Facebook pixel Student Disability Documentation Guidelines | Pepperdine University Skip to main content
Pepperdine University

Guidelines for Documentation of a Disability

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act were enacted to provide a clear and comprehensive mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities. In compliance with these laws, the Office of Student Accessibility at Pepperdine University is dedicated to maintaining an environment that guarantees students with disabilities full access to its educational programs, activities, and facilities.

In order to receive support services and accommodations from the Office of Student Accessibility, students are required to submit documentation. This documentation will verify eligibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Pepperdine policies. The following information is provided to assist the student in ensuring that the documentation provided is complete and appropriate.

Documentation on file should:

  1. Be current (does not apply to physical or sensory disabilities of a permanent or unchanging nature)
    • Within the last six months for psychological disabilities
    • Within the last five years for learning disabilities
    • Within the last three years for all other disabilities 
  2. State clearly the diagnosed disability
  3. Describe the functional limitations, resulting from the disability
  4. Include complete educational, developmental, and medical history relevant to the disabilities for which accommodations are being requested
  5. Include a list of all test instruments used in the evaluation report and relevant sub-test scores used to document the stated disability (does not apply to physical or sensory disabilities of a permanent or unchanging nature)
  6. Describe the specific accommodations requested and detailed explanation of why each accommodation is recommended
  7. List relevant medications. Does medication substantially limit college-level academic pursuits? Does the individual experience any side effects from the medication in such a way as to negatively affect his/her ability to study or learn?
  8. Be in one or more of the following forms:
  9. Further notes:
    • Diagnostic report should be in English. If translated, the translation must be official.
    • Diagnostician must be an impartial individual who is not a family member.
    • Notes on a prescription pad are not accepted. Please see point 8.
    • Acceptable file formats for documentation include .pdf, .png, .jpg, or .jpeg. Other formats will need to be converted to a .pdf format before submission.

Additionally, students requesting academic accommodations should include evidence of any prior accommodations received. This includes accommodations in high school, other undergraduate or graduate institutions, or on the ACT/SAT/GMAT/LSAT/etc.

*See additional guidelines and recommended assessments for learning disabilities and ADD/ADHD below

 Guidelines and recommended assessments for learning disabilities

Qualifications of Diagnostician

Professionals diagnosing learning disabilities must have comprehensive training in differential diagnosis and direct experience with adolescents and adults with learning disabilities.

The following professionals are considered qualified:

  • Certified/licensed psychologists
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Learning disability specialists
  • Educational therapists

Diagnostic reports should include the names, titles, professional credentials, addresses, and phone numbers of the evaluators as well as the date(s) of testing.

  • Weschler Adult Intelligence Scale
  • Woodcock-Johnson WJ-III – Cognitive Battery – Standard and Supplemental


  • Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT)
  • Woodcock-Johnson WJ-III (Achievement Test) Standard and Supplemental if needed
  • Additional achievement tests:
    • Current levels of functioning in reading, mathematics, and written language are required
    • Specific diagnostic mathematics tests
    • Tests of Academic Skills (TASK)
    • Tests of Written Language -2 (TOWL-2)
    • Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests-Revised
    • Phonological and/or orthographical assessments for foreign language difficulties
  • Information Processing
    • Assessment of long- and short-term memory, auditory discrimination and perception, visual perception, spatial orientation and relations, fluid reasoning, and processing speed must be included in the testing
    • Use of subtests from the WAIS III or WJ III is acceptable

The Diagnostic Report


The report must include a clear statement of the learning disability and the reasoning for this particular diagnosis as supported by the current diagnostic battery. A student's individual "learning style," "learning deficit," "learning differences" and "learning disorders" do not, in and of themselves, constitute a disability.

Diagnostic Interview

A summary of the diagnostic interview must be included. Relevant information regarding the student's academic history and learning processes in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education should be addressed. The summary should also include developmental, medical, psychosocial, and family history as it relates to the student's current level of functioning.

Descriptive Text

The report should indicate:

  1. That the evaluator ruled out alternative explanations for the academic problems
  2. Patterns in the individual's cognitive abilities, achievement, and information processing reflect the presence of a learning disability
  3. The substantial limitation to a major life activity and the degree of its impact


Report must indicate recommended accommodations that are appropriate at the postsecondary level. Specific test results must support these recommendations.

 Guidelines and recommended assessments for attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD)

Qualifications of Diagnostician

Professionals diagnosing ADHD must have comprehensive training in differential diagnosis and direct experience with adolescents and adults with ADHD.
The following professionals are considered qualified:

  • Clinical psychologists
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Other qualified medical doctors

All diagnosticians must be impartial individuals who are not family members of the student.

Criteria for Comprehensive Assessment

Evidence of Current Impairment

Assessment should consist of more than just a self-report and it should include a history of attentional symptoms, including evidence of ongoing impulsive, hyperactive or inattentive behavior that has significantly impaired functioning over time. The report should also include developmental, medical, psychosocial, and family history as it relates to the current diagnosis of ADHD.

Diagnostic Battery

Neuropsychological or psychoeducational assessment is critical in determining the current impact of ADHD on the individual's ability to function in different settings. Assessment must include standardized measures for intellectual functioning and achievement, inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity as delineated in the DSM V.
Recommended assessments for ADD/ADHD:

  • Test score, sub-scores and normal measure of intra-individual patterns of intra-individual discrepancies, if any
  • TOVA
  • Conner's Continuous Performance Test
  • Attention Deficit Scale for Adults (ADSA)
Diagnostic Report and Summary

The diagnostic report must be a comprehensive interpretive summary synthesizing the evaluator's judgement for the diagnosis of ADHD. The report must include:

  • All quantitative information in standard scores/and or percentiles; all relevant developmental, medical, familial, medication, psychosocial, behavioral and academic information
  • A specific diagnosis of ADHD based on the DSM V diagnostic criteria, and the report must identify in clear, direct language the substantial limitation of a major life activity presented by the ADHD
  • Official letterhead with names, titles, professional credentials, addresses, and phone/fax number of the evaluator as well as the date(s) of testing