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Documentation Guidelines

Purpose, guidelines, and forms for the documentation needed to demonstrate a student is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Purpose of Documentation

Penn State’s Student Disability Resources (SDR) office requests documentation of a disability for the purpose of demonstrating that a student is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. These laws define a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

The documentation requested by Student Disability Resources establishes a student’s disability status, aids in understanding how the disability may impact a student, and provides adequate information on the functional impact of the disability so that effective reasonable accommodations can be identified.

Reasonable accommodations are individually determined and may vary from student to student.

Acceptable Documentation

Documentation submitted to Student Disability Resources supporting a student’s request for reasonable accommodations must indicate that the student’s disability substantially limits one or more major life activities.

The documentation should reflect functional limitations that are currently impacting the student as determined by the appropriate professional who is qualified to evaluate the functional impact of the disability and render conclusions about the need for accommodations.

Student Disability Resources has not adopted a documentation currency requirement, but documentation will only be accepted if it reflects the present-day status of the student’s functional limitations.

Student Disability Resources may waive documentation requirements for a student whose disability is readily apparent or obvious (e.g., paralysis, total blindness, deafness).

For students whose disabilities or need for accommodations are not readily apparent, Student Disability Resources has established disability-specific criteria highlighting functional areas of impact that must be met in order for a student to receive services.

Links to the disability-specific documentation guidelines can be found below. Examples of documentation that may meet Student Disability Resources’ guidelines include, but are not limited to:

  • neuropsychological evaluations
  • psychoeducational evaluations
  • medical evaluations
  • physiological assessments
  • audiograms

Please note that recent secondary school documentation, such as Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) or Section 504 Plans, may assist in Student Disability Resources’ determination for services, but their sole submission may not meet Penn State's Student Disability Resources documentation requirements.

If a student does not have comprehensive disability documentation available for submission, Student Disability Resources provides verification forms for all disabilities to facilitate the documentation process. Many of the forms can be used independently to document the functional limitations associated with a disability or they can be used to supplement current documentation.

Some verification forms, where noted, cannot be submitted alone and must accompany additional documentation as indicated. 

Any documentation submitted, including a completed verification form, must meet Student Disability Resources’ disability-specific guidelines for acceptance.

Student Disability Resources reserves the right to determine whether submitted documentation supports the need for reasonable accommodations based on the functional impact of the disability in the college environment.

How to Submit Documentation

Disability documentation should be submitted to the disability services office at the Penn State campus the student is attending.

If the student is attending the University Park campus, the form should be returned to the Student Disability Resources office in 116 Boucke Building.

If the student is attending another Penn State campus, the form should be returned to the disability coordinator at that campus.

Disability documentation submitted to Student Disability Resources is treated in a confidential manner according to all pertinent state and federal regulations.

In addition to the documentation, Student Disability Resources requires an intake interview (either in person or by phone) with the student requesting services. Student Disability Resources considers the individual with a disability to be a valuable source of information regarding the impact of his or her disability and the effectiveness of accommodations.

Penn State's Verification Forms