • Aptitude: A complete intellectual assessment with all subtests and standard scores reported is essential:  WAIS-III, Stanford-Binet IV, Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery: Test of Cognitive Ability.  All test instruments must be normed for adults.
  • 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 academic functioning in relevant areas such as reading (decoding and comprehension), mathematics, and oral and written language: Woodcock-Psychoeducational Battery III: Test of Achievement, Weschler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT), Stanford Test of Academic Skills (TASK), Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults (SATA).

Note: screening instruments, or abbreviated testing instruments do not provide in-depth detail and may not be sufficient to determine eligibility for ODS services.

  • Information Processing: (Specific cognitive processing strengths, weaknesses and deficits should be discussed): Visual spatial abilities, Memory, Fine motor/dexterity, Executive functions (verbal/nonverbal reasoning), Selective attention/perception (auditory/visual), Oral language skills.
  1. Informal Assessment

Social-emotional assessment is helpful in order to rule out a primary emotional basis for learning difficulties.  Social-emotional status should be assessed and discussed.  If applicable, a mental health diagnosis should be clearly stated.  Colleges need to know differential diagnosis of psychological disorders that impact upon academics from learning disabilities.  College is typically quite stressful for students who have learning disabilities.  In an attempt to better serve students, it is helpful to know about their personality characteristics, psychological welfare, self-esteem and ability to respond to stress.

Significant specific deficits relative to potential should also be documented.  Any assessment results from the following areas should be included: Written Language, Reading, and Math.

  1. Interpretative Summary

A well-written diagnostic summary based on a comprehensive evaluative process is a necessary component of the report. Assessment instruments and the data they provide do not diagnose; rather, they provide important elements that must be integrated by the evaluator with background information, observations of the client during the testing situation, and the current context. It is essential, therefore, that professional judgment be used in the interpretative summary. A clinical summary must include:

  • indication that the evaluator ruled out alternative explanations for academic problems, such as poor education, poor motivation and/or study skills, emotional problems, attentional problems, and cultural/language differences
  • indication of how patterns in cognitive ability, achievement, and information processing are used to determine the presence of a learning disability
  • indication of the substantial limitation to learning presented by the learning disability and the degree to which it may affect the individual in a university setting.
  1. All documentation must include the following:
  • Names of assessment instruments used and dates of testing.
  • Quantitative and qualitative information which supports the diagnosis (including subtest scores).
  • The areas of educational impact and the severity of the condition.
  • Previous history of the disability and verification of any previous testing.
  • Recommendations for prescriptive treatments.
  • Notation of medications prescribed, if any, and potential impact on learning.
  • Additional observations or recommendations, which could assist us in adequately serving the student.
  • The names, titles, addresses, phone numbers, state of license and license number of the evaluator(s).

Please note that in reviewing the specific accommodation requested by the student or recommended by the physician/evaluator, ODS may find that while a recommendation is clinically supported, it is not the most appropriate accommodation given the requirements of a particular student’s academic program.  In addition, ODS may also propose clinically supported accommodations that would be appropriate and useful for the student, but which neither the student nor the evaluator have requested.

The aforementioned guidelines are provided so that ODS can respond appropriately to the individual needs of the student.  ODS reserves the right to determine eligibility for services based on the quality of the submitted documentation. Documentation may need to be updated or augmented in order to be reviewed more fully.


Download:  PDF pdf logo | Word MS Word logo

Students requesting accommodations may be required to submit documentation to verify eligibility under the ADA of 1990 and Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Appropriate documentation of the disability allows the Office of Disability Services (ODS) to determine the student’s eligibility for accommodation and the appropriate academic accommodations.  Please note that students should not delay meeting with ODS out of concern for not having the correct (or any) documentation.  If needed, the Coordinator can discuss with the student any specific documentation needs during the Welcome Meeting.  Our priority is on meeting with students and beginning the accommodations process for them as soon as possible.  Provisional accommodations may be provided to allow students time to procure any needed documentation.

The following guidelines are provided in the interest of assuring that the documentation validates the presence of a disability, demonstrates an impact of the disability on learning, and supports the request for accommodations and services.

