Eligibility Requirements for Psychiatric Disabilities

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

Students who are seeking support services from post-secondary institutions in the state of Washington on the basis of a psychiatric disability may be required to submit documentation to verify eligibility. Documentation of disability and related information will be kept in a separate file in the appropriate office as designated by each institution. The cost and responsibility for providing this documentation shall be borne by the student.

For the purpose of this policy, a psychological/psychiatric disability is defined as an impairment of cognitive, educational and/or social functioning caused by a disorder as described in the American Psychiatric Diagnostic Statistical Manual, 4th edition (DSM IV) or successive editions.

Documentation should show current impact of the disability. The following guidelines are provided in the interest of assuring that the evaluation and report are appropriate for documenting eligibility and identifying reasonable accommodations. The report must be prepared by a qualified mental health professional.

Documentation should:

  1. specify the nature, severity, current impact of the disability, and anticipate duration;
  2. state the diagnosis in the nomenclature used by the DSM IV or successive editions;
  3. address the student's current ability to function in the college environment (e.g. ability to focus, organize one's time, attend class, work in groups or alone, etc.);
  4. include medication and the current side effects that may impact the student in an educational setting.

Suggestions of reasonable accommodations with supporting evidence may be included. The final determination for providing appropriate and reasonable accommodations rests with the postsecondary institution.