Policies, Procedures and Documentation Guidelines
Disability Documentation Guidelines and Procedures
All students with disabilities who are requesting accommodations or services through the Center for Accessibility Resources & Disability Services (CARDS) are required to provide appropriate documentation. Students are encouraged to review the the Disability Documentation Guidelines and share them with their clinicians.
Student Disability Accommodation Grievance Procedure
Eligibility for disability accommodations for students is determined through an interactive process between the individual student and the Center for Accessibility Resources & Disability Services (CARDS). Documentation supplied by a licensed clinician must include recommendations for disability accommodation. The recommendations made by clinicians are weighed in determining accommodations, but are not binding in nature. CARDS reserves the right to evaluate recommendations made by a clinician when granting disability accommodation requests. Disagreement with recommendations provided by licensed clinicians may be due to many factors, including, but not limited to, differences in learning environments; lack of direct application between the student's disability accommodation request and the licensed clinician's recommendation; and inappropriate use of the term "accommodation." If eligibility for an academic or housing accommodation is denied, the student may seek an appeal of that determination. Appeals can be resolved informally or formally using the process described here.
Please provide a copy of this PDF or this webpage to your clinician when requesting documentation.
All students who register with the Barnard Center for Accessibility Resources & Disability Services (CARDS) are required to meet individually with the CARDS staff to create an accommodation plan based on the type of disability the student has and to review the student’s documentation. Students have a responsibility to provide appropriate and timely disability-related to CARDS in order for accommodation plans to be developed.
Students with learning disabilities and/or ADD should refer to the guidelines in Documentation of a Learning Disability / ADD. Students with all other disability diagnoses (mobility, visual and hearing disabilities; chronic medical conditions; psychiatric disabilities; cognitive disabilities, and substance abuse/recovery) must provide documentation which responds to the 7 template items listed below. These guidelines have been adapted from those developed by the Association on Higher Education and Disability (www.ahead.org).
Notice to Clinicians:
Please provide a brief narrative report which addresses the necessary information and either scan/email your report to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 212.280.8768. Please know that any documentation faxed or mailed to our office will have a delay in processing because our office is currently remote. We highly recommend scanning and emailing documentation to email@example.com for faster confirmation of receipt. Documentation should be type-written on your letterhead and must be completed in the 7-item format as seen below.
Please remember that the student will not be formally registered with CARDS, nor will they be able to receive any disability-related services and accommodations, until the student has met with a CARDS staff member for an intake meeting appointment to discuss individual needs and documentation is reviewed. An accommodation plan is developed with the student at that meeting. Please call CARDS at 212.854.4634 if you have any questions. Thank you in advance for your assistance.
Requirements for Documentation
- The credentials of the evaluator/s
The best quality documentation is provided by a licensed or otherwise properly credentialed professional who has undergone appropriate and comprehensive training, has relevant experience, and has no personal relationship with the individual being evaluated. An appropriate match between the credentials of the individual making the diagnosis and the condition being reported is expected (e.g., an orthopedic limitation might be documented by a physician, but not a licensed psychologist).
- A statement identifying the disability
Acceptable documentation includes a clear diagnostic statement that describes what the condition is and how it was diagnosed. While diagnostic codes from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM) or the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) of the World Health Organization are helpful in providing this information, a clinical description will also convey the necessary information.
- A description of the diagnostic methodology used
Quality documentation includes a description of the diagnostic criteria, evaluation methods, procedures, tests and dates of administration, as well as a clinical narrative, observation, and specific results. Where appropriate to the nature of the disability, having both summary data and specific test scores (with the norming population identified) within the report is recommended. Diagnostic methods that are congruent with the particular disability and current professional practices in the field are recommended. Methods may include formal instruments, medical examinations, structured interview protocols, performance observations and unstructured interviews. If results from informal, non-standardized or less common methods of evaluation are reported, an explanation of their role and significance in the diagnostic process will strengthen their value in providing useful information.
- A description of the current functional limitations
Information on how the condition(s) currently impacts the individual provides useful information for both establishing a disability and identifying possible accommodations. A combination of the results of formal evaluation procedures, clinical narrative, and the individual’s self-report is the most comprehensive approach to fully documenting impact. The best quality documentation is thorough enough to demonstrate whether and how a major life activity is substantially limited by providing a clear sense of the severity, frequency and pervasiveness of the condition(s). While relatively recent documentation is recommended in most circumstances, common sense and discretion in accepting older documentation of conditions that are permanent or non-varying is recommended. Likewise, changing conditions and/or changes in how the condition impacts the individual brought on by growth and development may warrant more frequent updates in order to provide an accurate picture. It is important to remember that documentation is not time-bound; the need for recent documentation depends on the facts and circumstances of the individual’s condition. In most cases, documentation should be current within the past 3- 5 years; however some documentation that is older may also be relevant. In some cases, previous or more recent documentation may be requested to draw connections between the student’s condition and the accommodation being requested.
