Documentation Guidelines for Specific Disabilities and Conditions

All documentation must show impact of the disability on student performance. Documentation must appear on letterhead with contact information, and be signed and dated by a qualified healthcare professional. A diagnosis submitted on prescription pad is not acceptable documentation. Additionally, a diagnosis of a condition does not automatically qualify a student for accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Other documentation students can readily share, such as Educational Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan, recent evaluations, letters from doctors or psychologists, hospital reports, etc., are also valuable but not a substitute for the healthcare professional letter.

Documentation requirements may differ between institutions of higher education. This policy supports the needs of students in WGU’s unique environment; documentation from other institutions accordingly, will not be considered sufficient to make accommodations.

WGU recognizes that collecting and presenting medical documentation may be a hardship for certain students. To the degree possible, the Office of Student Accessibility Services will receive and validate medical documentation during collaborative meetings with students.
 
Guidelines and requirements vary according to disability type but should include the following:

General Health and Physical Disabilities


Any health or physical disability is considered to be in the medical domain and requires a medical statement by a qualified medical professional. Health and physical disabilities include but are not limited to: Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, spinal cord injuries, cancer, AIDS, Muscular Dystrophy, Fibromyalgia, Spina Bifida, and pregnancy. 

Documentation for health or physical conditions must show current impact of the disability on student performance and be signed by a qualified medical professional on letterhead.

 

The letter (within 1 year) should:

 

  1. Clearly describe the nature and severity of the medical condition
  2. Include date of onset and anticipated duration of the disability
  3. Describe any adverse side effects caused by medication
  4. Indicate how the disability would limit participation in WGU courses, programs, and activities as applicable
  5. Describe treatment, assistive devices/services currently prescribed or in use, including the possible effectiveness of these devices or services in an educational setting
  6. Suggest academic accommodations and the time period for which those accommodations are recommended


Hearing Impairments


Deaf and hard-of-hearing disabilities require certification from an otorhinolaryngologist, otologist, or licensed audiologist.

 

Documentation for should include:

 

  1. An audio logical evaluation and/or audiogram
  2. Provide information regarding the onset and severity of the condition
  3. Describe assistive devices/services currently prescribed or in use, including the possible effectiveness of these devices or services in an educational setting
  4. Suggestions on how the functionally limiting manifestations of the disabling condition(s) may be accommodated
  5. If the audiological report does not include recommendations for accommodations, an audiologist should be consulted - an educational audiologist is preferable
  6. The age of acceptable documentation is dependent upon whether the disabling condition is static or changing


Note: Students in this category may require communication accommodation such as alternative communication options, oral or sign language interpreters, note taking services, or real-time captioning services, please contact the Office of Student Accessibility Services to make special requests for these accommodations.

Visual Impairments
Documentation for blind and/or visual impaired disabilities must be provided by a certified ophthalmologist, optometrist, or otherwise qualified individual.

 

The letter should:

 

  1. Provide information regarding the onset and severity of the condition
  2. Clearly state if the condition is stable or progressive
  3. Describe assistive devices/services currently prescribed or in use, including the possible effectiveness of these devices or services in an educational setting
  4. Include how the disability would limit participation in WGU courses, programs, and activities as applicable
  5. Suggest any academic accommodations and the time period for which those accommodations are recommended
  6. The age of acceptable documentation is dependent upon whether the disabling condition is static or changing


Note: Students in this category may require alternative formats for books and course materials, please contact the Office of Student Accessibility Services to make special requests for this types of accommodation.
 
Psychological/Psychiatric Disorders
A psychological/psychiatric disability is defined as an impairment of cognitive, educational, and/or social functioning caused by a disorder as described in the American Psychiatric Diagnostic Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) or successive editions.

The letter or report (within 1 year) from the mental health professional (psychologist, neuropsychologist, and licensed professional counselor) should:

 

  1. Clearly describe the nature, severity, and anticipated duration of the disability
  2. Include date of onset and  anticipated duration of the disability
  3. Describe any adverse side effects caused by medication
  4. Indicate how the disability would limit participation in WGU courses, programs, and activities as applicable
  5. Provide relevant documentation (test data, medical history, observations, etc.)
  6. Suggest academic accommodations and the time period for which those accommodations are recommended


Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders
Each student with ADD/ADHD has a unique set of traits and characteristics. In most cases, psycho-educational evaluation by a psychologist, psychiatrist, neuropsychologist, school psychologist, or learning disability specialist, is essential in determining the severity and impact of the condition on attention and learning. 

