Guidelines for Documentation of a Learning Disability
How to Document a Learning Disability
These guidelines are adapted from the Association on Higher Education and Disability guidelines.
The following guidelines are provided in the interest of assuring that learning disability (LD) documentation is appropriate to verify eligibility and to support request for accommodations, academic adjustments and/or auxiliary aids. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, individuals with disabilities are guaranteed certain protections and rights of equal access to programs and services. To establish that an individual is covered under the ADA, the documentation should indicate that the disability substantially limits some major life activity, including learning.
Qualifications of the Evaluator
Professionals conducting assessments, rendering diagnoses of learning disabilities, and making recommendations for appropriate accommodations must be qualified to do so. Comprehensive training and direct experience with an adolescent and adult LD population is essential.
The name, title and professional credentials of the evaluator, including information about license or certification (e.g., licensed psychologist) as well as the area of specialization, employment and state/province in which the individual practices should be clearly stated in the documentation.
For example, the following professionals would generally be considered qualified to evaluate specific learning disabilities provided that they have additional training and experience in the assessment of learning problems in adolescents and adults: clinical or educational psychologists, school psychologists, neuropsychologists, and learning disabilities specialists. It is not considered appropriate for professionals to evaluate members of their families. All reports should be on letterhead, typed, dated, signed and otherwise legible.
Documentation Must be Current
Because the provision of all reasonable accommodations and services is based upon the university’s assessment of the current impact of the disability on academic performance, it is in a candidate’s best interest to provide recent and appropriate documentation. In most cases, this means that a diagnostic evaluation must have been completed within the past three years. If documentation is inadequate in scope or content, or does not address the individual’s current level of functioning and need for accommodations, reevaluation may be required. If the initial documentation is incomplete or inadequate to determine the extent of the disability and reasonable accommodations, the university has the discretion to require additional documentation. Any cost of obtaining additional documentation is borne by the student.
Substantiation of the Learning Disability
Documentation should validate the need for services based on the individual’s current level of functioning in the educational setting. A school plan such as an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 plan is not sufficient documentation, but ideally it will be included as part of a more comprehensive assessment battery. A comprehensive assessment battery and the resulting diagnostic report should include a diagnostic interview, assessment of aptitude, academic achievement, information processing and a diagnosis.