Documentation of Disability

Documentation of a disability is typically required for ongoing accommodations at Macalester; it serves as one piece of an interactive process that identifies the impact of disability and suggested accommodations.  Communication is the primary way to establish reasonable accommodations.

Information about a student’s disability should be from a qualified professional that is knowledgeable about your condition. This might be a 504 or IEP plan, a letter from a therapist, doctor, rehabilitation counselor, audiologist, nurse practitioner, or mobility specialist.  The intake, along with documentation, helps our office determine the scope of accommodation needs.

The guidelines on documentation are listed below:

1. Students are responsible for providing this information to Disability Services.  Although we determine accommodations, we are generally unable to obtain documentation on a student’s behalf.   We can assist in appropriate releases.

2.  Best practices for documentation has the following parameters: 

  • The credentials of the evaluator
  • Diagnosis, and a description of the current impact of the condition, particularly as it relates to academics, housing or food service.
  • Which major life activity (e.g., walking, seeing, hearing, breathing, self-care) does the condition substantially limit?
  • Treatments/medications/devices or resources currently prescribed and their potential impact on the condition.
  • Recommended accommodations (and in what ways would the requested accommodation(s) mitigate the impact of the condition?)
  • What are any equally effective alternatives if a student’s first request cannot be provided?

3. What if I don’t have documentation or have difficulty getting it? Please meet with Disability Services.  We can assist in professional referrals or provide appropriate next steps.  At times, Disability Services may provide accommodations for a limited time until more formal documentation can be obtained or other appropriate options are implemented. We evaluate each student request on a case by case basis.

4. Provide information early when possible. Accommodations are not required to be retroactively applied; therefore, posted grades on exams, papers, projects or in overall classes are not changed after the fact.  Connecting with our office late in the semester may limit accommodation options as well.

5. Documentation does not guarantee a requested accommodation. At times, care providers may not have the full scope of the collegiate environment.  An intake with our office, an interactive process between Disability Services, the student, faculty or other staff members is an essential part of determining accommodations.  Documentation and specific disability information will remain confidential, however, unless permission is granted.

(Please see our section on Reasonable Accommodations)

6. Disability Services reserves the right to ask for a release to speak with a care provider, request additional documentation or decline documentation if it is not complete or appropriate for the request.

7.  The documentation provided is specific to Macalester and may not be sufficient for other schools or high stakes testing (GRE, LSAT, etc).  Additional information may be required for these agencies.  Documentation for housing requests or Assistance Animals (ESAs) requires additional information and is subject to timelines.  

If you have a question regarding the required documentation or need information about a disability which is not listed, please contact the Director of Disability Services at 651-696-6874.

Helpful Specific Guidelines

Macalester Health and Wellness/Counseling have developed a list of care providers, counselors and other professionals that can assist with student care or referral to specialized care providers.  Just ask if you need more information!