Student & Employee Accessibility Services (formerly DSS)
20 Benevolent Street, Box P
Providence, RI. 02912
(401) 863-9588 (v/TTY) (401) 863-1444 (fax)
Students requesting accommodations and/or support services under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and/or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 must provide documentation of the existence of a disability and evidence of the need for disability-related accommodations or services if they are requesting services or accommodations.
All documentation is reviewed on a case by case basis and the determination of accommodations is an interactive process. Documentation of a specific disability does not translate directly into specific accommodations. Accommodations are connected to the particular functional limitations associated with the disability and these can vary greatly among individuals with the same diagnosis.
Documentation is treated in a confidential manner and will only be shared on a need to know basis. Supplemental information may be provided through interviews and follow up conversations with providers, but written documentation should be as complete and legible as possible. We request that clinicians provide typewritten letters or reports on letterhead and that they be sent by mail or fax. Emailed documents must be sent directly from the providers as non-editable PDFs. Prescription pad notes are not accepted as complete documentation, but can be submitted as preliminary information while additional materials are prepared. There may be limitations as to what can be provided with only preliminary information.
Brown University has adopted the following guidelines for documentation based on the Seven Essential Elements of Quality Disability Documentation published by AHEAD (Association on Higher Education and Disability).
Documentation should include though not necessarily be limited to the following:
- The credentials of the evaluator(s).
Documentation should be provided by a licensed or otherwise properly credentialed professional who has undergone appropriate training, has relevant experience, and has no personal relationship with the client. A good match between the individual qualifications of the person making the diagnosis and the condition is expected.
- A diagnostic statement identifying the disability.
A clear diagnostic statement that also describes how the condition was diagnosed, provides information on the functional impact, and describes the typical progression or prognosis of the condition. Diagnosis codes are helpful but not required.
- A description of the diagnostic methodology used.
Documentation should include a description of the diagnostic criteria, evaluation methods, procedures, tests, and dates of administration, along with a clinical narrative, observation, and specific results. Where appropriate to the nature of the disability, having both summary data and specific test scores is expected.
* (Please refer to the list of appropriate diagnostic tools for ADHD and LD at the end of this document.)
- A description of the current functional limitations.
Documentation should include how the disabling condition(s) currently impact the individual for the purpose of establishing a disability and identifying possible accommodations. Documentation should be thorough enough to demonstrate whether and how a major life activity is substantially limited by providing a clear sense of the severity, frequency and pervasiveness of the condition.
Relatively recent documentation is needed in most instances. We request that learning disabilities and ADHD evaluations be done when the student has reached an age where adult scales can be used, and at the very least have been done in the last three years so that we have an accurate assessment of them as a college student. We request that all medical and psychological conditions be documented within the last year unless conditions are permanent and not variable in any way. Changing conditions may warrant even more frequent updates so that documentation reflects current functioning.
- A description of the expected progression or stability of the disability.
Documentation is helpful when it provides information on expected changes in the functional impact of the disability over time and context. Descriptions of the cyclical or episodic nature of the disability and known or suspected environmental triggers to episodes provide opportunities to anticipate and plan for varying functional impacts. Recommended timelines for re-evaluations can also be helpful.
- A description of current and/or past accommodations, services, and/or medications.
Complete documentation includes a description of both current and past medications, auxiliary aids, assistive devices, support services, and accommodations, including their effectiveness in alleviating functional impacts of the disability. Provision of an accommodation in another setting does not mean an accommodation can be provided in the college setting, but having that information is helpful to us in making current decisions about services and accommodations.
- Recommendations for accommodations.
This can include recommendations for accommodations, adaptive devices, assistive services, compensatory strategies, and/or collateral support as appropriate to the functional limitations. “While the post-secondary institution has no obligation to provide or adopt recommendations made by outside entities, those that are congruent with the programs, services and benefits offered by the college or program may be appropriate. When recommendations go beyond equitable and inclusive services and benefits, they may still be useful in suggesting alternative accommodations and/or services.” (AHEAD, 2004)
Documenting Learning Disabilities and/or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)*
A complete, current psycho-educational or neuropsychological evaluation is required. We require that students submit an evaluation that has been done within the last three years using adult scales such as the WAIS (as opposed to the WISC). The evaluation should include instruments that address the following areas:
Cognitive functioning - A complete battery of tests, appropriate for an adult should be conducted, with all subtest and standard scores reported. One of the following would be required: Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-educational Battery: Tests of Cognitive Ability, or the Kaufman Adolescent and Adult Intelligence Test.
Achievement - A complete battery relevant to area(s) of suspected disability(s), often to include a reading assessment, with all subtest and standard scores reported. Examples of commonly used tools include: Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-educational Battery IV: Tests of Achievement, Stanford Test of Academic Skills (TASK), Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT), and Nelson-Denny Reading Skills Test.
Information Processing - An examination of the student's processing strengths and weaknesses to include areas such as short and long term memory, processing speed, meta-cognition, etc. gathered from the comprehensive assessment, diagnostic interview, and examiner's observations of test behavior or the administration of additional instruments.
When documenting ADHD, additional instruments such as those below are usually used in combination:
- Barkley ADHD Symptoms Scale (Childhood and Current Self Report)
- Brown’s ADD Scales
- Conner’s Adult ADHD Rating Scales (CAARS)
- Continuous Performance Test (CPT)
- Stroop Color Word Test
- Test of Variable Attention (TOVA)
- Trail Making Test A and B
- Wisconsin Card Sorting test