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Columbia College Chicago
Documentation Guidelines
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Documentation Guidelines

The following documentation guidelines have been established whereby sufficient documentation of a disability that is in accordance with the law can be provided. These guidelines are provided so the necessary Columbia College Chicago officials can make informed decisions in order to provide appropriate reasonable accommodations and equal access to education for students with disabilities. These guidelines exist to empower both students with disabilities and the Columbia officials that serve students with disabilities to more fully understand students’ disabilities and to be better able to advocate for them. The following guidelines apply to documentation of any type of disability. See also the specific criteria for documenting learning disabilities, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), psychiatric disabilities, physical disabilities, and/or chronic illnesses at Columbia College Chicago.

Documentation of a disability must be provided by a qualified professional who is unrelated to the student being evaluated. This would include, but is not limited to, a medical doctor, psychiatrist, school psychologist, clinical psychologist, counseling psychologist, neuropsychologist, or social worker.

In general, documentation should be no more than 3 years old. For individuals who have learning disabilities and/or AD/HD, it is not necessary to update documentation after age 18. It is necessary to present documentation that verifies current characteristics of the disabling condition and the functional limitations related to this condition. For some chronic medical conditions, it may not be necessary to provide documentation within this 3 year timeframe.

Documentation must state the nature of a student’s disability/diagnosis and how this disability impacts the student’s daily functioning, especially in academic areas. Reports of any testing done to document the disability should be included (a test-score summary is recommended), and areas of strengths and weakness should be indicated. The documentation must also provide recommendations for how to best address the student’s disability-related needs. A doctor’s note indicating that a student has a particular disability, is taking a particular medication, and/or needs a particular accommodation does not constitute adequate documentation of any disability.

An IEP or 504 Plan is not appropriate documentation of disability at the post-secondary level.

US Dept. of Education:Office of Civil Rights Letter for Parents

US Dept. of Education:Office of Civil Rights Letter for Colleague

A psychoeducational evaluation plan is required for conditions such as learning disabilities and AD/HD; However, other disabilities for which a formal report that satisfies the above criteria may not be available, please contact the SSD Office at 312.369.8296 or ssd@colum.edu for a Verification of Disability form.

Please contact the Interpreting Services Coordinator at 312.344.8295 or ( dwilborn@colum.edu ) with questions regarding documentation for deafness or hard-of-hearing status.

Guideline for Specific Disabilities

Learning Disabilities
In addition to meeting the general guidelines, the documentation must also:

  • Indicate a significant discrepancy between IQ and achievement;
  • Demonstrate a processing deficit (such as slow speed of processing, poor visual discrimination, etc.), which explains the underachievement;
  • Explain how other conditions (such as sensory deficits, attention problems, etc.) were excluded as an explanation for underachievement;
  • Include a history and background section;
  • Include a test score summary.
Acceptable tests to assess for IQ, achievement, and/or processing include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-III
  • Stanford-Binet-V
  • Detroit Tests of Leaning Aptitude-4
  • Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities and Tests of Achievement-III
  • Wide Range Achievement Test, Third Edition
  • Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-III
  • Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals-3
  • Test of Adolescent and Adult Language-3
  • Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processes
  • Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests
  • Stanford Diagnostic Reading and/or Math Tests
  • Nelson-Denny Reading Test (Form G or H)
  • Gray Oral Reading Test-4 and/or Gray Silent Reading Test
  • Test of Written Spelling-4
  • Test of Written Language-3
  • Key Math
  • Test of Visual Perception Skills-R, Upper level
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) / Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) )
In addition to meeting the general guidelines, the documentation must also:
  • Satisfy the criteria set forth in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV-TR;
  • Indicate the subtype (primarily inattentive, primarily hyperactive/impulsive, or combined);
  • Include reports of continuous performance tasks (CPTs);
  • Include reports of symptom checklists;
  • Include reports of neurological testing to document AD/HD;
  • Provide information on the history of difficulties;
  • Provide information on previous and current treatments/interventions and their success;
  • List current medication(s) and possible side-effects/impacts on academic functioning.
Psychological/Psychiatric Disabilities
In addition to meeting the general guidelines, the documentation must also:
  • Include any reports elucidating the nature, severity, and specific DSM-IV-TR diagnosis of the disability;
  • List current medication(s) and possible side-effects/impacts on academic functioning.
  • Verification of Disability form may be required.
Physical Disabilities & Chronic Illness
In addition to meeting the general guidelines, the documentation must also:
  • Include any reports detailing the formal diagnosis of a student's disability/illness with any functioning and learning limitations posed;
  • List current medication(s) and possible side-effects/impacts on academic functioning.
  • Verification of Disability form may be required.