University Responsibility

The Office of Student Disability Services is charged with the responsibility of determining eligibility for services. Our staff works with faculty and students to find the right accommodations for you. Let us know if your accommodations are not adequate. We will work with you and your instructors to provide reasonable accommodations.

Your professors are likely to be most immediately aware of your needs for attending and meeting the requirements of their class. They want you to be successful in your college experience, so let them know if you experience difficulties. This is true whether you are temporarily disabled or have documented physical, learning or psychological disabilities.

We will work with you and your professor to make accommodations that are as simple, effective and reasonable as possible, Guidelines for exam accommodations have been given to all faculty members. The Test Assistance Form provided by this office is to be used when an accommodation is needed for an exam.

Student Responsibility

As a student with a disability, you are responsible for:

  • Identifying yourself as a person having a disability
  • Registering with the SDS office
  • Submitting documentation supporting the existence of your disability and the ways in which the disability limits your participation in courses, programs, services, activities or facilities
  • Obtaining the SDS manual and following SDS procedures to receive your accommodations in a timely fashion.

Documentation of a Disability

Documentation for a disability must be current, complete, and provided by a qualified professional. All documentation must be on letterhead, typed, dated, and signed by the qualified professional. Documentation varies depending on the specific disability and each student’s documentation is individually reviewed.

Minimally, the documentation must establish the current functional limitations resulting from the disability. The documentation must provide enough information about the history, scope, and depth of the disability for the University to determine the presence of a disabling condition which significantly impairs a major life function and imposes limitation on some activity associated with the academic process. A school plan such as an Individualized Educational Plan or a 504 Plan is insufficient documentation in and of itself to determine eligibility. These school plans may be included as a part of a more comprehensive evaluative report and are often helpful in describing students’ strengths as well as possible deficits. A formal diagnosis is expected.

All documentation is reviewed by the professional staff of SDS. In some cases, students are requested to provide more documentation than originally submitted.

Documentation Specifically for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Learning Disabilities (LD).

Guidelines for Documenting Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Students seeking support services from Students with Disabilities Services (SDS) on the basis of a previously diagnosed Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) must submit documentation that verifies their eligibility under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act. The documentation must describe a disabling condition, which is defined by the presence of substantial limitations in one or more major life activities. Merely submitting evidence of a diagnosis, and/or a discrepancy between ability and achievement on the basis of a single subtest score is not sufficient to warrant academic accommodations. Similarly, nonspecific diagnoses, such as individual “learning styles,” “learning differences,” “academic problems,” “attention problems,” and “test difficulty/anxiety” in and of themselves do not constitute a disability. The guidelines below are intended to provide guidance for the assessment process, including the areas that must be assessed in order for SDS staff to make appropriate decisions. Examples of specific tests that may be used within each area are available upon request. A verification form is also available to provide guidance in the assessment process. Please do not hesitate to contact SDS at (727) 873-4990 if you have any questions.

While it is recognized that psychological testing alone does not justify an AD/HD diagnosis, such testing is considered an important part of establishing the impact of the disorder on learning and determining appropriate accommodations. It is also essential in determining the presence or absence of other conditions that frequently co-occur with the disorder, which may be of relevance in the classroom. Comprehensive psychoeducational or neuropsychological evaluations may be required to support specific accommodation requests. Evaluators should not be related to the individual being assessed.

At a minimum, all documentation in support of an AD/HD should include the following information:

1. DSM-IV or ICD Diagnosis (text and code) and information concerning co-morbidity

In order to establish a history of the condition and recency of evaluation.

a. Date of diagnosis.

b. Date of last contact. The assessment must be current. Accommodations are based on an assessment of the current nature and impact of the disability. Evaluations must have been completed within the last three (3) years prior to accommodation requests. In addition, depending on the nature of the disability, evaluations may need to be updated on a semester-by-semester or yearly basis.

  • Evaluation: A list of questionnaires, interviews, and observations used to identify the AD/HD. A summary should include information regarding the onset, longevity, and severity of the symptoms as well as treatment history including medication.
  • Functional Limitations: Information concerning the impact of the AD/HD on major life activities as well as the functional limitations in the educational setting. Again, factors to consider include the severity, frequency, and pervasiveness of symptoms.
  • Accommodations: History of accommodations. (Optional) Suggested recommendations, modifications and/or accommodations.

General Guidelines for all Disabilities

It is important to recognize that accommodation needs can change over time and are not always identified during the initial diagnostic process. A prior history of accommodation, without demonstration of current need, does not in and of itself warrant provision of a like accommodation.

