Guidelines for Documenting a Physical Disability

The following guidelines are intended to help define the type of information needed to substantiate eligibility and to support reasonable requests for accommodation(s). Jefferson Community College students, either incoming or enrolled, who believe they may be eligible to receive accommodation(s) based on a diagnosed, specific physical disability must submit written documentation (PDF) to verify their eligibility under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA).

Physical disabilities include a range of conditions whose diagnoses are classified in the ICD-10.It is important to note, however, that a diagnosis does not necessarily constitute a disability. In order for a physical condition to be classified as a disability, the condition must be diagnosable according to the ICD-10 and must considerably impact one or more major life activities.

According to the ADAAA, major life activities are:

  • Caring for oneself
  • Standing
  • Thinking
  • Performing manual tasks
  • Lifting
  • Communicating
  • Seeing
  • Speaking
  • Working
  • Hearing
  • Breathing
  • The operation of a major bodily function
  • Eating
  • Learning
  • Sleeping
  • Reading
  • Walking
  • Concentrating

Reasonable accommodation is an effort on the part of the College to provide equal access to its programs and services while maintaining the essential nature of the College’s programs. Accommodation(s) is determined on an individual basis as substantiated by diagnosis and impact to major life functions. Documentation review, accommodation(s), and student support are provided through the Scanlon Learning and Success Center Disability Specialist.

Evaluator Qualifications

The medical professional conducting assessments, rendering diagnoses of specific disabilities, and recommending reasonable and appropriate accommodations should be qualified to do so. The name, title, and professional credentials of the clinician, as well as information about his or her licenses or certifications, area of specialization, and location of employment or practice, should be included in the documentation. In addition, the evaluator should not be related by blood or marriage to the student being evaluated.

Timeliness of Testing

The purpose of testing is to determine a student’s current level of function and need for accommodation. Evaluation should be current (generally within the past three years).Documentation should be updated every 6–12 months unless the medical condition is a permanent.

Diagnosis and Reporting Criteria

The evaluation should be comprehensive and should provide clear and specific evidence that a physical disability exists. The clinician should also use direct language in the diagnosis and explanation for recommended accommodation(s).

A diagnosis for a physical disability will, therefore, include a specific diagnosis based on ICD-10 diagnostic criteria and will describe the degree to which the diagnosed disorder impacts a specific, major life activity or activities for the individual being evaluated. A diagnosis in and of itself does not automatically qualify an individual as having a disability. A prior history of accommodation without proof of current need does not warrant accommodation. Terms such as “academic problems” and “test taking difficulty” do not substantiate a disability. Terminology such as “suggests” or “is indicative of” should also be avoided since these terms do not directly suggest limitations to a major life function.

Medications prescribed to treat physical conditions may also manifest side effects that may be considered disabling. Therefore, the limitations currently experienced by the individual under evaluation that are caused by such side effects and that pertain to the academic setting should also be clearly articulated.

Documentation will need to be updated every 6–12 months unless the disability is a permanent medical condition.

Requested Accommodation(s)

In order for services to be provided at the college level, specific requests for accommodation(s) must be clearly articulated and accompanied by an explanation for each.

For additional information, please consult the Jefferson Community College Catalog for sections addressing disability policy and disabled student services. If you need further clarification of, or have questions in regard to these guidelines, please contact Tanya Hoistion, Disability Specialist, in the Scanlon Learning and Success Center, at 315-786-2335 or thoistion@sunyjefferson.edu, Jules Center, Room 6-202.

The Disability Specialist is the College’s approved person for deciding reasonable and appropriate accommodation based on the documentation recommendation, the disability, and the essential skill for each course. Accommodations are decided on a case-by-case basis.

Individuals with concerns about the evaluation process or the accommodations provided by the College may seek assistance, review, and appeal through Jefferson’s ADAAA/504 Compliance Officer, at 315-786-2401, Lansing Building, room 1-109.