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Policy on Blindness and Vision-Related Disability Documentation

Visual disabilities include, but are not limited to: blindness, low level vision, ocular motility dysfunction/eye movement disorders, convergence dysfunction/inefficiency in using both eyes together, strabismus/misalignment of the eyes, amblyopia/lazy eye, accommodative disorders/focusing problems, visual sensory disorders, and motor integration.

1)   The evaluation must be done by a qualified professional.  Ophthalmologists are the primary professionals involved in diagnosis and medical treatment of individuals who are blind or experience low vision.  Optometrists provide information regarding the measurement of visual acuity as well as tracking and fusion difficulties. 

A.  This documentation can be prepared only by a person who is not a family member of the student and who is qualified by professional training and practice to diagnose, treat, and recommend accommodations for the visual disability.

B.   The evaluator must include credentials, licensure/certification information, address and phone number. 

C.  The evaluation must be typed on professional letterhead, signed, and dated.  Handwritten notes on prescription pads or handwritten treatment records will not be accepted. 

2)   Evaluation documentation must be current so as to address the current level of functioning and need for accommodations.  An updated evaluation may be required if observed changes may have occurred in the student’s performance or new treatments have been prescribed or discontinued.  The update should then include an assessment of functioning and accommodations, and be related to the previous diagnostic report.  Individualized Educational Plans (IEP) and Section 504 plans are valuable sources of information but are not sufficient for documentation of a disability and establishment of accommodations.

3)    Recommended documentation includes: 

A. A clear diagnostic statement of vision-related disability with supporting numerical description (if applicable) that corresponds with the current impact the blindness or visual impairment has upon the student's functioning.  The age of acceptable documentation is dependent upon the status of the visual condition (static or changing), the current functional status of the student and the student's request for accommodations. 

B. A summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis and a summary of evaluation results, including standardized scores or ratings, if applicable.

C. Descriptive information specifying the functional impacts or limitations of the vision-related disability upon learning or other major life activity and the degree to which it impacts the individual in the learning environment for which accommodations are being requested. 

D. Medical information relating to the student's needs, including the functional impact of assistive devices (e.g. corrective lenses) or treatments upon the student's ability to meet the demands of the postsecondary academic environment.  Also needed is information pertaining to the expected progression or stability of the disability’s impact. 

E. Suggestions of reasonable accommodations that might be appropriate at the postsecondary level are encouraged.  These recommendations should be directly related to the functional limitations of the vision-related disability, as supported by the documentation, and what the student needs to best function in an academic environment.

4)   The Office of Accessibility and Disability Services will make the final determination of eligibility for accommodations and reserves the right to deny services or reasonable accommodations while the receipt of appropriate documentation is pending.  Students must complete the application process, submit disability documentation and bring a current detailed schedule before they can receive accommodations and services.  All documentation is confidential and on file only at the Office of Accessibility and Disability Services.