Learning Disability Accommodations
Specific Learning Disorder is a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or using language, spoken or written, that may manifest in an impaired ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations. The Student Disability Services (SDS) staff is available to provide guidance about documentation requirements for students registering with SDS or seeking an evaluation. We encourage you to consult with SDS as early as possible regarding any questions you may have about the documentation requirements and guidelines.
Learning Disability Documentation Standards
Learning disability documentation should:
- Be current: Learning disabilities can affect an individual over their lifespan, but the determination of eligibility for disability services is based on the current impact on academic performance. Evaluations should include adult-normed standardized testing, generally having been conducted after the age of 16.
- Be conducted by a qualified evaluator: A qualified evaluator is an educational, clinical, or neuropsychologist or other relevant professionals with training and expertise in learning disability assessment. Reports must be dated, signed, and include credentials and licensing information of the evaluator.
- Include a comprehensive history of presenting problems: which describes the impact the disability has had to date on the individual’s learning and other major life activities. A description of any record of prior use of educational support, accommodations, auxiliary aids, and their efficacy is expected.
- Include a complete assessment of learning: in the relevant areas listed below, using the most recent edition of each standardized assessment instrument and a comparison to the relevant adult norm-referenced group. Include an appendix with all scores obtained during the course of the evaluation, including scaled and percentile scores.
- Aptitude/general cognitive ability
- Achievement, with detailed assessment of the relevant area of impact
- Cognitive and information processing, including processing speed and cognitive fluency
- Attention and executive functioning
- Sensory-perceptual functioning
- Motor functioning
- Psychiatric, personality, and behavioral assessments based on the student’s presentation and history
- Include a diagnosis statement using the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).
- Include a clinical summary with the following:
- A demonstration that the evaluator has ruled out alternative explanations for academic problems (as a result of poor education, poor motivation and/or study skills, emotional problems, attentional problems,or cultural/language differences).
- A description of patterns in the student’s cognitive ability, achievement, and information processing that support the diagnosis of a learning disability.
- Observations of behavior during the evaluation that may have helped to form the diagnostic impression.
- Recommendations for reasonable accommodations, including a rationale for each, linked to specific test results, as discussed below.
The evaluator should describe the severity and impact of the learning disability on the individual, including the manner in which the condition is substantially life-limiting. The diagnostic report should include specific recommendations for accommodations that are appropriate at postsecondary level. A detailed explanation as to why each accommodation is recommended should be provided and must correlate with specific functional limitations determined through the diagnostic interview, observation, and/or testing.
SDS staff may seek clarification and additional information from the evaluator. SDS staff will make the final determination of eligibility for disability services and appropriate reasonable accommodations based on UChicago’s academic programs and services.
Individualized Education Plans (IEP) and Section 504 Plans provide supporting information that help establish a history of accommodation use but may not be sufficient documentation for eligibility or disability services.
Students are encouraged to submit recent plans and approval forms for national standardized exams (ACT, SAT, GRE, LSAT, GMAT, MCAT), and/or verification of approved accommodations at prior educational institutions. Please note that these documents alone only establish a historical use of accommodations but may not be sufficient documentation for eligibility or disability services. Additional documentation may be required.
Tutoring, coaching, and assistance with study strategies are highly recommended as strategies for success but they are not disability accommodations.
Students with outdated testing or who have documentation that does not meet UChicago guidelines are encouraged to consult with the SDS regarding seeking a re-evaluation.