Guidelines for Documenting a Disability

Submitting Documention 

 Materials may be submitted via fax, U.S. mail, or hand delivery.  In accordance with ASU security policies, standards and guidelines(link is external), ODR is unable to receive such documents via email.

All materials received are scanned and uploaded to an ODR maintained secure electronic database before paper copies are shredded. Individuals are encouraged to keep originals and a copy of all disability documentation submitted for personal record and future use. 

Documenting a Disability

 If navigating a temporary impairment/injury see: Documenting a Temporary Impairment

In order to establish that an individual is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the following is generally needed:

  1. Disability Disclosure Form (to be completed by person requesting accommodations); and
  2. Current documentation prepared by a professional relevant to the requested accommodations; and/or
  3. If applicable, documentation of historical use of accommodations. 


Insufficient Documentation

ODR is unable to diagnose impairments, interpret a diagnosis, a condition's severity, or the current impact and/or functional limitations of a disability from documentation, therefore, the following materials alone are generally not sufficient for determining eligibility and could prolong the eligibility process:

  • office medical records, medical chart notes or prescription pad notations;
  • high school IEPs, 504 Plans, Response to Interview and/or SOPs not accompanied by documentation of the disability itself;
  • documents prepared for specific non-educational venues (i.e., Social Security Administration, Department of Veteran's Affairs, etc.); or
  • documentation which only include general statements of diagnosis, symptoms or difficulties.

Employee Documentation Guidelines

Documentation guidelines for employees are determined an individualized basis and communicated directly to the employee once the ADA/504 Coordinator has reviewed the employee's Disability Disclosure Form.

Student Documentation Guidelines 

Documentation must reflect the condition substantially limits a major life activity or major bodily function. ODR utilizes flexibility and discretion in determining how recent documentation must be, especially for conditions that are permanent or non-varying. Changing conditions and/or changes in how a condition impacts the individual may warrant more frequent updates.

*Documentation guidelines for Emotional Support Animals are outlined in the Animals On Campus Policy #303.24

Generally sufficient documentation includes: a psychological/psycho-educational evaluation or a letter from medical/mental health provider which includes the below numbered items.

 1. Qualifications of Clinician/Provider: Documentation must be typed on office or practice letterhead, dated and signed by a professional who is licensed or certified in the area for which the diagnosis is made. Name, title, and license/certification credentials must be stated and shall not be family members or others with a close personal relationship to the individual.

2. Diagnosis & History: A diagnostic statement identifying the disability including ICD or DSM classification along with any relevant personal, psychosocial, medical, developmental and/or educational history.

 3. Description of Diagnostic Methodology: A full description of the diagnostic methodology used, including data and measurements from appropriate evaluation instruments. The results obtained should draw a direct link to the diagnosis and the functional limitations of the disability. For cognitive disorders, evaluations should use adult norms.

4. Current Impact and Functional Limitations: A clear description of the current impact and functional limitations of the condition pertaining to the academic, workplace and/or residential settings. Information regarding if symptoms are constant or episodic, and the frequency and/or duration should be addressed.

Any treatments, medications, and/or assistive devices/services currently prescribed or in use, should include a description of the mediating effects and potential side effects from such treatments.

 5. Recommendations: Recommendations are welcomed and considered, however ODR makes the ultimate determination on eligibility and reasonable academic adjustments necessary to provide equal access for participation in academic courses, programs and activities. Recommendations should be directly linked to the impact or functional limitations associated with the disability, or medication prescribed to control symptoms and include a clear rationale based on level of impairment. 

Documentation guidelines vary from one institution to another.  ODR documentation guidelines are designed to meet the needs of the Appalachian State University.  If attending a different institution or taking a standardized test administered by an outside agency, students are responsible for researching those documentation policies/guidelines and requirements.  Due to the differences of documentation guidelines, it may not be appropriate for ODR to complete paperwork certifying eligibility for standardized tests.