- A description of the expected progression or stability of the disability
It is helpful when documentation provides information on expected changes in the functional impact of the disability over time and context. Information on the cyclical or episodic nature of the disability and known or suspected environmental triggers to episodes provides opportunities to anticipate and plan for varying functional impacts. If the condition is not stable, information on interventions for exacerbations (including the individual’s own strategies) and recommended timelines for re-evaluation are most helpful.
- A description of current and past accommodations, services and/or medications
The most comprehensive documentation will include a description of both current and past medications, auxiliary aids, assistive devices, support services, and accommodations, including their effectiveness in ameliorating functional impacts of the disability. A discussion of any significant side effects from current medications or services that may impact physical, perceptual, behavioral or cognitive performance is helpful when included in the report. While accommodations provided in another setting are not binding on the current institution, they may provide insight in making current decisions.
- Recommendations for accommodations, adaptive devices, assistive services, compensatory strategies, and/or collateral support services
Recommendations from professionals with a history of working with the student provide valuable information for review and planning process. It is most helpful when recommended accommodations and strategies are logically related to functional limitations; if connections are not obvious, a clear explanation of their relationship can be useful in decision- making. While the College has no obligation to provide or adopt recommendations that would fundamentally modify the course or degree requirements. Those accommodation recommendations that are congruent with the programs, services, and benefits offered by the College may be appropriate.
The following is a brief example of the correct / required format for the Documentation (info may not pertain to your client).
Disability Documentation for **** (name of Barnard student and class year)
-- Date of documentation
- *****, Associate Director, **** Counseling Center. **** was in my eating disorders group last fall and spring semester. I have also seen her individually on a number of occasions.
- **** has been diagnosed with depression and an eating disorder by several of our clinicians. Her depression, at its worst, involves self- loathing, suicidal ideation, and extreme interpersonal sensitivity. Her eating disorder, at its worst, involves fasting, bingeing, and purging. All the above symptoms have undermined her functioning at times.
- **** diagnoses have been arrived at by numerous clinicians at our Center. She has been evaluated individually by psychologists and a psychiatrist, tracked weekly in the eating disorders group, and medically and nutritionally monitored in Health Services.
- **** symptoms fluctuate in severity, depending partially on stress level. Her depression and eating disorder have made it hard for her to study well at times.
- **** seems to have developed greater insight into the undermining potential of her disorders, and she is more willing to seek out therapeutic support. However, her disorders are long-standing and remain active.
- **** has been on Wellbutrin.
- **** would strongly benefit from having her own kitchen, ideally in a single. Being able to prepare food would facilitate her ability to adhere to her meal plan, which she must do with considerable financial constraints. Living in a single would also help contain her interpersonal sensitivity, which has, at times, destabilized her psychologically.
Final Exam Hardship Procedure
The Registrar defines exam hardship as three exams finished within a 24-hour period (i.e. at 9:00 am,1:00 pm & 4:00 pm) or four exams finished within a 48-hour period. In these cases, the registrar allows students to move a final exam’s start time.
CARDS offers different criteria to make allowances for students whose testing accommodations include extended time. CARDS students who: (1) receive 1.5x or 2x extended time or untimed breaks to complete a final exam (usually 3 hours); and (2) have two exams scheduled for one day would be testing anywhere from 8-12 hours in one day. Therefore, CARDS’s threshold for an exam hardship is defined as two exams within a 24-hour period if students are testing for more than 6 hours. In these cases, CARDS would allow students to move the start time for one of their exams. Students must complete an exam hardship form.
If you meet the criteria of an exam hardship and have more than 6 hours of timed testing with your eligible accommodations, please complete the Final Exam Hardship Request Form, so that CARDS can review your hardship and move the exam to a different date if needed. Please double-check all of your final exam information provided by your professors as well as the below exam schedules before submitting your form.
