Documentation Guidelines


A. Documentation Policy

Students with disabilities are responsible for providing documentation of their disabilities to the Office of Disability Services (ODS). This documentation must both establish disability and provide adequate information on the functional impact of the disability so that accommodations can be identified and provided. This documentation will be kept confidential and maintained in a locked file in ODS. All documentation should:

  • Come from an appropriate licensed clinical professional familiar with the history and functional implications of the disability.
  • Verify the nature and extent of the disability in accordance with current professional standards and techniques. This must include a description of the diagnostic criteria, evaluation methods, procedures, tests and dates of administration, as well as a clinical narrative, observation and specific results.
  • Be dated and signed, and submitted on official letterhead including the name, title and professional credentials of the evaluator.
  • Establish that the student has a disability that conforms to the federal disability definition. A clear diagnostic statement that describes how the condition was diagnosed, provides information on the functional impact, and details the progression or prognosis of the condition is required.
  • Describe how the disability impacts the student's participation in campus activities and programs.
  • Reflect the student's current level of functioning in the postsecondary setting, demonstrating whether and how a major life activity is substantially limited by providing a clear sense of the severity, frequency and pervasiveness of the condition(s).
  • Include a description of both current and past medications, auxiliary aids, assistive devices, support services, and accommodations, including their effectiveness in ameliorating functional impacts of the disability.
  • Include recommendations for accommodations, adaptive devices, assistive services, compensatory strategies, and/or collateral support services.


  • If the original documentation is incomplete or inadequate to determine the extent of the disability or reasonable accommodation, the university has the discretion to require additional documentation. Any cost incurred in obtaining additional documentation when the original records are inadequate is the responsibility of the student.
  • If the documentation is complete but the university desires a second professional opinion, the university bears the cost.
  • It is not acceptable for documentation to include a diagnosis or testing battery performed by a member of the student's family.
  • Students requesting accommodations for the manifestations of multiple disabilities must provide evidence of all such conditions.
  • Guidelines for documentation for specific disabilities, such as learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, psychiatric disabilities or others as identified are available through ODS.

ODS Disability Documentation forms can be found here.

B. Confidentiality

The Office of Disability Services (ODS) is committed to ensuring that all information and communication pertaining to a student's disability is maintained as confidential as required or permitted by law.

The following guidelines about the treatment of such information have been adopted by ODS and will be shared with students. These guidelines incorporate relevant state and federal regulations.

  1. No one will have immediate access to student files in ODS except appropriate staff of ODS or Student Educational Services in which ODS is located. Any information regarding a student's disability is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and will only be disclosed as permitted or required by FERPA.
  2. Sensitive information in ODS student files will not be released except in accordance with federal and state laws.
  3. A student's file may be released pursuant to a court order or subpoena.
  4. If a student wishes to have information about his/her disability shared with others, the student must provide written authorization to the ODS Coordinator to release the information. Before giving such authorization, the student should understand the purpose of the release and to whom the information is being released.
  5. A student has the right to review his/her own ODS file with reasonable notification.

C. Common Academic Accommodations

Appropriate accommodations are individualized and flexible, based on the nature of the disability and the academic environment. Below is a partial list of common academic accommodations that may be coordinated through the Office of Disability Services in collaboration with faculty and other pertinent offices on campus. They appear in this list due to the frequency with which they may be offered or requested, and will not be automatically provided to all students with disabilities.


D. Common Non-Academic Accommodations

Below is a partial list of common accommodations for university-sponsored activities and programs outside of the classroom for students with documented disabilities. The Office of Disability Services in collaboration with pertinent offices on campus coordinates these accommodations on a case-by-case basis according to the nature of the disability. They appear in this list due to the frequency with which they may be offered or requested, and will not be automatically provided to all students with disabilities.

E. Specific Disabilities

DEFINITIONS, DESCRIPTIONS AND POSSIBLE IN-CLASS AND OUT-OF-CLASS SERVICES OR STRATEGIES TO BE APPLIED ON A CASE-BY-CASE BASIS. (Based upon a student's documented disability, the indicated services for students may be appropriate. They are provided as examples only and are not intended as a list of choice.)

1. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)

Definition: a neurobiological condition that is manifested in a persistent pattern of distractibility, impulsivity or hyperactivity. It arises during childhood, persists throughout a person's lifetime and is attributed neither to gross sensory, language or motor impairment nor to mental retardation or severe emotional disturbance. The exact nature and severity of symptoms vary from person to person.

