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Framework For Documenting A Disability

The Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act of 2008 defines a disability as a substantial limitation of a major life function. Students requesting academic adjustments, accommodations, or auxiliary aids from Disability Services at Simmons College are required to submit documentation of their disability to verify eligibility under the Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act of 2008, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Disability Services' policies. We suggest that students initiate a request for services and/or reasonable accommodations once their admission is confirmed by following the steps below.

The three major steps to requesting accommodations are to:

  • Submit documentation. The student must schedule an intake appointment with a Disability Services staff member to discuss available support services and the process for requesting accommodations. In order to fully evaluate requests for accommodations or auxiliary aids Simmons College will need documentation of the disability that consists of an evaluation by an appropriate professional and describes the current impact of the disability as it relates to the accommodation request.
  • Request services at the intake appointment. Submission of documentation is not the same as the request for services.
  • Participate in the determination of reasonable and appropriate accommodations.

As appropriate to the disability, documentation should include:

  • A diagnostic statement identifying the disability, date of the current diagnostic evaluation, and the date of the original diagnosis. The diagnostic systems used by the Department of Education, The Area Education Agencies, The State Department of Rehabilitative Services or other State agencies and/or the current editions of either the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-IV-TR) or the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems of the World Health Organization (ICD) are the recommended diagnostic taxonomies.
  • A diagnostic criteria and or diagnostic test used. This description should include the specific results of diagnostic procedures, diagnostic tests utilized, and when it was administered. Diagnostic methods used should be congruent with the disability and current professional practices within the field. Informal or non-standardized evaluations should be described in enough detail that a professional colleague could understand their role and significance in the diagnostic process.
  • A description of the current functional impact of the disability. The current functional impact on physical, perceptual, cognitive, and behavioral abilities should be described either explicitly or through the provision of specific results from the diagnostic procedures. Currency will be evaluated based on the typical progression of the disability, its interaction with development across the life span, the presence or absence of significant events (since the date of the evaluation) that would impact functioning, and the applicability of the information to the current context of the request for accommodations.
  • A description of current and historical treatments, medications, accommodations and/or assistive services. This description should include a statement regarding the effectiveness in minimizing the impact of the disability. Significant and potential side effects that may impact physical, perceptual, behavioral or cognitive performance should also be noted.
  • A description of the expected progression or stability of the impact of the disability over time. This description should provide an estimate of the change in the functional limitations of the disability over time and/or recommendations concerning the predictable needs for reevaluation.

Recommendations for accommodations

Depending on the impact of the condition on the individual, the statement should include suggestions or recommendations for accommodations, adaptive devices, assistive services, compensatory strategies, and/or collateral support services that can help to provide full access. As appropriate, recommendations for collateral medical, psychological, and/or educational support services or training that would be beneficial may also be included. Recommendations from professionals with a history of working with the individual provide valuable information for the review process. They will be included in the evaluation of requests for accommodation and/or auxiliary aids. Where such recommendations are congruent with the programs, services, and benefits offered by Simmons College, they will be given deference. When recommendations go beyond services and benefits that can be provided by the College they may be used to suggest potential referrals to area service providers beyond Simmons College.

The credentials of the diagnosing professional(s). Information describing the certification, licensure, and/or the professional training of individuals conducting the evaluation should be provided.

The review process includes an examination of the presented documentation to determine the functional limitation resulting from the disability and how that limitation impacts the goals and standards of the program or course.

Provisional accommodations might be offered in the interim, but a final determination of accommodations will not be made until the student's documentation is complete. The following guidelines were developed to assist students in obtaining the information needed to evaluate their accommodation request. Questions may be addressed to the Director of Disability Services, Timothy Rogers, at (617) 521-2474; (617) 521-3079 (FAX); (617) 521-2489 (TTY); or email

Sources of Information:

For high school students who received or are currently receiving special education services, the information requested may be contained in the assessment or in the high school records. Seldom would the IEP contain all the information necessary to determine eligibility or need. Because this information is not part of the general academic record, students must specifically request this information from their high school.

Individuals receiving vocational rehabilitation services may have needed information contained in the eligibility evaluation and/or your vocational plan.

Information relating to the disability is not part of the academic record and will not be sent with a transcript request. Consequently, individuals transferring to another college must request that the history of their accommodations and a copy of their documentation be sent from the transferring college's disability office to the disability office at their new school upon signing a release.


Main Campus Building Room E108

300 The Fenway
Boston, MA 02115


For more information regarding Disability Services, please contact:

Timothy Rogers
Director of Disability Services

Erin Glover
Coordinator, Disability Services

For appointments, call 617-521-2474.