Under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADA AA) revised in 2008, the term “disability” includes (a) a mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual; (b) a record of such an impairment; or (c) being regarded as having such an impairment. The ADA further defines mental impairment to include any mental or psychological disorders such as emotional or mental illness. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) is frequently used as guidance for identifying psychiatric, behavioral, and mental health disorders. However, not all conditions listed in the DSM-5 are disabilities or even impairments for purposes of the ADA. Diagnosis by a qualified evaluator is required. The diagnostician must be an impartial evaluator who is not a family member nor in a dual relationship with the student.  Testing must be comprehensive and submitted in the English language. Individual Education Programs/Plans (IEPs) and Section 504 plans are useful but are not sufficient to establish the rationale for accommodations.

  • Qualifications of the evaluator
    The report must include the name, title, and professional credentials of the examiner and be signed by the examiner. Trained, certified and/or licensed school psychologists, clinical psychologists, neuropsychologists, and other professionals with training and experience relevant to adults and their evaluation are typically involved in the process of assessment. Medical doctors must provide evidence of experience in the field of learning disabilities.
  • Date of Documentation – Testing should be performed within the last three years of the date of enrollment at Wheaton College.
  • Clinical evidence of the presence of a learning disability
    The evaluation must rule out other causes of academic difficulty. A diagnostic code based on the DSM – V is preferred. There must be clear and specific evidence and identification of a learning disability. Individual learning styles and learning differences in and of themselves do not constitute a learning disability. Standard scores are required; percentiles and grade equivalents are not acceptable unless standard scores are also included. In addition to actual test scores, interpretation of results is required. Test protocol sheets or scores alone are not sufficient.
  • Comprehensive testing must be administered – The following are suggestions.
    • Aptitudeplease use the most recent version of measures such as:
      Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale
      Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-educational Battery – Tests of Cognitive Ability
      Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (KBIT) is not a comprehensive measure and is not suitable.
    • Achievementplease use the most recent version of measures such as:
      Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-educational Battery – Tests of Achievement
      Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT)
      Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT) and the Mini-Battery of Achievement (MBA) are not comprehensive measures of achievement and therefore are not suitable.
    • Information Processing
      Specific areas of information processing (e.g., short- and long-term memory; sequential memory; auditory and visual perception/processing; processing speed) must be assessed.
  • Evaluator’s rationale to support the need for college level academic accommodations
    The evaluator must include a detailed summary of the impact of the specific learning disability on academic performance as well as recommendations for reasonable academic accommodations. While the post-secondary institution has no obligation to 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.