Acceptable sources of documentation for substantiating a student’s disability and request for particular accommodations include the student’s self-report, information provided by qualified evaluators or professionals, and direct observation and interaction with the student.
The student is the most important source of information regarding their experience of disability, barriers, and effective and ineffective accommodations. The student provides this information on the Student Application , in email communications, and during the initial meeting with the Associate Director of Academic Success (Associate Director).
Information from Qualified Evaluators or Professionals
Relevant information from qualified evaluators or professionals 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. Ideally, the information should adhere to the specific documentation guidelines as listed below.
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.
For example, documents could include:
- 504 plan – a formal plan that a previous school has developed to provide the student with the support they need for a condition that limits daily activities in a major way;
- Individualized Education Plan (IEP) – a form that is used to document specific disabilities in the K-12 school setting; or
- Medical documentation from a medical doctor, psychiatrist, or psychologist. This could include psychological evaluation.
Submission of Documentation
Documentation should be provided in a timely manner to allow for review, follow up, and questions related to the documentation (ideally, at least one business day before the student’s initial meeting with the Associate Director).
Documents may be provided to the Associate Director of Academic Success by:
- Uploading them to Southwestern’s Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) Online Services portal; or
- Submitting them:
- by email at firstname.lastname@example.org;
- by fax at 512-863-1744;
- by mail to 1001 E. University Ave., Georgetown, TX 78626; or
- in person at the Center for Academic Success (Prothro Center for Lifelong Learning, Suite 120).
Specific Documentation Guidelines
1. The documentation should be typed on letterhead and cannot be provided by a relative. Handwritten notes are not accepted as documentation.
2. The documentation should outline the provider’s 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.