Common ADD/ADHD problems/deficits exhibited:

  • Lack of organization in work produced.
  • Chronic procrastination, difficulty meeting deadlines or due dates.
  • Easy distractibility, difficulty staying focused on a task.
  • Impulsivity, blurting out answers.
  • High level of creativity and intelligence.
  • Low tolerance of frustration.

The following services may be appropriate:

Equipment available on campus to assist students with ADD/ADHD at Marquette: Kurzweil 3000 software system, Reading Edge and Telex Scholar DC player for texts on CD.

2. Blind/Partially Sighted Disabilities

Definition: disorders in the function of the eye as manifested by at least one of the following: 1) visual acuity of 20-200-the legally blind person can see at 20 feet what the average-sighted person can see at 200; 2) low vision-limited or diminished vision that cannot be corrected with standard lenses; and 3) field restriction -- ­the field of vision is impaired because of illness, a degenerative syndrome, or trauma.

The following service may be appropriate:

Equipment available on campus to assist blind/partially sighted students at Marquette: Kurzweil education 1000 and 3000 Systems, Reading Edge, and Telex Scholar CD player.

3. Deaf/Hard of Hearing Students

Definition: hearing loss attributed to two causes:

1) sensorineural (nerve deafness which involves impairment of the auditory nerve and affects the inner ear), or 2) conductive loss (a dysfunction of part of the ear mechanism affecting the outer and middle ear). Some students may have both types of hearing loss.

Implications for Postsecondary Education

Some students who have residual hearing may rely on lip reading and use hearing aids or assistive listening devices. Hearing aids amplify all sounds and can make small noises such as air conditioners, hissing lighting fixtures and traffic noise overwhelming. Lip reading students usually comprehend only about 30-40% of what is said and have difficulty understanding instructors who cover their lips, face the chalkboard, move around or wear a mustache. Class discussions can also be problematic.

Some students may require the use of sign or oral language interpreters to access the information being presented in class. Sign language interpreters use highly developed language and finger spelling skills for several types of sign language (American Sign Language or Pidgin Sign English as examples). Oral interpreters silently form words on their lips for speech reading. Interpreters will interpret all information in a given situation, including instructor's comments, class discussion and environmental sounds.

Some students may benefit from real time captioning, a process involving a stenographer, translating software and a computer. The stenographer transcribes what is being said in class that is translated almost instantaneously through software to a computer screen. The student is then able to follow the course of the class from the computer screen. Another type of accommodation is C-Print captioning, where the captionist transcribes what is said in class in a word processing format.

The following services may be appropriate:

4. Head Injury

Definition: Head injuries are not visible and are very complex. They result from either external or internal trauma. They can result in seizures, loss of balance or coordination, difficulty with speech, limited concentration, memory loss, loss of organizational and reasoning skills, loss of ability to quickly process information, loss of language functions, and changes in behavior.

The following services may be appropriate:

5. Learning Disabilities

Definition: Learning disabilities is a general term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities. These disorders are intrinsic to the individual, presumed to be due to central nervous system dysfunction, and may occur across the life span. Problems in self-regulatory behaviors, social perception, and social interaction may exist with learning disabilities but do not by themselves constitute a learning disability. Although learning disabilities may occur concomitantly with other disabling conditions, (for example, sensory impairment, mental retardation, serious emotional disturbance), or with extrinsic influences (such as cultural differences, insufficient or inappropriate instruction), they are not the result of those conditions or influences.

Implications for Postsecondary Education:

  • Auditory processing (difficulty perceiving or processing auditory material i.e., differentiating between similar sounds, hearing sounds out of sequence, difficulty in "tuning out" background noise).
  • Visual processing (difficulty perceiving or processing visual material, i.e., seeing an image in a competing background, seeing things in correct sequence, differentiating between similar objects, perceiving depth or distance).
  • Information processing speed (how quickly one receives information, processes the information and reacts to it).
  • Abstract and general reasoning (difficulty thinking in an orderly, logical way, difficulty applying learned skill to a new task).
  • Long and short term, visual or auditory memory (difficulty processing information to transfer into long-term memory, difficulty remembering rote facts, difficulty recalling information from memory in test situations).
  • Spoken and written language skills (difficulty in expressing oneself coherently, difficulty with the physical act of writing i.e., dysgraphia).
  • Reading skills (difficulty with any task in which reading is an essential component, i.e., dyslexia).
  • Mathematical skills (difficulty with calculations, rapid processing of math facts, reversal of numbers i.e., dyscalculia).
  • Visual spatial skills (difficulty perceiving dimensions of space, trouble distinguishing left from right, north from south, up from down, ahead and behind).
  • Motor skills (difficulty with physical coordination, seeing, then doing or hearing, then doing problems).
  • Planning skills (difficulty managing or prioritizing time and tasks).

