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General Guidelines for Documentation of a Disability

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, individuals with disabilities have certain rights and may be eligible for reasonable accommodations at colleges and universities.
Disability Services Documentation Guidelines
revised 12/3/12
    At UTB, Disability Services encourages students to contact the Office whether or not they have documentation of a disability available. 

We recognize that third party documentation can be difficult to obtain, and we don’t want to create unnecessary barriers. 

Our first priority is to get to know each student individually.
However, any documentation students can provide, such as IEP/504 plans, recent evaluations, hospital reports, and letters from doctors, psychologists, the VA or Social Security, etc., is helpful. 

We will use information we obtain through conversation, observations, and if necessary, third party documentation, to help decide what accommodations, if any, are reasonable in each case. 
The purpose of third party documentation is to add to the Coordinator’s fund of information so that every student’s request is given due consideration.  Be aware that certain accommodations, such as course substitutions (which are rare), are more likely to require such documentation for consideration of the request. 

About Reasonable Accommodations
“Reasonable accommodations” is a term often used in higher education.  For an accommodation to be reasonable, it should NOT do any of the following:
  • Require a substantial change in an essential element of the curriculum;
  • Require substantial alteration of a program or service;
  • Cause an undue financial or administrative burden (college-wide);
  • Pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others.
Accommodation requests that do not meet the test of being “reasonable” as outlined above will most often be denied.  The decision of whether or not an accommodation is reasonable is made by Disability Services, often with input from university staff and faculty.
Note: UTB does not provide or arrange for personal attendant care or other services of a personal nature such as a private tutor or study coach.

Requests for updated documentation
With the passage of time, and as a student’s personal and academic circumstances change, there may be a need for documentation beyond what was needed at first.  The Coordinator’s role is always to work with the student to determine what accommodations, if any, are reasonable given each situation presented.

Not all documentation policies are the same
It should be noted that documentation policies differ from one institution to another.  Disability Services’ documentation guidelines are designed to fit UTB and may not match those at other institutions. 

If a student plans to attend another institution after attending UTB or to take a standardized test (GRE, MCAT, etc.) administered by an outside agency, the student is advised to research those documentation requirements at least six months prior to the anticipated start or test date.  Also, due to policy differences, it may not be appropriate for Disability Services to complete the paperwork required by standardized testing agencies.  In such cases, the staff will explain the reasons why completing the supporting paperwork is not appropriate.
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