Specific Learning Disability
Requirements for Professional Reports Documenting
Accommodation Needs of Students with Learning Disabilities
Under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008, Student Disability Services (SDS) protects qualified students enrolled at Cornell College from discrimination on the basis of disability and assures provision of reasonable accommodations. To do this, SDS requires documentation that diagnoses a disability and describes how the condition directly and substantially limits a major life function such as learning. The documentation must demonstrate that the condition rises to the level of a disability.
The following documentation requirements establish that the student is eligible for protection and services on the basis of a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as such. The documentation also supports the student’s request for accommodations.
The most useful documentation is type written and signed on professional letterhead and include the name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator, including license or certification, area of specialization, employment, affiliation, and the state or province of practice. Please note that IEP’s and 504 plans will not necessarily be considered adequate documentation, but will be integrated by the professional into the final report.
The following items being present in your documentation will make it easier to assess the student's needs:
I. Qualifications of the Evaluator
Professionals conducting assessments and rendering diagnoses of Learning Disabilities and making
recommendations for accommodations have comprehensive training and relevant experience with an adult learning disabled population. Examples of such professionals are Clinical, Counseling, Educational,School Psychologists, Neuropsychologists, and relevantly trained Medical Doctors and Learning Disability Specialists. The professional completing the report must be independently licensed or working under the supervision of a licensed professional.
II. Recency of Documentation
Because the provision of all reasonable accommodations and services is based upon our review of the
professional’s assessment of the current impact of the disability on academic performance, it is in a student’s best interest to provide recent and appropriate documentation. This means that the comprehensive evaluation being submitted has ideally been completed within the past three years.
III. Comprehensive Information that Verifies the Existence of the Condition
A comprehensive evaluation should provide information about the history of the condition and verify the
existence of a current condition. Clear objective evidence of a learning disability are provided through assessment in the areas of cognitive aptitude, achievement, and information processing.
The evaluator’s report would ideally include the following:
1. Developmental, Educational, and Accommodation History: The report contains evidence of the history of learning difficulties. The report may also include information substantiated in medical and educational records. Accommodation history must be discussed.
2. Evidence of current impairment: The report describes the student’s present learning
difficulties including evidence of ongoing impairment in functioning at the time he or she was
referred for the current evaluation. Documentation must include a current DSM-IV-TR diagnosis
including the criteria by which the diagnosis was determined. A definitive diagnostic statement
must be made and stated directly. This statement should not use terms such as “suggests,”
“appears to,” “is consistent with,” “is indicative of” or similar language. Relevant current
medical information must be included.
3. Alternate causes ruled out: The report demonstrates that the evaluator(s) has investigated
and ruled out alternative psychological, medical, educational, and/or cultural explanations for the
4. A Clear DSM-IV-TR Diagnosis is provided identifying the specific type(s) of learning
5. Relevant testing is provided to establish average or higher intelligence: The WISCIII
or IV or the WAIS-III or IV has been administered and all scale and subscale information must
be included. Standard scores and percentile scores must be provided. Full scale and subscale
information has been provided for both the intelligence test and any other testing used to
substantiate a disability related to academic functioning.
6. Specific areas of information processing must be assessed in the areas of memory, auditory
and visual perception/processing, processing speed, executive functioning, and motor ability to
substantiate related accommodation requests.
7. Achievement testing must be provided to demonstrate academic impairment: The
Wechsler Individual Achievement Test-II (WIAT-II) or the Woodcock Johnson Psychoeducational
Battery-III or similar measures has been administered to measure the current impact of the
disorder on an individual’s ability to function in academic related settings. The Wide Range
Achievement Test (WRAT III or IV) is rarely sufficient in this regard.
IV. Each recommended accommodation must be discussed individually and specific evidence must support each accommodation requested in the report.
Accommodations are provided for a condition only when the condition materially restricts an individual’s
academic functioning and when there is a substantial limitation as compared to the general population.
Accommodations are not provided for relative weaknesses, areas needing improvement, or below expectancy performance that is not directly related to a disability.
Each accommodation must be correlated with specific functional limitations that have been documented in the assessment. All data must logically reflect the substantial limitation(s) to learning for which the individual is requesting accommodations. For example, a recommendation for extra times for exams may be related to the individual’s processing speed sub-score on the WAIS-III. “Laundry lists” of accommodations that are not individually supported are insufficient for this section.
Please feel free to attach any additional documentation to the report. If you have any questions, schedule a personal interview with the Coordinator of Academic Support and Advising.