Guidelines for Documenting a Disability

To determine reasonable accommodations, the Office of Disability Resources uses information from 1) the student’s self-report; 2) observations, knowledge, and professional judgement of the Disability Resources staff, and 3) professional documentation from third-parties.


A student’s self-report of their disability experience, barriers, and previous accommodation experience is a vital source of information. As part of the accommodation request process, students will meet with a professional from the Office of Disability resources for an intake interview. During this meeting, individuals should be prepared to discuss the following:

  • Nature and severity of diagnosed disability
  • Impact of the disability in the university environment
  • Rationale for requested accommodation(s), auxiliary aids and services for individual courses, programs, activities and/or facilities
  • Previous use of accommodations and auxiliary aids and services in the academic environment

Observation and Interaction

Office of Disability Resources staff use professional judgement, observations, and knowledge of the university environment in evaluating accommodation requests. During the intake interview, Disability Resources staff will engage students in an interactive process to establish the impact a disability barrier may have on academic, residential, and other university experiences.

Professional Documentation

Students seeking accommodations from the University of Rochester on the basis of a disability should submit documentation that identifies their disability barrier(s) and describes the current level of impairment. Documentation assists Disability Resources in understanding the impact of the disability in an academic setting and making informed decisions about the accommodation(s) being requested. Proof of a diagnosis alone does not typically meet this requirement.

For convenience, the Office of Disability Resources provides a Disability Documentation Form (fillable PDF) that may be completed by providers; additional pages may be attached as needed. However, all forms of documentation submitted by a student will be reviewed and given consideration.

Professional third-party documentation should include the following elements:

Provider Credentials

Documentation should be completed by a professional who is licensed or otherwise properly credentialed to diagnose the particular condition. Documentation completed by family members, regardless of qualifications, will not be accepted. Please be aware that UCC does not provide disability evaluations.*

Diagnostic Statement

A clear diagnostic statement identifying the disability. This should include the date of the most current assessment and the date of original diagnosis, as appropriate.

Diagnostic Methodology

A description of the current diagnostic criteria, and a clinical narrative of processes/tests used to confirm diagnosis. Diagnostic methods that are appropriate to the particular disability and consistent with current professional practices in the field are expected. Where appropriate (e.g., for learning disabilities, cognitive disorders, and ADHD), relevant summary data and specific test scores must be included.

Functional Limitations

A clear description of the functional impacts of the condition in the academic or residential environment. Provide a detailed description of the severity, frequency, and pervasiveness of the condition.

Suggested Reasonable Accommodations

Providers may suggest accommodations or academic adjustments. These recommendations should include a rationale for each based on the functional limitations of the condition. Recommendations by outside agencies will be considered and may be adopted when they are congruent with the institution in providing equal access to courses, programs, facilities and services and when they are reasonable in nature.

Documentation of a specific disability does not translate directly into a specific accommodation or set of accommodations. Instead, reasonable accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis while integrating the individual's experience with the impact of the disability and the essential elements of a program, course or activity.

*Staff at UCC are unable to provide documentation for disability accommodations but are available to assist students in locating providers off-campus who may be able to document a disabling condition. The University of Rochester Thriving Campus directory is another resource available to assist you in connecting with local providers.