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Documentation Guidelines

Information from the Washington Association on Postsecondary Education and Disability Documentation Position Paper on Health and Physical Disabilities.

Students seeking support services from Washington State University Spokane on the basis of any disability may be required to provide documentation form a qualified professional to support their request for accommodations. This documentation serves three purposes:

  • To establish that the student can be considered a person with a disability, and therefore, eligible for protection against discrimination on the basis of disability.
  • To supplement information from the student regarding the impact of the disability.
  • To support and inform the development of reasonable accommodation (auxiliary aids and services) designed to facilitate equal access to University environments on a case-by-case basis.

What if my existing accommodation does not meet the above guidelines?

Students are encouraged to submit what they have for review to a disability resources counselor. Provisional accommodations may be established while additional documentation is being obtained.  If additional documentation is needed, the counselor can work with the student and diagnostician to clarify what information is needed. If the student does not currently have a health care provider that can update documentation, the counselor can help the student identify local providers who may be of assistance.

What if I do not have any documentation for my disability and/or health condition?

Students who do not have documentation are encouraged to schedule a meeting with a disability resources counselor to learn more about relevant assessments and where to obtain them.  Advisors are glad to offer advice on what assessments may be helpful.


Disability and medical information is confidential and not shared except where disclosure is required by law or is necessary to facilitate legitimate University processes, including granting appropriate accommodations, addressing direct threats or investigating claims or charges.

Documentation should be from a qualified healthcare provider and include:

  • Contact information
  • License information
  • Signature or electronic signature

Disability and medical information is confidential and is not shared except where disclosure is required by law or is necessary to facilitate legitimate University processes, including granting appropriate accommodations, addressing direct threats, or investigating claims or charges.

Health care providers should submit the following information to Jackie Schneider at j.schneider@wsu.edu. Documentation may be faxed to 509.358.7538.

Questions or concerns regarding documentation requirements can be directed to Jackie Schneider at 509.358.7537 or j.schneider@wsu.edu. Documentation may be scanned and emailed to j.schneider@wsu.edu or faxed to 509.358.7538.

Health and Physical Disabilities

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For a pdf formatted for printing, see Documentation for Health and Physical Disabilities.

  • Diagnosis of the disability/health condition.
  • A description of the current impact or limitation of the disability/health condition, focusing on barriers in the student’s educational environment.
  • If the condition is episodic, please help us understand the impact by including:
    • Triggers and warning symptoms of onset
    • Symptoms experienced during an episode
    • Frequency and duration of episodes
    • Care plan for management
  • Side effects of medications on the student’s ability to meet the demands of postsecondary environment (physical, perceptual, behavioral or cognitive).
  • A description of the expected progression or stability of the disability over time.
  • Optional: Suggestions of academic adjustments and/or auxiliary aids with supporting evidence may be included. The final determination for providing appropriate academic adjustments and auxiliary aids rests with the WSU Spokane Disability Services provider.

Vision Disabilities

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For a pdf formatted for printing, see Documentation for Vision Disabilities.

The definition of legal blindness is vision that can only be corrected to the acuity of 20/200 or higher. Another criterion is peripheral vision measuring 20 degrees or less. However, students not diagnosed as legally blind may be eligible and need accommodations. Other vision issues to consider include but are not limited to tracking, extreme photosensitivity, nystagmus, eyelid muscle issues, or low vision.

Documentation should show current impact of the disability. The following guidelines are provided in the interest of assuring that the evaluation and report are appropriate for documenting eligibility and identifying reasonable accommodations.

Any vision loss evaluation is in the medical domain and requires the expertise of a qualified licensed eye care professional. The documentation should include:

  • The date of most recent visit, the pathology of the eye disorder specific to the individual.
  • A brief description of the severity of the vision loss, and current impact or limitations.
  • Any medically relevant testing results.
  • A description of assistive devices or services currently prescribed or in use, including the possible effectiveness of these devices or services in an educational setting.
  • A description of the expected progression or stability of the vision loss over time.

Learning Disabilities

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For a pdf formatted for printing, see Documentation for Learning Disabilities.

Learning Disabilities are a group of neurologically based difficulties that negatively impact a student’s ability to demonstrate specific academic skills.  In the educational setting, these disabilities may interfere with speaking, listening, reading, writing, spelling, or computation. Such difficulties are not a reflection on a student’s overall intellectual ability.

