Documentation must clearly identify a diagnosis, which major life activities are affected by the impairment and what specific activities the individual is unable to perform or is significantly restricted in performing when compared with an average person in the general population (functional limitations). The DRO utilizes flexibility and discretion in determining if submitted documentation is sufficient. Changing conditions and/or changes in the student’s functional limitations may warrant more frequent updates from clinician/provider. Generally, sufficient documentation includes: a psychological/psycho-educational evaluation or a letter from medical/mental health provider which includes the below numbered items.
- 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.
- 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.
- Description of Diagnostic Methodology: 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.
- Current Impact and Functional Limitations: A clear description of the nature and severity of the impairment, the duration or expected duration of the impairment, and the permanence or expected long term impact. Information regarding if symptoms are constant or episodic, and the frequency 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.
- Recommendations: Recommendations are welcomed and considered, however DRO makes the ultimate determination on eligibility and reasonable academic adjustments necessary to provide equal access for participation in academic courses, programs and activities. Recommendations should be directly linked to the impact or functional limitations associated with the disability, or medication prescribed to control symptoms and include a clear rationale based on level of impairment.
Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Requests: documentation should additionally:
- speak to an existing and continuing diagnostic and therapeutic relationship.
- include the provider’s confirmation that the Emotional Support Animal has been prescribed for treatment purposes and is necessary to help alleviate symptoms associated with the person’s condition and/or to help the person use and enjoy the benefits of University Housing services.
- include a clear description of how the animal will mitigate functional limitations.
Generally, 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.
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.
*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.
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, the following materials alone are generally not sufficient for determining eligibility and could prolong the eligibility process:
- office medical records, medical chart notes or prescription pad notations
- high school IEPs, 504 Plans, Response To Intervention and/or SOPs not accompanied by documentation of the disability itself
- documents prepared for specific non-educational venues (i.e., Social -Security Administration, etc.)
- documentation which only include general statements of diagnosis, symptoms or difficulties