Disability Documentation Guidelines
On this page, you will find the following information:
- General Information
- Appropriate for Academic Accommodations
- Certificate of Disability: ADHD and ASD
- Functional Assessment: vision, hearing, speech, mental health, medical conditions, mobility, recovery from injuries/surgery
- Psychoeducational Assessments: learning disabilities and ADHD
- Mild-Traumatic Brain Injury: Concussions
- Letter to Clarify Functional Abilities: when requested by SAS
- Support and Service Animals
- Remote or Independent Learning
- Other Forms of Documentation
- Unacceptable Documentation
To protect the integrity of a rigorous academic environment, we require documentation verifying the existence of a disability from a regulated health professional who is operating within their scope of practice to identify a physical, cognitive or emotional condition that is disabling in an academic context. This documentation must describe the functional limitations experienced by the student. Examples of professionals who can complete this documentation include:
- Physicians (medical doctors)
- Occupational Therapists
- Registered Psychotherapists
- Social Workers
- Nurse Practitioners
If you suspect you might have a disability and you are in the process of being assessed, please contact us to inquire about possible interim assistance.
Accommodations can be made for both permanent and temporary disabilities. If you experience a disability that is not described below, please contact us for more information.
Appropriate for Academic Accommodations
The following types of documents meet our standards and have been specifically designed to address issues that commonly arise in an academic setting. In many cases they provide useful information over the medium- and long-term.
Certificate of Disability: ADHD and ASD
The certificate of disability for neurodevelopmental disorders is specifically for students with ADHD and ASD who are unable to provide us with a current psychoeducational assessment.
Our Functional Assessment form is the most commonly used type of documentation, and it has been designed to cover a wide range of disabilities, such as:
- Long-term brain injuries such as post-concussion syndrome, strokes, aneurysms, and injuries caused by tumours, infections or lack of oxygen
- Hearing-related disabilities
- Medical conditions such as significant injuries, recovery from surgery, and chronic illnesses
- Mental health conditions, including those that are new or emerging, as well as chronic or long-standing
- Mobility or dexterity-related disabilities
- Vision-related disabilities, including blindness and low-vision
Note that a functional assessment rarely provides sufficient information to support a memory aid. If this is a consideration, please read the NOARC guidelines for when memory aids should be recommended.
For students who experience a learning disability, a psycho-educational assessment is required that describes details relating to the student's learning profile. In the case of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) an assessment by a psychologist is also considered best practice for determining academic accommodation. This gives us the most useful description of a student's abilities. Here are some useful resources:
- Learn about our ADHD Assessment Process
- Guidelines for Psycho-Educational Assessments
- When to update a psychoeducational assessment
Mild-Traumatic Brain Injury Assessment Form (Concussions)
Given that concussions frequently change in the short-term, the mild traumatic brain injury assessment form has been designed to be easily updated as needed. If you have long-term symptoms such as post-concussion syndrome, please use a functional assessment instead.
Letter to Clarify Functional Abilities
From time to time, Student Accessibility Services may ask for a letter from an appropriate regulated health professional to clarify the ways in which a student is affected by their disability/disabilities in an academic setting. The purpose of this request is for Student Accessibility Services to receive expert advice that can assist with the accommodation process. In most cases, SAS will pose specific questions where clarification may be helpful. Examples of where this may come up include (but is not limited to) clarifying:
- complex disability-related needs with a significant impact on the student's academic abilities,
- multiple disability-related documents already exist and a synthesis of the information based on a clinical assessment would be helpful, or
- documentation received by Student Accessibility Services to date does not conform to established standards.
Support and Service Animals
We have created the Service Animal Recommendation form to help ensure we get complete information regarding the need for a service animal. This puts SAS in the best position possible to advocate for a students' needs in a wide range of settings found on campus.
Remote or Independent Learning
Students who are unable to come to campus for an extended period of time and are seeking an accommodation for courses that are only offered in-person/on-campus are encouraged to speak with us BEFORE SEEKING documentation. These situations tend to have a fair amount of complexity and we want to ensure the documentation addresses the unique characteristics of the situation. If you are already registered with SAS, please speak with your advisor. If you have not yet been assigned an advisor, please contact our intake team at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also find it helpful to review this information about what to expect.
Other Forms of Documentation
If you do not have documentation that conforms to the guidelines above, you may have one of the following items, which we will consider on a case-by-case basis. While lacking some of the details we typically require, the following sources of information may provide a starting point for establishing a basic accommodation plan. In many cases, they will be considered appropriate on a temporary basis, ranging from a few weeks to a couple of semesters.
- OSAP Disability Verification Form
- Accommodation letter from another college or university
- Student Housing Services' accommodation request form
- Assessments for workers' compensation (e.g. WSIB) or income programs for long-term disability (e.g. ODSP)
- Case consultation with a regulated health professional who is working with the student on an assessment of their abilities (i.e. a conversation between them and an SAS staff member).
The criteria we use for evaluating the appropriateness and usefulness of this information include (but is not limited to):
- completeness of the information, including confirmation that a disability exists in keeping with the Ontario Human Rights Code,
- the complexity of the student's needs,
- the types of accommodations involved,
- the academic requirements the student is facing,
- policy and legislative requirements the student and SAS are likely to encounter, and
- requirements of funding programs needed to support the requested supports/accommodations.
Individual Education Plan (IEP)
Unfortunately, we are not able to accept an IEP as documentation of disability-related needs in an academic setting. There are many differences in the approaches to accommodations at the high school level as compared to post-secondary education. In some cases, an IEP may help with guiding the process of getting updated documentation.
In general, there are two types of medical notes we commonly see: a short note that is only one or two sentences, or a longer letter explaining a student's circumstances. In most situations, these are only useful for short-term temporary accommodations. Such items typically lack the necessary details about how the student is affected by their disability or have insufficient information about what to expect in the medium- to long-term.
Note that routine short-term illnesses are NOT CONSIDERED disabilities, though you may qualify for academic consideration as described in the policy section of your academic calendar.
At minimum, this type of documentation must include your name, the date it was issued, the general type of disability, and the contact information of the health professional who issued it.
The following are examples of the types of documentation that cannot be used for academic accommodation and we respectfully request students DO NOT send us any of these items:
- Results from blood tests, ultrasounds, EEG's, or other medical procedures
- Prescriptions or photographs of medication bottles
- Photographs of hospital bracelets
SAS reserves the right to verify the authenticity of all documentation we receive. Falsified documents will be considered academic misconduct, or non-academic misconduct, depending on the circumstances.
Important: Tests & Exams
If you use the SAS Exam Centre, please remember that all test and exam bookings must be submitted at least 10 BUSINESS DAYS ahead of when you intend to write.
In addition, the last day any bookings can be received is the first business day in November, March or July as appropriate for the semester.