  1. The University of Tennessee recognizes that “mobility disability” and “chronic health disability” are generic terms that can refer to a variety of conditions of short or long duration. Documentation should contain information regarding four important areas:
    1. Evaluator qualifications
    2. Date of original diagnosis and date of most re-evaluation (Please note that documentation for individuals with chronic health disabilities must be updated on a yearly basis.)
    3. Comprehensiveness of the documentation to support the diagnosis of a mobility or chronic health disability, including evidence to establish the current functional limitation(s) of the condition supporting the need for accommodations
    4. Multiple diagnoses, if applicable
  1. A qualified professional must conduct the evaluation: qualified evaluators are defined as those licensed individuals who are qualified to evaluate and diagnose mobility and/or chronic health disabilities or who may serve as members of a diagnostic team. Diagnoses of physical disabilities documented by family members will not be accepted because of professional and ethical considerations even when the family members are otherwise qualified by virtue of training and licensure or certification.  Finally, the name, title and credentials of the qualified professional writing the report should be included.  Information about licensure or certification, including the area of specialization, employment, and the state in which the individual practices should also be clearly stated in the documentation.  All reports should be in English, typed on professional letterhead, dated and signed.
  1. Although some individuals have long-standing or permanent diagnoses, because of the changing manifestations of many mobility and chronic health disabilities, it is essential to provide recent and appropriate documentation from a qualified evaluator that is relevant to the specific educational environment. Since accommodations are based upon the current impact of the disability, the documentation must address the individual’s current level of functioning and the need for accommodations.  If the diagnostic report is more than six months old, a recent letter completed by the diagnosing professional must be submitted with the diagnostic report.
  1. Documentation necessary to support the diagnosis must be comprehensive. In most cases, documentation should be based on a comprehensive diagnostic/clinical evaluation that adheres to the guidelines outlined in this document.  In addition to a history of presenting symptoms, date of onset, duration and severity of the disorder, and relevant developmental and historical data, the diagnostic report should include the following components:
    1. A specific diagnosis. Clinicians are encouraged to cite the specific objective measures used to help substantiate diagnoses.  The evaluator should use definitive language in the diagnosis of a mobility or chronic health disability, avoiding such speculative language as “suggest,” “has problems with,” or “could have problems.”
    2. A description of current functional limitation in the academic and employment environments, as well as across other settings. The description should include medical information describing the degree to which the current functional limitations restrict the condition, manner, or duration under the student can perform a major life activity.
    3. Relevant information regarding any medications that may impact the student. Given that many individuals benefit from prescribed medication and therapies, a positive response to medication in and of itself does not confirm a diagnosis, nor does the use of medication in and of itself either support or negate the need for accommodations.
    4. Relevant information regarding current treatment for this or any other conditions.
    5. Evidence that alternative etiologies or explanations have been considered in a differential diagnosis and the clinician must describe the degree of impact of the disorder on a specific major life activity, as well as the degree of impact on the individual. A link must be established between the requested accommodations and the functional limitations of the individual that are pertinent to the anticipated education setting.
  1. Multiple diagnoses may require a variety of accommodations beyond those typically associated with only a single diagnosis, and therefore the documentation must adhere to the UT policy. For example, when accommodations are requested based on multiple diagnoses, documentation should also comply with The University of Tennessee policy statements pertaining to the documentation of these specific conditions.

Please note that in reviewing the specific accommodation requested by the student or recommended by the physician/evaluator, ODS may find that while a recommendation is clinically supported, it is not the most appropriate accommodation given the requirements of a particular student’s academic program.  In addition, ODS may also propose clinically supported accommodations that would be appropriate and useful for the student, but which neither the student nor the evaluator have requested.

The aforementioned guidelines are provided so that Disability Services can respond appropriately to the individual needs of the student.  Disability Services reserves the right to determine eligibility for services based on the quality of the submitted documentation. Documentation may need to be updated or augmented in order to be reviewed more fully.


Download:  PDF pdf logo |  Word MS Word logo

Students requesting accommodations may be required to submit documentation to verify eligibility under the ADA of 1990 and Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Appropriate documentation of the disability allows the Office of Disability Services (ODS) to determine the student’s eligibility for accommodation and the appropriate academic accommodations.  Please note that students should not delay meeting with ODS out of concern for not having the correct (or any) documentation.  If needed, the Coordinator can discuss with the student any specific documentation needs during the Welcome Meeting.  Our priority is on meeting with students and beginning the accommodations process for them as soon as possible.  Provisional accommodations may be provided to allow students time to procure any needed documentation.

The following guidelines are provided in the interest of assuring that the documentation validates the presence of a disability, demonstrates an impact of the disability on learning, and supports the request for accommodations and services.