The following services may be appropriate:

Equipment available on campus to assist students with learning disabilities at Marquette: Kurzweil 3000 software system, Reading Edge and Telex Scholar CD player.

6. Physical Impairments

Definition: impairments ranging in severity from limitations on stamina to paralysis impacting on physical mobility and movement. These include quadriplegia, paraplegia, amputation, arthritis, back disorders, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis.

Implications for Postsecondary Education

Physical disability is separate from matters of cognition. When talking to a person in a wheelchair, talk to them at their eye level. Take time to understand the person if speech is affected. Take cues from the individual if assistance is needed with a particular task. Students should let faculty and staff know if help is needed depending on the severity of their impairment. Each person's physical rehabilitation level is different.

The following services may be appropriate:

  • Priority registration to group classes in buildings of close proximity.(Early Registration Policy, Early Registration Request Form)
  • Extra time for tests if there are manual dexterity problems, or provide alternative arrangements for testing, including tests on computer, use of scribes, audio taping responses or oral tests. (Extended Test Time Request Form, Test Proctoring Request Form)
  • Reasonable extensions for assignments due to slow writing speed or medical concerns which involve time in a doctor's office or hospital to be negotiated with instructors.
  • Residence hall access to sleeping rooms, bathrooms, dining halls and common areas.
  • Partners who can function as a student's hands or legs in labs or other class settings.
  • Accessible classroom/location/furniture.
  • Access to designated handicapped parking spaces.
  • Access to keys for keyed elevators.
  • Use of tape recorders and laptops in class.
  • Access to recreation programs, equipment and facilities.
  • Spectator access for athletic activities.
  • Notetakers. (Notetaking Policy, Notetaker Request Form)

7. Psychiatric/Psychological Disabilities

Definition: chronic conditions affecting emotions that have documented medical and psychological intervention. Includes depression, bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders, and schizophrenia. With appropriate treatment, a vast majority of individuals with these disabilities can function effectively.

The following services may be appropriate:

  • Extended time for exams. (Extended Test Time Request Form, Test Proctoring Request Form)
  • Notetakers, tape recorders in class. (Notetaking Policy, Notetaker Request Form)
  • Flexibility for attendance requirement in case of hospitalization/crises to be negotiated with instructors on a course by course basis.
  • Consideration of incompletes or late withdrawals rather than failures in the event of prolonged illness­ related absences which will be negotiated on a course by course basis with instructors.
  • Allowing beverages in class to accommodate side effects of medication.

8. Systematic Disabilities/Chronic Illness

Definition: disabilities stemming from conditions affecting one or more of the body's systems-respiratory, immunological, neurological or circulatory. Examples include: cancer, chemical dependency, diabetes, seizure disorders, HIV, Lyme disease, lupus, multiple chemical sensitivity, severe asthma and allergies, kidney disease. Documentation from medical treating professionals must specifically state that the condition meets disability criteria.

The following services may be appropriate:

9. Illegal Drug Use / Alcoholism

Definition: Disabilities stemming from addiction to alcohol or illegal drugs.

Under certain circumstances, these addictions MAY qualify as disabilities. Students possessing these conditions are protected from disability discrimination if they:

  • Have successfully completed a supervised drug or alcohol rehabilitation program or have been otherwise successfully rehabilitated and who are no longer using illegal drugs.
  • Are currently participating in a supervised rehabilitation program and are no longer using illegal drugs.
  • Are not using drugs illegally but are erroneously regarded as engaging in illegal drug use.

Students are not protected if:

  • They are currently using illegal drugs.
  • Drug or alcohol use interferes with the student's ability to work or learn.
  • Drug or alcohol use poses a threat to property or safety of others.

The following services may be appropriate:

F. Other Resources

Other policies pertaining to the workings of the Office of Disability Services (ODS) are on file in the office and posted on our website regarding:

  • documentation guidelines for specific disabilities
  • texts in alternate formats
  • Note takers and test proctoring.

For questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.