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Division of Student Affairs

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Qualifying for Services

Procedures Necessary to Become Eligible for Services

  1. Please contact the DSS Office to learn what kind of diagnostic documentation you will need to submit in order to determine your eligibility for services, and what accommodations might be reasonably and appropriately provided given the effects of your disability.
  2. Submit your documentation to the DSS Office. It is preferable that you bring this documentation with you while meeting with the Disability Support Services Specialist. However, in some instances it may be more convenient to submit the documentation prior to meeting with the DSS Specialist. If hand-delivering a letter to the DSS Office from your doctor, please ensure that it is properly sealed in an envelope addressed to the Disability Support Services Specialist. If you are having it sent through the U.S. Postal Service, please use the following address:

    Disability Support Services
    Box # 358423
    University of Washington Tacoma
    1900 Commerce Street
    Tacoma, WA 98402-3100

  3. Make an appointment with the DSS Office to discuss your eligibility for services. We may ask that you provide supplemental or different documentation of the diagnosis and current effects of your disability if that which was submitted is not sufficient. Once eligibility for services is established, the DSS Specialist will work with you to plan the provision of reasonable and appropriate accommodations. You will also learn how the various accommodations are coordinated and provided.
  4. The Disability Support Services Specialist will then write a memorandum on your behalf that is addressed to UW Tacoma Faculty and Department Chairs. This memo serves to verify to your professors that your disability is diagnostically documented with DSS and outlines the approved academic accommodations you will be receiving.
  5. You are responsible for meeting with your professors, presenting them with your memo, and ensuring that they are aware of the approved accommodations you are requesting for each of their classes. Some courses may require accommodations not addressed in the memorandum. If this occurs, you can either come to a mutual arrangement with the professor about your accommodation(s), or return to DSS to further discuss your needs.
  6. The Disability Support Services Specialist will provide you with one copy of your memo for each class that you are taking during any given academic quarter (e.g., 2 classes/2 memos). Please be sure to contact us as soon as you have registered for classes so that your memo(s) can be given to you in a timely manner. When approved classroom accommodations are needed, you will benefit most if you arrange to meet privately with your professors as soon as possible before or shortly after the academic quarter begins. Introduce yourself, present each professor with a copy of your memo, and make certain that your professor is aware of the classroom accommodations you will be receiving.
  7. The student's accommodation memo is not set in stone. If your needs change, or if you would like to have something added or taken out regarding your disability or needed accommodations, please contact us to make adjustments.
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Documentation Required to Become Eligible for Service

The University of Washington (Tacoma, Seattle and Bothell) does have policies outlining the type of testing and diagnostic evaluation required in order to diagnose a Learning Disability, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, and psychological disabilities. An Individual Educational Plan (IEP) is not acceptable documentation for the diagnosis of a disability.

Inadequate Documentation

In all instances, if the diagnostic report is incomplete or inadequate to determine the present extent of the disability or appropriate accommodations, the University may require supplemental assessment of the disability at the student's cost. If the diagnostic report is complete, but the University requires a second opinion (which may include getting a second opinion regarding the diagnostic report or a re-evaluation of the disability) the University may select the treatment provider and shall bear the cost of the second assessment.

If you have questions regarding our documentation requirements, please call the DSS Office. Below you will find further information detailing the kinds of diagnostic documentation required by the University of Washington.

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Physical or Sensory Disabilities

Documentation of physical and sensory disabilities must be written by diagnosing treatment providers who are qualified to make such diagnoses. The letter from your treatment provider should be written on the clinician's professional letterhead, must be dated and signed by the treatment provider, and must include the following:

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Learning Disabilities

A learning disability is indicated by a severe discrepancy between the student's intellectual ability and academic achievement in one or more of the following areas:

The tests used in the diagnostic reports must be administered by a licensed psychologist and must meet the criteria listed below. Minimally, domains to be addressed include but are not limited to:

Each diagnosis of a learning disability must contain the names and results of tests (including raw test scores and protocols), specify the nature and effects of the learning disability upon university-level academic and related endeavors, and suggest appropriate educational compensation strategies. The evaluator must address the student's ability to function effectively in a university environment (e.g., ability to focus on assignments, organize one's time, attend class, work in groups and alone, do independent research, and take projects to completion).

The diagnostic report is to be used for two purposes:

  1. to document the existence, nature, and extent of the learning disability
  2. to identify reasonable accommodations.

