Documentation Criteria for Accommodations

Students requesting reasonable accommodations need to meet with an Access Specialist to discuss past accommodations and any disability-related barriers they anticipate or are experiencing in their academics at St. Olaf. Documentation verifying a disability may be necessary for establishing accommodations. In keeping with the Association for Higher Education and Disabilities (AHEAD) Guidance, the following sources of documentation are collected and evaluated in determining reasonable accommodations:

Primary Documentation: Student’s Self-Assessment

The student is a vital source of information regarding any “substantial limits of major life functions” the disability presents. A student’s narrative of experiences of disability, the barriers, and effective or ineffective accommodations is an important tool which, when structured by the intake interview, may be sufficient for establishing disability and a need for accommodation.

Secondary Documentation: Observation and Interaction

The impressions and conclusions formed by the Access Specialist during the intake interview is also an important form of documentation.

Tertiary documentation: Information From External Sources (Doctor, Psychologist, Therapist, School, etc.)

Complete, current information about the disability from an appropriate third party is often helpful and may be required depending on the disability and the situation. The Access Specialist will assist the student in determining what specific third party documentation is needed.

General guidelines for third party documentation:

  • A clear statement of the diagnosed disability including the DSM-V diagnosis if applicable
  • An educational, developmental, and medical history or a summary of presenting symptoms as it relates to the diagnosis
  • A list of all assessment instruments and relevant scores used to make the diagnosis
  • A description of the functional limitations resulting from the disability
  • A list of the recommended educational accommodations
  • A statement of why the disability qualifies the applicant for accommodations requested
  • Signature and diagnosis made by a qualified professional practicing in the area in which the disability is diagnosed and who is not related to the student
  • Current (General standards are 3 years for ADHD, 5 years for a learning disability, 1 year for a psychiatric disability.)

It is important to note that other colleges and universities may require more extensive external documentation of disability. Testing agencies, which administer standardized tests such as the GRE and LSAT, often have strict documentation guidelines.

Verification of Disability Form

Your provider may choose to use the Verification of Disability Form to deliver pertinent documentation. Because your medical records are protected by HIPAA, your provider will need you to sign a Consent to Release Information at their office before they can fill out this verification form.

For questions or more information please contact:

Laura Knobel-Piehl –


Joseph Young –

phone: 507-786-3288 (7-1-1 for MNLink Relay)
fax: 507-786-3923

Mailing address:
Disability and Access
St. Olaf College
1520 St. Olaf Avenue
Northfield,  MN  55057-1098