Disability Documentation Guidelines

Students sitting outside of Towson University studying

Students requesting accommodations or services from Disability Support Services (DSS) must submit documentation of their disability that meets DSS guidelines and verifies eligibility under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act as amended (ADAAA). Under the ADAAA, a “person with a disability” is someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Some major life activities include, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating and working.

DSS understands that once a student is diagnosed as having a disability, it is typically lifelong. Nevertheless, how the disability will manifest itself and impact the student may change in different settings and over time. Therefore, DSS requests documentation in order to understand the student individually and how the disability will impact him or her in a college setting in order to make informed decisions regarding the need for accommodations and services.

Documentation should be up to date and completed by a professional qualified to make the diagnosis, such as a psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, education professional, psychiatrist/physician, or other health care provider. It should identify the disability, describe its current impact, and address how the impairment substantially limits a major life activity. It is recommended that the documentation describe the individual’s current or past accommodations, support services and medications, as well as any recommendations for accommodations in the college setting.

Types of documentation can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Psychoeducational, psychological and educational evaluations
  • Medical reports, letters and assessments from health care providers
  • Documents that reflect accommodation history, such as a 504 Plan, Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Summary of Performance (SOP) as long as the information provided is recent enough to assess the current impact of the condition and establish a connection between the disability and the accommodation being requested.

For documentation of mental health disabilities (including ADHD) and chronic medical or physical disabilities, students may have their treating professional complete the appropriate form below:

DSS will evaluate disability documentation and determine eligibility and accommodations based on the appropriateness, recency and completeness of the documentation submitted. If the submitted documentation is incomplete, out of date, or does not support the student’s request for accommodations, the student may be asked to provide additional documentation. Students are encouraged to contact DSS for further guidance on the documentation needed for their individual situation.

The documentation provided will be reviewed as a part of the collaborative process with the student. During a personal interview, consideration will also be given to the student’s self-report, strengths and needs, academic experiences and current program of study, as well as his or her ideas regarding accommodations.

Confidentiality

Disability records are confidential, maintained in the DSS office, and are protected as an educational record under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Disability-related information may be disclosed on a limited, need to know basis in order to provide accommodations and services with the permission of the student or as otherwise permitted under the university’s student records policy.