Learning Disability Documentation Guidelines

The Accessibility Resource Center provides academic accommodations and services to students with documented disabilities. Students are required to provide comprehensive documentation to verify that a diagnosed disorder meets the legal definition of disability covered under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended (ADAAA, 2009).

The ADAAA defines disability as a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities”. Merely submitting evidence of a diagnosis, and/or a discrepancy between ability and achievement on the basis of a single subtest score is not sufficient to warrant academic accommodations. Nonspecific diagnoses, such as individual “learning styles,” “learning differences,” “academic problems,” and “test difficulty/anxiety” alone, do not constitute a disability.

The guidelines below are intended to provide guidance for the assessment process, including the areas that must be assessed in order for ARC to make appropriate decisions. Examples of specific tests that may be used within each area are available upon request. Please contact ARC at (414) 229-6287 with questions.

Documentation for a Learning Disability should include a complete and current psycho-educational or neuropsychological evaluation report. This report should include:

  1. Evaluation: Testing must be comprehensive. Objective evidence of a substantial limitation in cognition and learning must be provided. Minimally, the components must include, but are not limited to:
    • A diagnostic interview – include relevant background information in support of the diagnosis. This may include a self-report of limitations and difficulties, a history of the presenting problem(s), a developmental history, academic history, including summaries of previous evaluation results and reports of classroom behavior and performance, a history of the family’s learning difficulties and primary language spoken in the home, any pertinent medical and psychological history, a discussion of possible comorbid conditions.
    • A complete psycho-educational or neuropsychological evaluation – actual test scores must be provided; standard scores are preferred. It is not acceptable to administer only one test or to base the diagnosis on only one of several subtests. The assessment instruments used must be reliable, valid, and standardized for diagnosing LD in an adult population. The following areas are generally assessed:
    • Aptitude – intellectual assessments
    • Achievement – current levels of academic functioning in relevant areas such as reading, mathematics, oral and written language
    • Information Processing – specific areas of information processing (e.g. short and long term memory, sequential memory, auditory and visual perception/processing, processing speed, executive functioning, motor ability).
  2. DSM-V or ICD Diagnosis (text and code) and information concerning comorbidity.
    There must be clear and specific evidence of a learning disability.
  3. Functional Limitations: The testing report should clearly detail how the individual’s disabling condition affects a major life activity and the resultant functional limitations in the academic setting.  This may include information on the severity and pervasiveness of the disorder.Functional limitations should be determined WITHOUT consideration of mitigating measures (i.e. medication, etc.).  If condition is episodic in nature, level of functioning should be assessed based on active phase of symptoms.
  4. Accommodations: The documentation should include a history of current and past accommodations and degree of usefulness. Recommendations for future accommodations and services should be included. However, the determination of whether an accommodation is reasonable and appropriate within the University setting will be made by the ARC.

The diagnostic report must be on letterhead, typed, dated, and signed. The name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator, including information about license or certification as well as area of specialization, employment, and state in which the individual practices must be clearly stated. Use of diagnostic terminology indicating a specific disability by someone whose training and experience are not in these fields is not acceptable. Evaluators should not be related to the individual being assessed. Diagnoses written on prescription pads and/or parent’s notes indicating a disability are NOT considered appropriate documentation.

General Guidelines for all Disabilities
It is understood that accommodation needs can change over time and are not always identified during the initial diagnostic process. A prior history of accommodation, without demonstration of current need, does not in and of itself warrant provision of accommodations. ARC will make the final determination on eligibility for services based upon the documentation and an interview with the student.

Documentation submitted to ARC is considered confidential and maintained separately from the student’s educational record. 

Upload documentation when completing the online application or via ARConnect

Documentation should be sent to the following address:

Accessibility Resource Center
University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
P.O. Box 413 Milwaukee, WI. 53201

Fax to: (414) 229-2237
Email to: archelp@uwm.edu

July 2019