Disability Services takes appropriate steps to determine qualifying disability statuses under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended in 2008. With guidance from the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD), Disability Services accepts and considers information from three primary sources while screening applications:
- Consumer's self-report: We recognize that people with disabilities are experts of their own experiences and important sources of information. Accordingly, we welcome self-disclosures and personal histories as critical elements of the application screening process.
- Observation and interaction: In some cases, disability is apparent either in terms of presentation or effect, and Disability Services professional staff are experienced experts, able to make appropriate and reasonable judgments that contribute toward the determination of qualifying disability statuses.
- Information from external or third parties: In many cases, it will be necessary to consider diagnostic documentation prepared by qualified medical/psychological professionals. The preferred type of documentation will depend upon the type of impairment (for instance, a current psycho-educational or neuropsychological evaluation for the diagnosis of a specific learning disability).
Informed per above, our task is to determine if the ADA qualifying standard has been satisfied. Specifically, is there sufficient evidence that the applicant has a "mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities". Our process reflects a non-burdensome process that collects the level of documentation/information necessary to establish disability status. However, it should be noted that the quality and strength of the documentation received will determine the level and types of accommodations supported by University policies.
Prospective students and applicants are encouraged to contact Disability Services with questions or concerns about the intake process and corresponding documentation standards. Furthermore, students with critical or time-sensitive need for accommodations are strongly advised to contact Disability Services well in advance of the need for services to ensure adequate time to coordinate the required accommodations, programs, and supports.
Documentation can be sent to the office via scanned email to firstname.lastname@example.org, sent by fax to 413-577-0122 or mailed to the attention of Ben Ostiguy, Disability Services, 161 Whitmore Administration Building, 181 Presidents Drive, Amherst, MA 01003-9313.