Documenting a Disability

Providing documentation of your disability

Prior to establishing accommodations, we will need the medical professional who is treating you to submit documentation regarding your disability.

Documentation provides vital information about the functional limitations of your disability and its impact in a post-secondary academic environment. The intent of DSS is not to exclude students from receiving services, but to ensure that those with qualifying disabilities receive appropriate accommodations.

Please be aware that getting a clinical diagnosis of a condition is not synonymous with disability—evidence used to make a clinical diagnosis may not be sufficient to determine if you are substantially limited in a major life activity.

Documentation criteria

Your documentation must:

  • Be prepared by a professional (unrelated to you) who is licensed to practice within a field directly related to and associated with your condition
  • Be printed on either official letterhead or the appropriate DSS form and include the provider’s printed name, signature, and contact information
  • Include a clear statement of diagnosis identifying the disability and describing how it was diagnosed
  • Reflect the present-day status of your functional limitations and have been (typically) completed within the last five years. Conditions subject to episodes of progression or improvement may require updated documentation every six to twelve months. For sensory and/or mobility conditions unlikely to change significantly over time, documentation that is more than five years old may be acceptable if it adequately establishes the presence of significant limitations. For conditions in which diagnosis is dependent on results obtained from standardized testing, the adult versions of all instruments must be used.
  • Contain information that supports your request for specific academic supports, auxiliary aids, and reasonable accommodations
  • Contain a clearly defined logic relating provider-recommended accommodations/strategies to specific functional limitations

Individualized Education Programs (IEP) or 504 Plans may assist in determination of services, but their sole submission may not meet Indiana University's DSS documentation requirement.

There may be additional criteria for specific disabilities as outlined in the DSS documentation forms.

To ensure equal access to students registered with DSS, our office maintains the right to discern if provided documentation demonstrates the need for reasonable accommodations in the post-secondary environment.

What does not count as documentation?

DSS does not accept:

  • Handwritten letters from licensed professionals
  • Handwritten patient records or notes from patient charts
  • Documentation provided by a family member
  • Diagnoses written on prescription pads
  • Self-evaluations
  • Research articles

Documentation costs

You are responsible for the cost of obtaining the documentation. This includes any cost for getting additional information if the initial documentation doesn’t determine the extent of your disability or support the need for your requested accommodations. If you have financial needs that prohibit you from obtaining documentation, please notify DSS.