Documentation Guidelines: Psychological Disabilities

Students seeking support services from Services for Student Accessibility Services (SAS) on the basis of a previously diagnosed psychological disability must submit documentation that verifies their eligibility under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act. The documentation must describe a disabling condition, which is defined by the presence of substantial limitations in one or more major life activities. Merely submitting evidence of a diagnosis is not sufficient to warrant academic accommodations. Similarly, nonspecific diagnoses, such as “adjustment problems,” “emotional difficulties,” “mood disturbance,” and/or “test difficulty/anxiety” in and of themselves do not constitute a disability. The guidelines below are intended to allow SAS to determine eligibility for services and appropriate accommodations. SAS staff are available at 956-882-7374 on the Brownsville campus or 956-665-7005 on the Edinburg campus for consultation. A comprehensive report of any testing conducted (including test scores, if relevant) should be included with the verification form.

Documentation should include:

  1. DSM-5 or ICD Diagnosis (text and code), given based on a formal assessment of current psychological and health status, and a formal diagnosis of a disabling condition provided by a licensed treatment provider (e.g., psychiatrist, licensed clinical psychologist, licensed social worker, etc.) Licensed treatment provider should not be related to the individual being assessed. In order to establish a history of the condition and recency of evaluation.
    1. Date of diagnosis.

    2. Date of last contact: The assessment must be current. Accommodations are based on an assessment of the current nature and impact of your disability. Because psychological conditions may change over time, current evaluations are critical for providing reasonable accommodations. In general, this means that evaluations must have been completed within the last twelve (12) months prior to accommodation requests. In addition, depending on the nature of the disability, evaluations may need to be updated on a semester-by-semester or yearly basis.
  2. Comprehensive Evaluation

    1. A diagnostic interview and other tools used to determine relevant background in support of the diagnosis.

    2. The evaluation should include treatments  (e.g., medication, therapy) currently in use and provide a description of the expected progression of the disability over time (i.e., permanent/chronic vs. short-term/temporary). Information on medication side effects is useful and may be considered in accommodation decisions.

    3. Onset, history, and prognosis of diagnosis and symptoms.

  3. Functional limitations: Should be determined WITHOUT consideration of mitigating measures (i.e. medication, etc.). If condition is episodic in nature, level of functioning should be assessed based on active phase of symptoms.
    1. Major life activities that are functionally limited by the individual’s symptoms.

    2. Behavioral manifestations of the diagnosis that functionally limits the individual in the academic setting. Information to consider includes the severity pervasiveness, and frequency of symptoms.

    3. Any special considerations that should be made (i.e. side effects of medication, etc.)

  4. Accommodations: A description of accommodations and services used in the past and recommended accommodations for the future. It is important to note that Student Accessibility Services makes the determination regarding what accommodations are appropriate in the University environment.

All documentation must be submitted on the official letterhead of the professional describing the disability. The report should be dated and signed and include the name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator, including information about license or certification. Evaluators should not be related to the individual being assessed.

Student Accessibility Services will make the determination regarding whether accommodations are reasonable in the University environment. 

All documentation submitted to SAS is considered confidential.