Documentation Guidelines

Disability Documentation

In general, disability documentation is needed along with an accommodation request  in order to establish protections under the ADA/504 and determine appropriate academic adjustments, auxiliary aids and reasonable modifications/accommodations. However, individuals whose disability impact is readily observable such as those who travel by wheelchair or are accompanied by a Service Animal (as defined by the ADA) may contact the ODR after submitting a request for accommodations to determine applicable documentation needs and next steps. 

Documentation guidelines vary from one institution to another.  ODR documentation guidelines (below) 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.

Generally 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  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, etc.); or
  • documentation which only include general statements of diagnosis, symptoms or difficulties.

Employee Documentation Guidelines

Documentation guidelines for employees are determined on an individualized basis and communicated directly to the employee once the ADA/504 Coordinator has reviewed requested accommodations.

Documentation should be from qualified professionals, must reflect the condition substantially limits a major life activity or major bodily function and substaniate the need for workplace accommodations.

For assistance animal accommodations within
University Housing additional requirements are needed and the documentation guidelines below should be used.

Documentation Guidelines

Documentation for Temporary Conditions should utlize the Documentation Form for Temporary Impairments.

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.

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 level of severity along with the current impact and functional limitations of the condition pertaining to the academic and/or residential settings. Information regarding if symptoms are constant or episodic, and the frequency and/or duration should be addressed.  Information provided must reflect the condition substantially limits a major life activity or major bodily function. 

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. 

Emotional Support Animal (ESA) documentation must also speak to an existing and continuing diagnostic and therapeutic relationship; the provider's confirmation that the Emotional Support Animal has been prescribed for treatment purposes and is necessary to help alleviate symptoms associated with the person's condition and/or to help the person use and enjoy university housing services; and include a clear description of how the animal will mitigate functional limitations.  Generally, documentation from health care professionals who review emotional profiles and create template ESA letters for public housing and air carriers, or who have had no contact with the individual except for limited encounters that were specifically intended to produce an ESA letter are not considered reliable. Emotional support animals additional requirements for animal approval documentation are outlined at University Assistance Animal information

Submitting Documentation

In accordance with App State security policies, standards and guidelines, ODR is unable to receive such documents via email. 

Materials may be securely submitted via:

  • Electronically uploaded via fileshare.appstate.eduto be shared with lawsa (at Documents with more than one page must be combined into one file for submission. PDF format is recommended for files. 
  • fax
  • hand delivery  in dropbox located outside of ODR
  • US Mail. NOTE:  Time sensitive materials are recommended to be sent via fax or fileshare.

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.