Please bring this printable version to your healthcare provider: Required Documentation for Diagnosis of Learning Disabilities Adobe PDF file

Because the provision of all reasonable accommodations and services is based upon assessments of the current impact of the student's disability on his or her academic performance in a specific academic program, it is in the student's best interest to provide recent and appropriate documentation. In most cases, this means that the testing has been conducted within the past three years. Learning assessments must be based on adult-level learning. Assessments made at a pre-college level will qualify as acceptable documentation only if they reflect adult capabilities and the academic demands of higher education. If you have questions about the appropriateness of your last documentation, contact the DSS Office to discuss them with the DSS Specialist.

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Identification of a Learning Disability

In identifying a learning disability, the University of Washington Tacoma generally follows the approach of Title 392, Chapter 171 of the Washington Administrative Code. According to Title 392, Chapter 171, Section 406 (which applies to public schools in the state but is not binding on the University), a learning disability is indicated by a severe discrepancy between the student's intellectual ability and academic achievement in one or more of the following areas:

A disability that is the result of visual or hearing problems, motor difficulties, mental retardation, behavioral or emotional disturbance, or environmental, cultural or socio-economic factors is not a learning disability for the purposes of this policy. Please note that a student with a diagnostically documented disability, other than a learning disability, may be entitled to reasonable accommodations for that disability.

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Diagnostic Test Requirements

Tests used to assess the student's intellectual ability and academic achievement shall be:

Assessment materials, procedures, and instruments used for the purpose of assessment and placement shall be selected and administered so as not to be racially or culturally discriminatory. All tests and other evaluation materials shall have been validated for the specific purpose for which they are used and shall accurately reflect whatever factors the tests purport to measure.

Psychological Disabilities Including ADHD

Psychological Disability Defined

For the purposes of this policy, the University of Washington Tacoma defines a psychological disability as a psychological disorder resulting in impairment of cognitive, educational, and/or social functioning as diagnosed by a licensed psychiatrist or licensed psychologist using the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition (DSM IV), or successive editions.

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Diagnosis of Psychological Disabilities

Please bring this printable version to your healthcare provider: Required Documentation for Diagnosis of Psychological Disability Including ADHD Adobe PDF file

The diagnostic report is to be used for two purposes:

  1. to document the existence, nature, and extent of the psychological disability and,
  2. to identify reasonable accommodations.

The tests used in the diagnostic reports must be administered by a licensed psychiatrist or licensed psychologist. Diagnostic reports should be the most recent available and must not be more than three years old. All diagnostic reports must be current and comprehensive and include a diagnosis that meets or exceeds the standards set forth in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition (DSM IV) or successive editions.

Each diagnosis must include the names and results of tests, including raw test data and specify the nature and effects of psychological impairment upon university-level academic and related endeavors. The evaluator must address the student's ability to function effectively in a university environment (e.g., ability to focus on assignments, organize one's time, attend class, work in groups and alone, do independent research and take projects to completion).

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Regarding All Disabilities

On a case-by-case basis, the UW Tacoma Disability Support Services Specialist and the University of Washington tri-campus (Seattle , Tacoma, Bothell ) disability specialists work with students to identify reasonable academic adjustments and auxiliary aids (accommodations) that address needs resulting from documented disability symptoms. The University shall make reasonable accommodations unless they fundamentally alter the nature of the University's curriculum, pose an undue financial or administrative burden on the University, or otherwise constitute an undue hardship. A student's requested accommodations will be considered, but the University will make the final determination whether the requested accommodations are reasonable under Washington State Law Against Discrimination, The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and RCW 28B.10.910-914 (the Washington State Core Services Law of 1994).

Please see the Guide to Disability Rights Laws furnished by the U.S. Department of Justice, on the web or view their printable version for more details.

DSS shall attempt to find an alternate accommodation in cases where the preferred accommodation of an otherwise qualified student with a disability is unable to be made. If DSS is unable to identify accommodations that do not impose an undue hardship, DSS will refer the request to the ADA Coordinator on the Seattle Campus of the University of Washington for review. If a student is not satisfied with an alternative accommodation offered by DSS, the student may request a review by the ADA Coordinator on the Seattle Campus of the University of Washington. Faculty members may also make requests for review of accommodations. Faculty members disagreeing with requirements to make accommodations may also request a review by the ADA Coordinator on the Seattle Campus of the University of Washington.

As part of the review, the ADA Coordinator may consult with others. If no reasonable accommodation is identified, the ADA Coordinator will so notify the Associate Vice Chancellor of Student & Enrollment Services or the appropriate UW Tacoma academic director or dean, who will review the matter and prepare a written report of the reasons for the denial of accommodation. DSS will retain one copy of this report and provide the student with another.

For further information regarding grievance procedures, visit the page containing our Non-Discrimination Policy.