Oklahoma State University

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Addendum: LD/ADD Standards

Addendum: Testing & Documentation Standards for Disability Service Providers in Higher Education

Learning Disability/Attention Deficit Disorder Standards

    Standards and practices regarding how people are diagnosing Learning Disabilities (LD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD-with and without hyperactivity) still vary widely. For service providers in higher education it is a concern nationally. In addition to identifying the presence of a disability, the documentation is utilized to establish a "substantial limitation" to learning (due to the disability) as stated in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and to aid in determining appropriate accommodations. Having a disability diagnosis does not necessarily entitle a person to, nor require, accommodations. The presence of a disability and the fact that it "substantially limits one or more major life activity (e.g. learning)" establishes such a need. These are the criteria used in providing services in postsecondary education.

    The recency (adult evaluation) and thoroughness of testing are essential in verifying the existence of a disability and the need for accommodations. Clearly defining documentation standards will help to assuage questions and concerns regarding the legitimacy of LD and ADD. Consistency in what evaluators are doing, as well as what postsecondary institutions are requiring, are necessary goals. A brief statement that "x" student has LD or ADD, or is under a pharmacological treatment for such, is insufficient. The following guidelines from the Association on Higher Education and Disabilities (AHEAD) note the standards to which postsecondary service providers are looking with respect to documentation, and are congruent with DSM-IV diagnostic procedures. A summary of the key points is listed below. It is my experience that information-sharing between disability service providers and disability evaluators/campus colleagues occurs far too infrequently. It is my hope that this letter will help to clarify the standards and expectations for disability documentation at OSU, and, mostly, to assist eligible students in accessing educational opportunities and acquiring the accommodations needed to be successful.