Wheaton College students who seek accommodations based on their disability are responsible for providing appropriate documentation. A student who seeks accommodations is responsible for obtaining the needed evaluation and resulting documentation, and for initiating contact with Eileen Bellemore, Coordinator of Academic Supports and Disability Services. Wheaton College approaches requests for accommodations with the belief that each student's circumstance is unique and that a flexible approach is the reasonable way to determine appropriate accommodations.
By itself, a medical diagnosis does not establish a need or an entitlement to accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 amended 2009. Another way of saying this is that having a disorder or condition listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edtition (DSM-IV-TR) or International Classification of Diseases Manual, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) does not, by itself, lead to any conclusion under Section 504 or the ADA. Therefore, the documentation required by Wheaton College extends beyond the medical diagnosis and encompasses the four key elements of a person's disability status under Section 504 and the ADA. Those key elements are that:
- the student has a physical or mental impairment
- the impairment limits the student's participation in a major life activity
- the degree of the limitation is significant and
- there is something that the college can dot that would be reasonable, needed, and predictably effective in responding to the impairment.
With these four areas in mind, the following guidelines are provided to assist the student in collaboration with Eileen Bellemore of assuring that psycho-educational evaluation reports are appropriate for determining eligibility for accommodations. These guidelines meet current national standards. If these guidelines conflict with any provisions of applicable law, the law governs; and, if applicable law allows the college greater discretion than do these guidelines, the college reserves the right to exercise such discretion with respect to these guidelines.
- Testing must be current. In most cases this means within the past three years. This evaluation will constitute the basis for determining reasonable accommodations at this time. Since reasonable accommodations and services are based upon the current impact of the student's disabilities on his or her academic performance, it is in a student's best interest to provide recent and appropriate documentation.
- Documentation necessary to substantiate the specific disability(ies) should be comprehensive.
A comprehensive test battery* should include the following:
- Diagnostic interview
- Formal assessment to include:
- Information Processing and memory - frequently this is most efficiently achieved through the Woodcock Johnson Revised Psycho-Educational Battery & Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scales-III (WAISIII-R) & the Wexler Memory Scales
- Non-standard measures and informal assessment
*An IEP or 504 plan is not sufficient documentation in and of itself, but can be included as part of a more comprehensive test battery.
- The report must be on official letterhead, signed, and dated by the evaluator, generally a licensed psychologist or other professional with experience and expertise in the area for which the specific accommodations are being requested.
- The documentation must include a specific diagnosis identified by the licensed professional utilizing the DSM-IV-TR or the ICD-10 diagnostic codes and comply with item (3.)above. The diagnostician must be an impartial individual who is not a family member of the student.
- The documentation must include actual test scores from standardized instruments - standard scores and percentiles should be provided for all normed measures. Use of non-specific labels (e.g., "very qualified") in lieu of standardized scores is not sufficient.
- A clinical summary must be provided that includes the specific supporting information that has been used to determine the presence of a disability. The summary should indicate the substantial limitation to learning presented by the disability and the degree to which it impacts the individual in the learning context for which accommodations are being requested.
- Each accommodation recommended by the evaluator should include a rationale. Specifically, this should include indications supported by the evaluation as to why specific accommodations are needed and how the effects of the specific disability are remedied by the accommodation. The recommendation of an accommodation, particularly if lacking such rationales, does not guarantee that such an accommodation will be provided.
- Documentation for eligibility must reflect the current functional impact the disability has on the student's learning, generally not more than three (3) years old. However, if the disability or its symptoms vary from time to time in a student's life, the documentation must be no more than one (1) year old when submitted and must pertain to the student's current situation.
- Medical information relating to the student's needs to include the impact of medication on the student's abilities that might be helpful in understanding the student's profile including functional limitations.
- Include a narrative that describes relevant developmental, historical, and familial data that is both quantitative and qualitative as pertaining to the specific diagnosis.
- If a student seeks accommodations on account of more than one disability, then more than one professional may meed to be involved in developing the diagnoses and other documentation.
Students are encouraged to discuss this process early on in their academic career with Eileen Bellemore who will consult collaboratively with the student regarding the types of documentation needed and ultimately regarding the accommodations that would be appropriate. The accommodation afforded to each student will be determined on an individual basis and will be based on the documentation provided.