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Documentation Guidelines


The DRO considers students as the primary source of information regarding institutional barriers they experience on the basis of a disability but typically requires supporting documentation when the disability is not readily observable. DRO has created the below guidelines (not requirements) to assist us in understanding specific disability related impacts. We utilize flexibility in determining how recent documentation must be and understand some conditions are permanent/non-varying and others may warrant more frequent updates.

It is quite possible in general to have a diagnosis without meeting the criteria for having a disability since there are a number of diagnostic categories that do not require the effects to be long-term nor impact a major life activity. Generally, sufficient documentation includes: a psychological/psycho-educational evaluation or a letter from a medical/mental health provider which includes the following information.

  1. Qualifications of Clinician/Provider: Documentation must be typed on office or practice letterhead, dated and signed by a professional who is licensed or certified in the area for which the diagnosis is made. Name, title, and license/certification credentials must be stated and shall not be family members or others with a close personal relationship to the individual.
  2. Diagnosis & History: A diagnostic statement identifying the disability including ICD or DSM classification along with any relevant personal, psycho-social, medical, developmental and/or educational history.
  3. Description of Diagnostic Methodology(when applicable): A full description of the diagnostic methodology used, including data and measurements from appropriate evaluation instruments. The results obtained should establish a direct link to the diagnosis and the functional limitations of the disability. For cognitive disorders, evaluations should use adult norms.
  4. Current Impact and Functional Limitations: A clear description of the level of severity along with the current impact and functional limitations pertaining to the academic and/or residential settings. Information regarding if symptoms are constant or episodic, and the frequency and/or duration should be addressed.
    • Any treatments, medications, and/or assistive devices/services currently prescribed or in use, should include a description of the mediating effects and potential side effects from such treatments.
  5. Recommendations: Recommendations accompanied by a rationale that is directly linked to the impact, functional limitations or medication prescribed to control symptoms associated with the disability are welcomed and considered. However, DRO makes the final determination of the eligibility and appropriate academic adjustments necessary to provide equal opportunity for participation.

*Visiting students taking a class at NC State may provide documentation of their current accommodations and diagnosis from their current home institution in order to expedite the opportunity to utilize comparable accommodations at NC State.

Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Requests:

Some websites sell letters, certificates, registrations, and licensing documents for assistance animals to anyone who answers certain questions or participates in a short interview and pays a fee. Generally, such documentation is not, by itself, sufficient to reliably establish that an individual has a non-observable disability or disability-related need for an assistance animal. In addition, documentation from health care professionals who review emotional profiles and create template ESA letters for public housing and air carriers, or who have had no contact with the student except for limited encounters that were specifically intended to produce an ESA letter are not considered reliable.

Appropriate documentation should additionally:

  • speak to an existing and continuing diagnostic and therapeutic relationship.
  • include the providers confirmation that the Emotional Support Animal has been deemed to be a necessary component of treatment in order for the student to reside on campus.
  • include a clear description of how the animal will mitigate functional limitations. 

Generally Insufficient Documentation

The DRO does not diagnose impairments, assess their severity, or identify the current impact and/or functional limitations of a disability, therefore, office medical records, medical chart notes or prescription pad notations are generally not sufficient for determining eligibility and by submitting it could prolong the decision process.

Information based solely on a self-report questionnaire is not a clinically valid assessment. A clinician might appropriately use them to identify areas needing to be explored in more depth; however, they are not diagnostic tools and they do not form an adequate basis for recommending treatments or accommodations.

Documentation guidelines vary from one institution to another.  The DRO documentation guidelines are designed to meet the needs of NC State University.  If the student plans on attending a different institution or taking a standardized test administered by an outside agency, the student is responsible for researching those documentation policies and requirements.  Due to the differences of documentation requirements, it may not be appropriate for the DRO staff to complete paperwork certifying eligibility for standardized tests. In such instances, the access consultant will explain why completing the eligibility paperwork is not appropriate.