Eligibility Requirements for Learning Disabilities

Information from the Washington Association on Postsecondary Education and Disability Documentation Position Paper on Learning Disabilities.

Students who are seeking support services from any post-secondary institution in the state of Washington on the basis of a diagnosed specific learning disability are required to submit documentation to verify eligibility. Documentation of disability and related information will remain confidential and will be kept in a separate file in the appropriate office as designated by each college/university. Documentation of a learning disability consists of the provision of professional testing and evaluation including a written report, which reflects the individual's present level of information processing as well as his/her achievement level. The cost and responsibility for providing this professional evaluation shall be borne by the student.

The following guidelines are provided in the interest of assuring that the evaluation and report are appropriate for documenting eligibility and identifying reasonable accommodations.

Documentation must:

  1. be prepared by a professional qualified to diagnose learning disabilities, which would include but not be limited to: a licensed neuro-psychologist or psychologist, learning disability specialist, or other appropriate professional certified to administer class "C" psychological tests. Experience in the evaluation of adults with learning disabilities is essential.
  2. be comprehensive. The use of a single test and/or instrument (such as Slingerland, and Scopotic Sensitivity Screening) is not acceptable for the purposes of diagnosis. Minimally, areas to be addressed must include but not be limited to:
  1. Aptitude. The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised (WAIS-R) with subtest scores is preferred. The Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery Revised: Tests of Cognitive Ability is acceptable. The Leiter International Performance Scale or the Comprehensive Test of Non-Verbal Intelligence (C-TONI) is accepted when cultural bias, or hearing loss is a concern.
  2. Achievement. Current levels of functioning in reading, mathematics and written language are required. Acceptable instruments include the Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery-Revised: Tests of Achievement Stanford Test of Academic Skills (TASK): or specific achievement tests such as the Test of Written Language-2 (TOWL-@), Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests-Revised, or the Stanford Diagnostic Mathematics Test. (The Wide Range Achievement Test Revised is NOT a comprehensive measure of achievement and therefore is not suitable.)
  3. Information Processing. Specific areas of information processing (e.g., short and long term memory; sequential memory; auditory and visual perception/processing; processing speed) must be assessed. Use of subtests from the WAIS-R or the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Ability is accepted. (This is not intended to be an exhaustive list or to restrict assessment in other pertinent and helpful areas such as a vocational interest and aptitudes.)
  1. be current. In most cases, this means within the past three years. Since assessment constitutes the basis for determining reasonable accommodations, it is in a student's best interest to provide recent and appropriate documentation to serve as the basis for decision-making about a student's needs for accommodations in an academically competitive environment.
  2. present clear and specific evidence, which identifies specific learning disabilities and reflects the individual's present level of functioning in processing and intelligence, as well as achievement. Individual "Learning Styles" and "learning differences" in and of themselves do not specify a learning disability.
  3. include in the report, the exact instruments used and procedures followed to assess the learning disabilities, test results (including subtests score data), a written interpretation of the results by the professional doing the evaluation, the name of the evaluator, and dates of testing. A list of academic accommodations which would benefit the student as the post-secondary level may also be included and helpful, but not necessary.
  4. provide sufficient data to support the particular academic adjustments requested. Requests which are not supported by documentation may not be approved without additional verification.

*Please note: these guidelines reflect only minimum requirements for documentation. It is recommended that applicants students and other interested parties contact individual colleges/universities for specific institutional policy information.