MIT: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Student Disabilities Services

For Students: Policies and Procedures – Guidelines for Assessment Criteria

The following guidelines for documenting disabilities are provided under the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”) and the Rehabilitation Act to assist both the student and his/her evaluator in providing appropriate documentation to the Disabilities Services. Documentation serves as the foundation that explains and legitimizes a student’s request for appropriate accommodations in the post secondary setting. The professional providing this information must possess: appropriate professional credentials, first hand knowledge of the student’s condition, and experience and training diagnosing and treating the particular condition in question. The evaluator must be an impartial professional provider who is not related to the student. The documentation should be mailed directly from the evaluator/medical provider to the MIT Disabilities Services at the mailing address listed on our home web page.

Documentation for all disabilities must include:

1. A clear statement of each condition, including specifying the diagnosis(es) using standard nomenclature, and characterizing ongoing treatment, prognosis, and a differential diagnosis, as appropriate.

2. Dates of the professional's first meeting and most recent meeting with student.

3. A detailed summary of evaluation procedures employed, and resulting diagnostic/testing data used to make the diagnosis, including the date on which the diagnosis was conferred and the date(s) of any tests, studies or ancillary evaluations that were utilized in making/confirming the diagnosis. NOTE: documentation for eligibility should be reasonably current and reflective of the student's recent level of functioning.

4. A statement attesting that the professional's diagnostic opinion is held to a reasonable degree of professional certainty.

5. Reference to medications and any side effects that may hinder/assist the student's ability to process information and otherwise function in an academic environment.

6. A description of any aids, prostheses, adaptations or strategies used by the student to compensate for his/her underlying condition.

7. A statement reflecting the student’s compliance with the evaluator's treatment plan, including compliance with medication management, if relevant.

8. The past and current functional impact or limitations of the condition on the student's capacity to function in an academic setting. This includes reference to underlying intellectual, cognitive, sensory, motor, emotional and/or interpersonal capabilities and how these impact the condition, the manner and/or the duration of the student's performance of major life activities. This aspect is critical to determining eligibility for accommodations since the mere presence of an underlying condition does not equate to a disability under the terms of the ADA or Rehabilitation Act.

9. Recommended accommodation(s). Each recommended accommodation should be specified in as great a detail as possible (e.g., "50% extended time on essay type, in-class examinations" versus "additional time") and should be necessary in order for the student to access his/her educational program, activities and services. Each recommended accommodation should be accompanied by an explanation of its relevance to the disability that has been diagnosed. Accommodations that are deemed to be unreasonable in a college-level setting will not be honored. (Although we value and require input from students and their evaluators, ultimately MIT Disabilities Services will make the determination as to whether a particular accommodation is necessary and reasonable under the circumstances.)

Specific Disabilities

All students who wish to receive academic adjustments need to provide all of the above information, as well as the additional information specific to their disability, as outlined below.

Psychiatric Disabilities

Documentation must include the DSM-IV-TR multi-axial diagnosis and a summary of present symptoms and the current treatment plan in a written report from a psychiatrist, licensed psychologist, certified social worker (CSW or ACSW) or licensed professional counselor. This report should include enough relevant historical information required to judge the severity and impact of the condition in question. Ideally, some objective data in support of diagnostic conclusions and recommended accommodations should be offered (e.g. results of standardized psychometric scales and instruments). Documentation may need to be updated each semester, depending on the individual student’s circumstances.

Disorders that Manifest Developmentally


Disabilities Services protects the confidentiality of student documentation records. However, in granting an accommodation, the Disabilities Services staff has the right to review pertinent information with individuals identified by the staff as necessary participants in the decision-making process and/or accommodation determination process (instructors, academic advisors, medical staff, student's health professionals, and appropriate experts in the field.) If a diagnostic report or evaluation fails to clearly establish the existence of a disability and/or identify or support the need for auxiliary aids and services, academic adjustments and/or accommodations, the Disabilities Services staff may seek clarification or input from qualified, outside professionals and experts.