For these purposes, disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.
Temporary, non-chronic impairments of short duration with little or no residual effects that usually will not substantially limit a major life activity: common cold, seasonal or common influenza, a sprained joint, minor and non-chronic gastrointestinal disorders, a broken bone expected to heal completely, appendicitis, and seasonal allergies are usually not qualifying conditions. In most cases, test anxiety is not a disability and does not qualify a student for accommodations.
Documentation of disability assists the Office of Accessibility Resources (OAR) in collaborating with the student to determine reasonable accommodations and/or services, which are provided on a case-by-case basis. If the submitted documentation is incomplete or does not support the student’s request for accommodations and/or services, the student may be asked to provide additional documentation. The cost of obtaining all documentation is borne by the student. Students are encouraged to contact Accessibility Resources for guidance on the documentation needed for their individual situations.
Three primary questions help to determine whether an individual has a disability under ADA:
Three: Is the limitation on any major life activity substantial?
Not only must a person have an impairment that limits one or more major life activities, but the limitation of at least one major life activity must be “substantial.” An impairment “substantially limits” a major life activity if the person cannot perform a major life activity the way an average person in the general population can, or is significantly restricted in the condition, manner or duration of doing so. An impairment is “substantially limiting” under the ADA if the limitation is “severe,” “significant,” “considerable," or "to a large degree."
Eligibility for reasonable accommodations is established through a variety of information sources including, but not limited to, the student’s self-report, observation and interaction with the student and documentation from external sources including health care providers and educational professionals.
The following guidelines are offered to assist students in providing documentation to establish their eligibility for reasonable accommodations. Ideally, documentation:
- is issued by a medical or other qualified/credentialed professional whose credentials match the disability being evaluated; comprehensive training with regard to the specific disability being addressed and is essential
- contains a specific diagnostic statement; the diagnostic systems suggested in the recent editions of either the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-V) or the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems of the World Health Organization (ICD) are the recommended diagnostic taxonomies
- is comprehensive to establish clear evidence of a substantial impact on one or more major life activities; the degree to which (severity) the impairment limits each major life activity and the expected duration should be addressed
- offers a description of prior accommodations, mitigating measures, therapeutic interventions and compliance
- recommends a complete description of the desired accommodation or modification and discussion of why this is necessary (including why the student’s needs cannot be met without this accommodation or modification and the consequences of not receiving it)
- is recent enough to assess the current impact and functional limitations posed in a college setting
Types of Documentation
OAR will review and consider all types of documentation submitted. Types of documentation that may be helpful include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Educational, psychological, or medical reports
- Reports and letters created by healthcare providers, psychologists, or the educational system (e.g., a psycho-educational evaluation)
- Documents that reflect accommodation history, such as an Individual Education Program (IEP), Summary of Performance (SOP), and teacher observations
Submit disability documentation to:
Office of Accessibility Resources
320 Washington Street
Easton, MA 02357