The student requesting services has the responsibility to obtain documentation from a licensed professional such as a medical doctor, psychologist, or other qualified diagnostician to certify him/her as having a disability.  The documentation may include one or more of the following:

  • diagnosis of your current disability
  • the date of the diagnosis
  • how that diagnosis was reached
  • the credentials of the diagnosing professional
  • describe how your disability affects a major life activity
  • describe how the disability affects your academic performance.

Definition of Disability

The United States’ Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines “disability” as “having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities.” The ADA protects individuals from discrimination if they have a record of such impairments or if they are regarded as having such impairments. Additionally, specific protections are guaranteed through Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1997. Individuals with adequate documentation of the current functional impact of a disability of a major life activity are protected from discrimination and are entitled to appropriate accommodations.

Purpose of Documentation

Documentation serves two primary purposes in post-secondary education. First, documentation must establish that the individual has a disability, and therefore is protected from discrimination. Second, the documentation must describe the current functional impact of the disability so that potential accommodations can be identified.


Categories of Disability

Blind/Visual Impairment

This refers to Blindness or partial sight to the degree that interferes/impedes with educational process and requires support services or program.

Deaf/Hard of hearing

The causes and degrees of hearing loss vary across Deaf and hard-of-hearing community.  Deaf and hard-of-hearing students might also experience speech impairments.  Therefore, the method of communication also varies for each student.

Mobility Impairment

Support services or programs are needed due to limitation in locomotion or motor functions.  For example, persons who have asthma, cardiovascular problems, or who do not have motor functions necessary to lift or carry items normally used in an academic setting, such as books and supplies.

Learning Disability

Learning disability is a permanent neurologically based condition that affects how students with normal or above average intelligence acquire, store, organize and use of skills and knowledge.

Psychological Disability

Based on a diagnosis from the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV-TR, a psychological disorder is a persistent mental or emotional disorder, that interferes with educational functioning and necessitates support services.