Disability Documentation Dilemmas: A View from the Trenches
In the U.S. and Canada, post-secondary disability documentation criteria have become less stringent. Although disability law in the U.S. states that a person is disabled if s/he has a functional limitation in comparison with most people, this is not always the standard applied. Rather, clinicians may recommend accommodations to help a student succeed, even if there is not a clear functional limitation. Using less stringent criteria has been reinforced by recent guidelines (e.g., AHEAD, 2012; U.S. Department of Justice, September 2015). This places pressure on clinicians and disability support personnel to accept that a person is disabled, based on an accommodation history, even if there is no recent evaluation of cognitive and academic skills. However, 1) brains mature, and people improve, and 2) intervention can lead to substantial skill improvement especially if started early. Without data, we will not know this. Moreover, recent research has shown that extended time may cause unfair advantage for individuals who do not have functional limitations.
This workshop will describe documentation dilemmas faced when individuals have a track record of accommodations but, based on test results alone, would no longer be considered disabled. The workshop will summarize legal definitions of disability and recent documentation guidelines. It will also include an overview of expected deficit areas, based on research about high-incidence disabilities, and a recommended evaluation approach. The author will present at least one detailed case example of an evaluation completed to update documentation for a postgraduate entrance examination, what was recommended, and the outcome.