 

The comprehensive evaluation or report (within 3 years) should:

 

  1. Clearly describe the current severity and impact of the disability in an educational setting
  2. Include a record of the onset of the disability with developmental, educational, and other medical history
  3. Provide a rule-out statement of other potential diagnoses
  4. Provide relevant test data with standard scores to support conclusion, including at least:
    • Aptitude/ Cognitive Ability subtests and standard scores. Suggested measures include:
      1. Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale – III/IV (WAIS III/IV)
      2. Woodcock-Johnson III – Tests of Cognitive Ability
      3. Kaufman Adolescent and Adult Intelligence Test
      4. Stanford-Binet IV
      5. Academic Achievement explaining current levels of functioning in relevant areas such as reading, mathematics, oral and written language.
      6. Information processing - short and long term memory, auditory and visual perception/processing, processing speed, executive functioning
  5. Explain any adverse side effects caused by medication
    • Note: A positive response to medication does not necessarily confirm a diagnosis nor does the use of medication either support or negate the need for accommodations.
  6. Indicate how the disability would limit participation in WGU courses, programs and activities as applicable
  7. Suggest academic accommodations and provide rationale for the recommendations.

 

Learning Disorders
Documentation of a learning disability consists of the provision of professional testing and evaluation including a report, which reflects the present level of information processing as well as achievement level.
The comprehensive evaluation or report (within 3 years) should:

 

  1. Clearly describe the current severity and impact of the disability in an educational setting;
  2. Include a record of the onset of the disability with developmental, educational, and other medical history;
  3. Provide a rule-out statement of other potential diagnoses.
  4. Provide relevant test data with standard scores to support conclusion, including at least:
    • Aptitude/ Cognitive Ability subtests and standard scores. Suggested measures include:
      1. Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale – III/IV (WAIS III/IV)
      2. Woodcock-Johnson III – Tests of Cognitive Ability
      3. Kaufman Adolescent and Adult Intelligence Test
      4. Stanford-Binet IV
      5. Academic Achievement explaining current levels of functioning in relevant areas such as reading, mathematics, oral and written language.
      6. Information processing - short and long term memory, auditory and visual perception/processing, processing speed, executive functioning.
  5. Explain any adverse side effects caused by medication
    • Note: A positive response to medication does not necessarily confirm a diagnosis nor does the use of medication either support or negate the need for accommodations.
  6. Indicate how the disability would limit participation in WGU courses, programs, and activities as applicable
  7. Suggest academic accommodations and provide rationale for the recommendations


Traumatic/Acquired Brain Injury
The documentation required to substantiate a brain injury will vary according to the nature of the resulting limitations and may be grouped in three general areas: inattention/impulsivity, slowed-processing, and impaired memory.

The comprehensive evaluation report (within 1 year) by a rehabilitation counselor, speech-language pathologist, orthopedic specialist, and/or neuropsychologist (or any other specialist as appropriate), should:

 

  1. Clearly describe the nature, severity, and anticipated duration of the disability
  2. Indicate how the disability would limit participation in WGU courses, programs and activities as applicable
  3. Provide an assessment of cognitive abilities, including processing speed and memory
  4. Include date of onset of the disability and any adverse side effects caused by medication
  5. Suggest academic accommodations and the time period for which those accommodations are recommended


Recommended Diagnosing Healthcare Professionals by Disability
 

 

DISABILITY:

 

DIAGNOSTICIAN:

 

ADD, ADHD

 

Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Physician

 

Emotional Disability

 

Psychologist, Psychiatrist

 

Visual Impairment

 

Ophthalmologist

 

Hearing Disability

 

Certified Otologist, Audiologist

 

Learning Disability

 

Psychologist, Neuropsychologist, School Psychologist

 

Physical Disabilities (Other)

 

Physician, Nurse Practitioner







 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Article Number: 27022

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