SDS will make the final determination as to whether appropriate and reasonable accommodations are warranted and can be provided to the individual.

In addition to documentation as described above, transfer students should provide written verification of accommodations received (and dates served) from the previously attended school(s).

The diagnostic report must include the name and title, and license number of the evaluator. A verification form is available to assist in the documentation process.

Guidelines for Documenting Learning Disabilities

Students seeking support services from Students with Disabilities Services (SDS) ) on the basis of a previously diagnosed learning disorder (LD) must submit documentation that verifies their eligibility under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act. The documentation must describe a disabling condition, which is defined by the presence of significant limitations in one or more major life activities. Merely submitting evidence of a diagnosis, and/or a discrepancy between ability and achievement on the basis of a single subtest score is not sufficient to warrant academic accommodations. Similarly, nonspecific diagnoses, such as individual “learning styles,” “learning differences,” “academic problems,” and “test difficulty/anxiety” in and of themselves do not constitute a disability. The guidelines below are intended to provide guidance for the assessment process, including the areas that must be assessed in order for SDS staff to make appropriate decisions. Examples of specific tests that may be used within each area are available upon request. Please do not hesitate to contact SDS at (727) 873-4990 if you have any questions.

Students submitting documentation of a learning disorder must provide a copy of the comprehensive psychoeducational report in order for the student to be eligible for accommodations and/or modifications.

Such documentation should include:

  • Clear and specific evidence of a learning disability, including the exact DSM-IV diagnosis when appropriate.
  • Testing must be comprehensive. Objective evidence of a substantial limitation in cognition and learning must be provided. Minimally, the domains to be addressed must include, but are not limited to:

a. Diagnostic interview – include relevant background information in support of the diagnosis. This may include a self-report of limitations and difficulties, a history of the presenting problem(s), a developmental history, academic history, including summaries of previous evaluation results and reports of classroom behavior and performance, a history of the family’s learning difficulties and primary language spoken in the home, any pertinent medical and psychological history, a discussion of possible comorbid conditions.

b. Complete psychoeducational or neuropsychological evaluation – actual test scores must be provided; standard scores are preferred. It is not acceptable to administer only one test or to base the diagnosis on only one of several subtests. Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) in and of themselves, are not sufficient documentation. The assessment instruments used must be reliable, valid, and standardized for diagnosing LD in an adult population. The following areas are generally assessed:

  • Aptitude – intellectual assessments
  • Achievement – current levels of academic functioning in relevant areas such as reading, mathematics, oral and written language
  • Information Processing – specific areas of information processing (e.g. short and long term memory, sequential memory, auditory and visual perception/processing, processing speed, executive functioning, motor ability).
  • The testing report should clearly detail how the individual’s disabling condition affects a major life activity and the resultant functional limitations in the academic setting. This may include information on the severity and pervasiveness of the disorder. The evaluator should also specify how the test results relate to the individual’s functioning.
  • The documentation should include a history of current and past accommodations and whether or not they were useful. Recommendations for future accommodations and services are helpful and should be included. However, the determination of whether an accommodation is reasonable and appropriate within the University environment rests with Services for Students with Disabilities.
  • Testing should be current. Accommodations are based on the current nature and impact of the disability. In general, this means that testing must have been conducted within the last three years prior to your request for accommodations.
  • All reports should be on letterhead, typed, dated, and signed, and otherwise legible. The name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator, including information about license or certification as well as area of specialization, employment, and state in which the individual practices must be clearly stated. Use of diagnostic terminology indicating a specific disability by someone whose training and experience are not in these fields is not acceptable. Evaluators should not be related to the individual being assessed. Diagnoses written on prescription pads and/or parent’s notes indicating a disability are NOT considered appropriate documentation.

General Guidelines for all Disabilities

It is important to recognize that accommodation needs can change over time and are not always identified during the initial diagnostic process. A prior history of accommodation, without demonstration of current need, does not in and of itself warrant provision of a like accommodation. SDS will make the final determination as to whether appropriate and reasonable accommodations are warranted and can be provided to the individual. In addition to documentation as described above, transfer students should provide written verification of accommodations received (and dates served) from the previously attended school(s).

All documentation submitted to SDS is considered confidential.

Documentation should be sent to the following address: University of South Florida St. Petersburg, Student Disabilities Services, 2nd Street South and 6th Avenue, SLC 1203, St. Petersburg, FL 33701-5016.

Documentation may be faxed to (727) 873-4828