First and foremost, the ADA has mandated the process of getting accommodations cannot be ‘burdensome’ on the individual. In general, documentation is needed that expressly outlines the diagnosis of a disability or disabilities; the testing that was used to determine the diagnosis, and the recommendations from the licensed or certified practitioner.
It is most helpful if the documentation is fairly recent (within the last three to five years), but older documentation is acceptable at times. For psychological, learning and cognitive disabilities, recent documentation will better help the Office of Student Support Services plan the appropriate accommodations.
The short answer is, ‘it depends.’ It depends on how thorough the original documentation was. 504 Plans often contain all of the necessary information, but Individualized Educational Plans (IEPS) commonly do not contain information on the actual diagnosis of the student. In cases where something is missing, the IEP combined with a letter from a licensed practitioner or an official Past Medical History (PMH) will meet the requirements.
No. Each semester you will be given two accommodation letters for each professor that you have. The letter simply lists the accommodations you may need to be successful in their class. Nowhere does it list the actual disability. That being said, please consider whether or not disclosing your disability to your professor may help to build a better, more supportive communication between professor and student.
No. Many students make the decision to ‘give it a go’ and not use their accommodations in college. Honestly though? This is almost always a bad idea. I strongly encourage students to at least go ahead and get the accommodation in place. It is up to the student whether or not they turn it in to the professor…but accommodations are not retroactive. By having the accommodation letters ready to go, if a student does decide to use them, there is no delay.
You can also turn in the accommodation letters to your professor and make a case-by-case basis of when you will use them (i.e., ‘I don’t need extra time on this five question quiz, but I’m going to use it for my midterm.’) Simply the act of turning in your accommodation letter will give the professor a ‘heads up’ that you have a challenge you are dealing with. It helps to open a channel of communication, should it be needed.
Last but not least, there is nothing more frustrating for me (Holli, the Director of Student Support Services), then to find out at the end of the semester that, had only the student gotten/used the accommodations, their academic outcome would have been different.
Accommodations are very common at SU, for a multitude of disabilities and challenges. Using them is not unusual, nor does it affect the professor’s perception of a student.