The diagnosis must be done by a licensed mental health professional such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist and must include the license number.  The diagnostician must be an impartial individual who is not a family member of the student.  Documentation should:

  1. Include a clear statement of the disorder, including DSM-5 diagnosis and a summary of present symptoms.
  2. Be current; it cannot be more than one year from the date of registration with the Office of Disability Services and must be updated on a yearly basis.
  3. Include a summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis and a summary of the evaluation results, including standardized or percentile scores.
  4. Include medical information relating to the student’s needs, including the impact of medication on the student’s ability to meet the demands of the postsecondary environment.
  5. Include a statement of the functional impact or limitations of the disability on learning, or other major life activities, 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 or other disabling conditions are indicated.

The person providing the documentation must also fill out the verification form.  If any problems arise while the student is at The University of Tennessee, a letter from the licensed mental health professional must be provided that says the student is stable and able to resume living in an academic environment.

The documentation must include the following information:

  • Names of the assessment instruments used
  • Quantitative and qualitative information which supports the diagnosis
  • The areas of educational impact and the severity of the condition
  • Recommendations for prescriptive treatments
  • Notation of medications prescribed, if any, and potential impact on learning
  • Additional observations/recommendations which could assist us in adequately serving the student
  • The names, titles, addresses, and phone numbers of the evaluator(s), as well as date(s) of testing

The aforementioned guidelines are provided so that Disability Services can respond appropriately to the individual needs of the student.  Disability Services reserves the right to determine eligibility for services based on the quality of the submitted documentation. Documentation may need to be updated or augmented in order to be reviewed more fully.


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Students requesting accommodations may be required to submit documentation to verify eligibility under the ADA of 1990 and Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Appropriate documentation of the disability allows the Office of Disability Services (ODS) to determine the student’s eligibility for accommodation and the appropriate academic accommodations.  Please note that students should not delay meeting with ODS out of concern for not having the correct (or any) documentation.  If needed, the Coordinator can discuss with the student any specific documentation needs during the Welcome Meeting.  Our priority is on meeting with students and beginning the accommodations process for them as soon as possible.  Provisional accommodations may be provided to allow students time to procure any needed documentation.

The following guidelines are provided in the interest of assuring that the documentation validates the presence of a visual disability, demonstrates an impact of the disability on learning, and supports the request for accommodations and services.

  1. Documentation of a visual impairment must include clinical observations by either an ophthalmologist or an optometrist. Things to include as documentation of a visual impairment:
  • Cause of visual impairment: prenatal influence or congenital, infectious disease, injury, general disease, undetermined; and if it is non-progressive, progressive, or secondary complications.
  • On-set of visual impairment.
  • Clinical diagnosis: blind, partial vision, low vision; and/or level of visual disability:  moderate, severe, profound.  Be specific.
  • Snellen Chart measurement of acuity.
  • Visual field: central loss, peripheral loss.
  • Color measurement: ability to discriminate colors, as well as light and dark.
  • Assessment of visual efficiency.
  1. Documentation should include a Functional Visual Characteristics and a physical needs assessment. It should express clinical terms as more concrete information for the setting of higher education.
  1. A summary of the condition and evidence of a substantial limitation to learning or other major life activity must be provided.
  1. Specific cognitive processing strengths, weaknesses, and deficits should be discussed. Clear documentation of deficit areas is necessary in order for the college to provide appropriate accommodations.
  1. A statement of 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, i.e. the implications for reading, mobility, seeing the black board.
  1. Other things that are helpful to include when doing a comprehensive assessment:
  • Intelligence/Aptitude testing
  • Sensory/Motor skills
  • Academic Skills/ Concept Development
  • Social/ Emotional/ Affective Information
  • Functional Living Skills (i.e. orientation and mobility, and ADL’s)
  1. The documentation must include the following information:
  • Names of the assessment instruments used
  • Quantitative and qualitative information which supports the diagnosis
  • The areas of educational impact and the severity of the condition
  • Recommendations for prescriptive treatments
  • Notation of medications prescribed, if any, and potential impact on learning
  • Additional observations or recommendations which could assist us in adequately serving the student
  • The names, titles, addresses, and phone numbers of the evaluator(s), as well as date(s) of testing

Please note that in reviewing the specific accommodation requested by the student or recommended by the physician/evaluator, ODS may find that while a recommendation is clinically supported, it is not the most appropriate accommodation given the requirements of a particular student’s academic program.  In addition, ODS may also propose clinically supported accommodations that would be appropriate and useful for the student, but which neither the student nor the evaluator have requested.

The aforementioned guidelines are provided so that ODS can respond appropriately to the individual needs of the student.  ODS reserves the right to determine eligibility for services based on the quality of the submitted documentation. Documentation may need to be updated or augmented in order to be reviewed more fully.

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