The Spectrum of Disability Documentation Requirements at 12 Institutions: A Thematic Analysis

Emily Tarconish, Ashley Taconet, Nicholas Gelbar, Joseph Madaus, Lyman Dukes III, Michael Faggella-Luby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The two laws primarily governing disability services in postsecondary education, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, permit institutions of higher education to determine disability documentation requirements on an individual basis. Many institutions have utilized documentation guidelines delineating a range of domains to be addressed, and often, suggestions for specific tests to be included, as well as strict recency requirements. Following passage of the ADAAA in 2008, the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) published documentation guidance practices that reflected the updated ADAAA. The current qualitative study examined the perspectives of 12 directors of disability services (DDS) at postsecondary institutions in the United States regarding the disability documentation requirements at their respective schools and their perspectives on why the standards were adopted. Findings revealed a wide spectrum from flexibility to rigidity in requirements from those who employ traditional guidelines to those who apply selective degrees of the AHEAD guidance. Benefits and drawbacks of documentation and the AHEAD guidance are discussed, as well as suggestions for practitioners and institutions seeking to implement the AHEAD guidance.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalLearning Disabilities: A Multidisciplinary Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 24 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • disability documentation
  • higher education
  • postsecondary education
  • disability service


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