The following guidelines are provided in the interest of assuring that the evaluation and report are most useful for documenting eligibility and identifying appropriate academic adjustments and/or auxiliary aids. The documentation should:

  • A DSM-V or ICD diagnosis of a learning disability and/or clinically significant results as demonstrated in psycho-educational test scores.
    • If psycho-educational testing is included, it should be performed at the adult level.  However, child level testing performed within 2 years of submission will also be considered.
  • A description of the current impact/limitations of the disability with specific focus on barriers to the educational environment.

Attention Disabilities

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For a pdf formatted for printing, see Documentation for Attention Disabilities.

Although the more generic term Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is frequently used, the official nomenclature used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-V) or successive editions, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), will be used in this document.

Documentation should show current impact of the disability. The following guidelines are provided in the interest of assuring that the evaluation and report are appropriate for documenting eligibility and identifying appropriate academic adjustments and/or auxiliary aids.

Documentation should include:

  • A DSM-V or ICD diagnosis of ADHD
    • Assessments should be performed at the adult level; however, child level testing performed within 2 years of submission will also be considered.
    • A summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis, including evaluation results and standardized scores if applicable.
  • A description of the current impact/limitations of the disability with specific focus on barriers to the educational environment.
  • Information on any medications being used and their side effects.

Psychiatric Disabilities

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For a pdf formatted for printing, see Documentation for Psychiatric Disabilities.

For the purpose of this policy, 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, 4th edition (DSM-V) or successive editions.

The documentation should:

  • Specify the nature, severity, current impact of the disability, and anticipated duration;
  • Address the student’s current ability to function in the college environment (e.g., ability to focus, retain information, organize one’s time, attend class, organize and write papers, work in groups or alone).
  • If the condition is episodic, please help us understand the impact by including:
  • Triggers and warning symptoms of onset
  • Symptoms experienced during an episode
  • Frequency and duration of episodes
  • Care plan for management
  • Side effects of medication on the student’s ability to meet the demands of the postsecondary environment (physical, perceptual, behavioral, or cognitive).
  • A description of the expected progression or stability of the disability over time.
  • Optional: Suggestions of academic adjustments and/or auxiliary aids with supporting evidence may be included. The final determination for providing appropriate academic adjustments and auxiliary aids rests with the WSU Spokane Access Services provider.

Test Anxiety

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For a pdf formatted for printing, see Test Anxiety Documentation.

Test anxiety occurs when symptoms of anxiety substantially impair academic performance, preventing students from demonstrating their true abilities. Some degree of anxiety is normal when an individual is faced with a demanding situation with an uncertain outcome. Common indicators of stress are physical shakiness, increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, “blanking out,” panicking, and gastrointestinal symptoms.

Students with academic accommodation needs should initiate a request for services through the Access Center. Students are required to provide written documentation of their disability before services can be provided. Test anxiety is something for which an accommodation may or may not be given, depending on whether the student’s condition is severe enough to constitute a disability under state and federal laws.

An evaluation must determine whether one’s symptoms are within the normal range or whether they are clinically significant. The student should be evaluated by an appropriate health care professional who can provide documentation that supports the assertion that the student’s test anxiety is a disability. Under Washington law, in order to constitute a disability, the condition must be a “sensory, mental, or physical impairment” that is medically cognizable. An impairment includes any “mental, developmental, traumatic, or psychological disorder.” RCW 49.60.040.

Documentation must clearly show that a “mental, developmental, traumatic, or psychological” disorder has been assessed by an appropriate health care provider, e.g., therapist, psychologist. More importantly, it must also describe how the student’s functioning is specifically impacted or limited by this condition.

As clinicians/medical professionals undergo the assessment process, it is suggested that the following points, when relevant, be considered:

  • Treatment: Is the student seeking or receiving counseling/treatment for test anxiety? Is the student taking medication for anxiety? How long has the student been in treatment?
  • Severity of Symptoms: What are the symptoms and how severe are they? Is the severity proportional to the demand of the situation?
  • Pervasiveness: Does the student’s test difficulty encompass more than one subject area or more than one type of exam format?
  • Duration: How long has the test anxiety persisted? Has the student dropped courses due to test anxiety?
  • Ability: Is there evidence of aptitude or ability that can be seen in non-anxiety-producing evidence of the student’s knowledge such as homework, papers, or informal discussions?
  • Preparation: Is the student adequately prepared for tests? Are they utilizing sound study strategies?
  • Do they seek academic assistance on campus?

 

Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane