Students who are requesting services from Disability Support Services (DSS) at The Catholic University of America are required to submit documentation under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments (ADAAA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Individuals with disabilities are protected from discrimination and may be entitled to reasonable accommodations and the right to equal access to programs and services.
Disability Support Services acknowledges that once a person is diagnosed as having a disability the disability is normally viewed as life-long. While the disability will continue, the severity of the condition and/or how it is impacted in different settings may change over time. Therefore, the purpose of requesting documentation is:
- To consider each student individually and to understand if and how the student is impacted by their disability in a higher education living and learning environment in order to make an informed decision about the need for accommodations and services.
In order to determine if a specific accommodation(s) is reasonable and appropriate, the following factors will be considered:
- Registration Information (PDD Questionnaire, Special Education Teacher or Tutor form, parent form)
- Academic history
- Personal self-reported statement
- Observations and Interactions with DSS
- Previous accommodations received
- Accommodations being requested
- Unique characteristics of each course or program
- Any other documentation provided
Accommodation decisions cannot be made until, at a minimum, some written documentation is provided and an interview has been conducted by DSS staff.
Definition of a Disability
In order to receive accommodations, a student must have a mental or physical condition that substantially limits a major life activity. Types of disabilities we serve includes (but are not limited to): Blind or Low Vision, Chronic health Conditions, Cognitive Disabilities (ADD, LD), Deaf or Hard of Hearing, Physical Disabilities and Psychological Disabilities.
Documentation from External Sources
Appropriate disability accommodations are determined based on documentation which may include educational or medical records, reports and assessments from health care providers, school psychologists, teachers or the educational system.
A 504 Plan, Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Summary of Performance (SOP) can be submitted as documentation so long as the information provided indicates the impact of the condition and helps the DSS office identify a connection between the disability and the appropriate accommodation(s) being requested.
It is recommended that any written documentation include:
- History of the disability
- Description of the current impact as it relates to meeting the various demands of higher education (academically, socially, emotionally, physically, medically)
- Expected progression or stability
- Functional living skills (i.e. orientation and mobility and activities of daily living (ADL’s)
- Notation of any medical equipment that is required
- Notation of medications, if any, and potential impact on learning and/or side effects
- Implications of existing co-morbid conditions
- Additional observations and/or recommendations
- For all cognitive disabilities (Learning Disabilities, conditions or incidents impacting the brain, Attention Deficit Disorder, Asperger’s and other Pervasive Developmental Disorders):
- A comprehensive neuropsychological or psychoeducational evaluation that includes aptitude and achievement (preferably one with measures normed for an adult)
- Rating scales and objective measure of attention (for ADD)
- Standardized scales of symptoms related to Autism (Asperger’s and PDD)
For the following disabilities, DSS requests that a treating professional complete a form (available by clicking the appropriate link below) in addition to a written letter that addresses the bullet points above.
Because accommodation needs can potentially change over time and context, students should provide updated information on an annual basis in order to provide the most effective services and accommodations possible.
NOTE TO TRANSFER AND GRADUATE STUDENTS: In addition to the documentation you provide, you are also encouraged to send a letter from the Institution you previously attended that includes the timeframe in which you were provided services and the accommodations used.
Disability Support Services reserves the right to request additional documentation in order to support specific accommodations. If additional information is needed, DSS may determine that it is appropriate to provide temporary accommodations. Temporary accommodations will be determined based on the information that has been provided.
The aforementioned guidelines are provided so that Disability Support Services can respond appropriately to the individual needs of the student. Disability Support Services reserves the right to determine eligibility for services based on adherence to these guidelines and established DSS policies and procedures.
Please send all documentation to:
Disability Support Services
The Catholic University of America
620 Michigan Ave. NE, 201 Pryzbyla Center
Washington, DC 20064
Phone: 202-319-5211 Fax: 202-319-5126