Documentation Guidelines

Disability documentation is confidential information from an appropriately certified professional who is knowledgeable about you and your condition. Such professionals include physicians, educational psychologists, therapists, mobility specialists, and rehabilitation counselors. Documentation is used to determine eligibility for disability services and accommodations.

Documentation must be submitted in English.

Documentation must include the following components:

  • Completed by a licensed or credentialed examiner (not a family member)
  • A description of the disability, including the diagnosis and history
  • A description of the current impact in daily living and in an educational setting
  • A description of the expected duration, frequency, severity, and progression of the condition
  • A description of the past use of disability services.

Examples of disability documentation include:

  • Educational, psychological, or medical records;
  • Reports and assessments created by healthcare providers, psychologists, or an educational system; 
  • Documents that reflect education and accommodation history, such as Audiology Reports and Vision Assessments;
  • SDS verification form of a disability (see below for specific guidelines and forms);
  • Statement from a health or other service professional;
  • Vocational Assessment

Please keep the following in mind:

  • Disability is defined by federal disability laws as an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities include, but are not limited to: sensory conditions, walking, learning, concentrating, communicating, and speaking (see: What is a Disability?).
  • Submit your Disability Self-Disclosure and Request for Access Accommodations Form and disability documentation to SDS early enough to allow sufficient time for a review of the information before accommodations and services are expected to be implemented.
  • We may need to ask you to provide additional information if the submitted documentation is incomplete or does not support your accommodation request.
  • If you do not have documentation, we encourage you to meet with an SDS Counselor to discuss your situation and possible referrals for documentation.
  • Professionals may suggest reasonable modifications but we make the final decision about eligibility and appropriate modifications based on the essential requirements of the academic program or service.
  • You should keep a copy of the documentation that you submit to SDS for your personal records. We shred paper files when the secure electronic file is created and we destroy documentation and disability files six years after a student leaves the university.
  • Cornell 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 organizations outside of Cornell, please check with the specific program to determine their documentation guidelines.

Documentation Guidelines by Disability

Each of the pages in this section provide more guidelines and, where appropriate, a form:

Getting an Assessment

We do not offer learning disability or ADHD assessments. If you would like information about an off-campus referral, please contact us at 607-254-4545 to schedule a meeting with an SDS counselor to discuss the type of assessment that you are seeking. We will provide information about local referrals.

If you are an incoming student who needs a re-evaluation, it is advisable to seek advice.