Two students in lab coats working on a project.

Documentation is not always required to discuss eligibility, or receive accommodations at the University of Rhode Island. Consultation with a DAI case manager or intake specialist will help us determine what additional information is necessary to support a student’s request. The following information is intended to provide helpful guidance to our students and their providers.

Disability Documentation

Per the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (2008), a disability or chronic condition is defined as a permanent, longstanding, significant condition that substantially or significantly limits one or more of life’s major functions. This includes, but is not limited to: seeing, hearing, eating, speaking, walking, breathing, learning, working, and concentrating.

To assess a student’s disability-related needs, and which accommodations will provide equal access, documentation can be a helpful component in determining what reasonable accommodations will support the student’s equal access. Students come to URI with a variety of experiences. Some are confident in their needs and self-aware, some have not had the opportunity to be involved in discussions around their diagnosis or needs, while others may have suspected a disability, but experienced barriers to evaluation or school-based support. Disabilities and chronic conditions can also occur at any time. A new diagnosis may mean that the student is in the process of developing an understanding of their disability in the context of college accommodations. Primary documentation via a student statement or the Online Intake Form is the most valuable information when considering reasonable accommodations. For the purpose of accuracy, provider documentation should be less than three years old, and/or must include adult-age testing. Typically, a student will not be asked for a re-evaluation during matriculation, however, updated documentation may be required if aspects of the student’s diagnosis are variable (i.e. some psychiatric disabilities, some health conditions), or if certain housing, transportation, or parking accommodations are requested. We encourage you to share this page with your provider when a request is made.

The final determination of admissible and complete documentation rests with the institution. Students who have experienced economic, cultural, social, or any other barriers to receiving a diagnosis, or participating in an evaluation should contact DAI to learn about resources here on campus, and discuss the barriers to access they’ve experienced. A lack of documentation or diagnosis should not deter a student from contacting DAI.

Student Statement as Primary Documentation: We support and honor the individual experiences of all students who work with DAI. Students are encouraged, but not required to write a statement describing the impact of their condition, functional needs, or provide other, relevant information that may be absent from their documentation. Please note that the student statement is not intended as a means to prove or legitimize a diagnosis. We believe you. Many of our students feel it provides a respectful and meaningful opportunity to ensure that their own voice is represented in the eligibility process. The student statement is included along with the overall documentation of disability in determining reasonable accommodations.

Secondary Documentation: A credentialed provider, specialist, or examiner is an individual with expertise in the diagnosed condition, who is qualified to provide detailed, supporting information about a current disability or chronic condition. They are expected to provide explanations and recommendations of medically necessary accommodations that will support the otherwise qualified student’s equal access. Their contributions, when possible, should be connected to evaluative measures/assessments/observation.

Documentation Guidelines

The University of Rhode Island’s documentation guidelines follow best practices, defining essential elements as follows:

  1. Documentation must come from a licensed or credentialed provider or evaluator, whose certification or expertise is specific to the disability or diagnosed condition (see the table below).
  2. Documentation must include:
    1. A clear diagnostic statement, including diagnostic sub-types where relevant.
    2. A description of the condition and detailed information on the functional impact it causes. A full clinical description will convey this information, as will diagnostic codes from the DSM (Diagnostic Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association) or the ICF (International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health of the World Health Organization).
    3. A description of the student’s current functional needs. Quality documentation will demonstrate how a major life activity is significantly, amply, or substantially limited by indicating evidence of frequency and pervasiveness in the environment. This information helps to determine what reasonable accommodations are necessary and appropriate.
    4. A description of the progression or stability of the disability over time and in context.
    5. Recommendations for college appropriate accommodations, assistive devices, assistive services, compensatory strategies, and/or collateral support services. Students and providers are strongly encouraged to read URI’s Academic Requirements, and those of your specific program of study. Accommodations cannot alter or exempt students from these policies or requirements.
Disability Practitioners Types of Documentation
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Neuropsychologist, Clinical Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Neurologist, Neurodevelopmental Physician Neuropsychological evaluation, Triennial evaluation, IEP, 504
Chronic Illness/Health Gastroenterologist, Rheumatologist, Endocrinologist, Internal Medicine, or other physician knowledgeable to condition Evaluation and/or a detailed letter from the specialist.
Developmental Disability (such as Autism Spectrum Disorder) Neuropsychologist, Psychiatrist, Clinical Psychologist, Neurodevelopmental Physician Neuropsychological evaluation, Triennial evaluation, IEP, 504
Head Injury/TBI Neurologist, Neuropsychologist Neuropsychological evaluation, detailed letter from a specialist
Hearing Audiologist (CCC-A), Otolaryngologist Audiology evaluation, a detailed letter from a specialist including assistive technology recommendations. 
Learning Disabilities School Psychologist, Clinical Psychologist, Neuropsychologist,

Neurodevelopmental Physician

Neuropsychological evaluation, Triennial evaluation, IEP, 504
Mental Health or Psychiatric Psychiatrist, Clinical Psychologist, Social Worker (LICSW), Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Psychological evaluation, or a detailed letter from the provider.
Mobility/Physical Physical Therapist, Orthopedic Surgeon, other physician knowledgeable to condition A detailed letter from the provider.
Speech and Communication Conditions Speech Language Clinician A recent SLP evaluation, a detailed letter from the provider.
Vision Optometrist, Ophthalmologist A detailed letter from the provider.
* A Pediatrician, Primary Care Physician/Nurse Practitioner/Physician Assistant may not be considered an appropriate provider of documentation for many conditions.


Inadmissible Documentation:

The following items are inadmissible as documentation of a disability

  • medication prescription
  • medical excuse or patient aftercare notes
  • evaluations from elementary or middle school
  • documentation written by a family member
  • unsigned documentation
  • photographs and x-rays of a physical condition
  • incomplete DAI forms
  • documentation without the provider’s contact information
  • letters or forms that do not include a disability or formal diagnosis
  • documentation from online services that provide letters for Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)

Temporary Conditions:

Most temporary conditions are NOT protected under the ADAAA. Depending on the nature of the temporary condition and the availability of resources, some environmental supports may be available. If you are diagnosed with a concussion, please follow Ch. 8 in the University Manual for temporary accommodations. We also ask that you report your concussion to Health Services if you were diagnosed elsewhere. Please contact DAI for more information about your temporary accommodation needs.