Psychological Disability Accommodations

Psychological disabilities are chronic conditions that affect a person’s thinking, feeling, mood or behavior, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia.

Disability documentation is used to determine eligibility for disability services and reasonable accommodations to address the impact of your condition. Documentation must be provided from an appropriately certified professional who has completed an assessment of disability or is providing treatment to address your disabling condition.

Psychological documentation can be provided using the Mental Health Disability Assessment Form (Word, 144 KB) or as an evaluation report from an appropriate and licensed professional.

Psychological Disability Documentation Standards

Psychological disability documentation must include the following components:

1. Credentials of the evaluator: Disability documentation must be provided by a licensed or credentialed professional with relevant training and experience. Professionals conducting assessments and rendering diagnosis of psychiatric disorders must have training in differential diagnosis and the full range of psychiatric conditions.

  • The following professionals would generally be considered qualified to evaluate and diagnose psychiatric disorders (provided they have comprehensive training in differential diagnosis and direct experience with an adolescent and/or adult populations):
    • Licensed clinical psychologists
    • Licensed clinical social workers
    • Psychiatrists
    • Other relevantly trained medical doctors
  • The name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator should be clearly stated in the documentation.  Reports should be on letterhead, typed, dated, and signed. Disability documentation may not be provided by an individual who has a personal relationship with the student.

2. Current statement of diagnosis: Disability documentation must include a current diagnostic statement (DSM-5 or ICD 10), and should include the current overall level of severity of the condition, along with an assessment of all relevant symptoms. Accommodations are based on an assessment of the current nature and impact of a disability. Mental health conditions may change over time; therefore, current evaluations are critical for providing reasonable accommodations. In addition, depending on the nature of the student’s disability, evaluations may need to be updated when an approved accommodation expires in order to determine continued eligibility.

3. Comprehensive evaluation

  • Description of the diagnostic methodology: The documentation should include a description of the diagnostic criteria for the condition and the evaluation method used to render a diagnosis, including medical examinations, formal testing instruments, structured interviews, and observations. The dates of administration must be included, and all scores given as standard scores and percentiles, if applicable.
  • Relevant history: The documentation should include history regarding onset, symptoms, recurrences, hospitalizations, and treatment of the current or related condition(s).
  • Assessment of functional limitations: The documentation should provide a comprehensive description of the impact of the condition on the student in an academic environment, at home, and/or in social situations. This description must provide evidence that the student is substantially limited in one or more major life activities. Consider the severity of the impairment and its symptoms, frequency and expected duration of symptoms and impact on everyday activities in determining “substantially limiting.”
  • Treatment/medication and prognosis: The documentation should provide the current impact of medication and/or treatment and the anticipated prognosis, as well as the treatment plan. If relevant, provide information about the cyclical or episodic nature of the condition and/or potential triggers that may intensify symptoms.

4. Accommodation recommendations: It is helpful for the evaluator to recommend accommodations or services in a post-secondary academic setting that will address the functional impact of the condition or its treatment. Accommodation recommendations should be directly connected to the limitations resulting from the condition. If accommodations have been used in the past, include a description of the accommodations and information regarding their efficacy. Accommodations are provided to modify, adjust, or eliminate a barrier to a course or program to ensure equitable access.

Additional Information

  • SDS may request additional information if the submitted documentation is incomplete or does not support your accommodation request.
  • Individualized Education Plans (IEP) and Section 504 Plans provide supporting information that help establish a history of accommodation use but are insufficient documentation for eligibility or disability services. Please submit recent plans and approval forms for national standardized exams (ACT, SAT, GRE, LSAT, GMAT, MCAT).
  • SDS uses a third-party expert, as needed, with the review of supporting documentation.
  • If you do not have documentation, we encourage you to meet with an SDS staff member to discuss your situation and possible referrals for documentation.
  • The SDS staff (in consultation with appropriate faculty and staff) will make the final decision about eligibility and appropriate modifications based on the essential requirements of the academic program or service.
  • UChicago documentation requirements may differ from other educational institutions and may not be accepted by other institutions, testing agencies, licensure exams, and certification programs. When seeking accommodations from outside organizations, please check with the specific program to determine their documentation guidelines.

Process for Requesting Accommodations

To begin a review of your eligibility for accommodations, you will need to submit a request for accommodations using the AIM Student Portal.

Once you log in, you must complete the request form with information about your disability and the accommodations that you are requesting. You will also need to upload the following documentation to support your request:

  • Mental Health Disability Assessment Form (Word, 144 KB) (required)
  • Neuropsychological Assessment Report (preferred)
  • Copy of correspondence from the College Board/ACT/GRE, if accommodations were approved for standardized entrance exams (optional)
  • Copy of your accommodation records from a previous institution, such as a high school IEP or 504 Plan, or a University accommodation letter, if applicable (optional; this information is not required in order to determine your eligibility)

Next Steps

All documentation should be uploaded to your account in the AIM Student Portal. A director or associate director will also meet with you, either in person or over the phone, after which an eligibility review will be conducted in consultation with medical/clinical experts. SDS will consider the requested accommodation(s) within the context of the University’s academic program to determine whether or what may be reasonable in each case. If necessary, SDS will consult with the area Dean of Students and other pertinent faculty and staff to determine the essential requirements of a particular course.

SDS and the instructors are responsible for implementing accommodations in the College. In the graduate/professional programs, the area Dean of Students (or a designee) is responsible for their implementation.

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