Services for Students with Disabilities

Documentation Guidelines

Acceptable sources of documentation for substantiating a student’s disability and request for particular accommodations may include the student’s self-report, direct observation and interaction with the student, and/or information provided by qualified evaluators or professionals.  Accommodations are always determined on an individual, case-by-case basis.

Student Self-Report

The student is the most important source of information regarding his or her experience of disability, barriers, and effective and ineffective accommodations.  The student provides this information on the Student Application  and in the initial meeting with the Associate Director.

External Documentation

Relevant information from external sources can help to substantiate the presence of a disability and the need for accommodations. This information should provide evidence of the functional limitations of the disability and their impact on the student’s life. Criteria for the source, scope, and content of documentation differ by disability type. Documentation may include assessments, reports, and/or letters from qualified health care providers, psychologists, or diagnosticians, and/or information from a previous school (e.g., 504 plan, IEP, or ARD documents).  External or third-party documentation will ideally adhere to the following specifications:

1. The documentation should be typed on letterhead and cannot be provided by a relative. Handwritten notes will not be accepted as documentation.

2. The documentation should outline the providers credentials and the credentials should be appropriate for the diagnosis under consideration. Documentation can be provided by more than one provider if there was a team approach to diagnosis or in the case of multiple disabilities.

3. The documentation should include the diagnosis or diagnoses, and a description and/or report of any assessments or tests run to reach the diagnosis. If psycho-educational testing was conducted, the full report should be submitted.

4. From the professional opinion of the medical provider, the documentation should describe in detail the functional impact of the condition, including but not limited to how the condition impacts the student’s ability to live (breathe, eat, sleep, ambulate), learn, and function.

5. The documentation should be reasonably recent, or, if the condition was diagnosed many years ago, the medical or other personnel providing the documentation should be someone who has some history of working with the student in dealing with the condition in an on-going fashion. If a student has neither recent documentation nor a provider who has worked with them on an ongoing basis for a condition diagnosed long ago, new testing or documentation may be required before moving forward with the accommodation request.

6. The documentation can (but does not have to) include recommendations from the health care professional. The student should be aware that recommendations given by a health care professional are not a guarantee that the recommendation will be followed. Any recommendations made must be determined to be reasonable before they will be followed.  

7. Documentation should be provided in a timely manner to allow for review, follow up and questions related to the documentation (ideally, at least 1 business day before the student’s initial meeting with the Associate Director). 

8. If a student used accommodations in high school or at another college, the student may submit verification of these accommodations as supporting documents. Generally, high school 504 plans and accommodations provided at other colleges are not considered sufficient documentation on their own, but all relevant information will be considered.

Documents may be uploaded to our accommodations portal: SSD Online Services , submitted by email to smullj@southwestern.edu  , by fax at 512-863-1744, or by mail to 1001 E. University Ave. Georgetown, TX 78626.

Identification of Resources and Providers

The Center for Academic Success will accept documentation from any qualified medical or service provider. While we do not support any particular provider, the office keeps a list of professionals who have worked successfully with Southwestern or with colleges and universities in the area.  This list is available upon request.

On campus, the Center for Academic Success works closely with the Counseling Center  and Health Center  to provide comprehensive resources for students.