If faculty question a change in start time, CARDS staff will review the request to determine which exam to move. In general, we move the exam scheduled to start later. However, we do consider the comments provided by faculty when making a determination if neither faculty member agrees to an alternative date. Please note that, when proctoring on-campus, CARDS will move the late afternoon/evening exams (4:00pm, 4:10pm, 7:00pm, 7:10pm) to earlier in the day to fit within our extended office hours for final exams.
Foreign Language Modification Procedure
All students, including those with learning disabilities who anticipate difficulty in satisfying the Barnard language requirement, are expected to attempt elementary courses in language during their first year at Barnard. Students with diagnosed learning disabilities who experience severe problems in language learning may choose to submit a petition to the Committee on Programs and Academic Standing for a possible modification of the requirement. Students should discuss their specific situations with their advisers and their CARDS coordinator and then meet with their class dean. Learn more here: Barnard Language Modification Request.
Reduced Course Load Procedure
Students must be enrolled in a total of 24 credits over the course of the academic year in order to maintain full-time status. The expectation is that students will register for a minimum of 12 credits for the Fall and Spring semesters. If you need to register for fewer than 12 credits either semester, you will need to request a Reduced Course Load through CARDS as a disability-related accommodation on a per-semester basis. Please note that a Reduced Course Load permits students to take between 9-11 credits while retaining their full time student status. If you are a student on an F1 visa, you should also consult with International Student Services as part of the Reduced Course Load process.
To begin the Reduced Course Load request process, students will need to follow these steps:
- Ensure that you are registered for a minimum of 12 credits by the end of the shopping period. All reduced course load approvals will be granted after the conclusion of the shopping period.
- Submit your Reduced Course Load form by the due date.
- Meet with your CARDS coordinator to discuss your reduced course load request. In most cases, we will ask for documentation from your medical provider that supports your request.
- Submit your Reduced Course Load Drop/ Withdrawal form to your CARDS coordinator. If your request is granted, your coordinator will sign your form and submit it to the Registrar's Office so that your drop or withdrawal can be processed.
Housing Accommodation Policies and Procedures
The Center for Accessibility Resources & Disability Services works closely with Residential Life & Housing to respond to the individual needs of Barnard students with disabilities who wish to reside in on-campus housing. Students must follow the linked procedures and provide all of the required information & documentation in order to be considered for disability housing accommodations each year. Learn more about the process here: Housing Accommodation Process and Deadlines
Service and Support Animal Policies
Barnard College will reasonably accommodate persons with disabilities who require the assistance of Service or Support Animals. Each request will be evaluated on a case‐by‐case basis.
Service Animals are usually dogs who have been trained to perform a specific task that assists the individual with a disability. Service Animals are allowed in public spaces on campus, but should be approved by CARDS if a student is requesting access for their animal in classroom spaces and/or other spaces not open to the public. Please review the Service Animal Policy above for more information.
Support Animals are other animals that have not necessarily been trained for a specific purpose, but that provide comfort and/or emotional support for an individual with a disability. Support Animals are allowed on a case-by-case basis for students with disabilities within their living space in the Residence Halls, with appropriate approval from CARDS. Support Animals are generally not permitted in public spaces on campus, such as rooms of any other students in College housing, campus housing common spaces, or other areas of the College without prior approval through the CARDS’s reasonable accommodation process. Students seeking approval of a Support Animal must first review the Service and Support Animal Policy, secure supporting documentation (this should include how the support animal fits into an ongoing treatment plan), and then schedule a meeting with their CARDS coordinator to begin evaluation of the request. The process for evaluating a Support Animal request can take up to six weeks, depending on the time of year that the request is received. Please review the Support Animal Policy for more information.
Personal Care Attendant Procedure
Students who wish to have live-in or per diem personal care attendant (PCA) must be approved for this accommodation before bringing their assistant onto campus. All PCAs must be 18 years of age or older.
A student with this approved accommodation cannot move into campus housing until a primary PCA has been secured. Before moving in, the student will also have a contingency plan and secondary PCA in place. The contingency plan and second PCA are required in care the primary PCA becomes unavailable for any reason. The student will ensure that the contingency plan can be activated quickly. Students are encouraged to have a third PCA alternative in place should the primary and secondary PCAs become unavailable. Please note that the College is not responsible for providing a PCA on an interim basis. We ask that you notify us of your primary PCA and contingency plan at least one month before move-in. This will allow us to complete the required background check process (detailed below) before move-in.
Temporary assistance from family
If a PCA is unable to start their duties immediately upon move-in and the student requires the temporary assistance of a family member (18 years of age or older) in campus housing until the PCA is available, the family member will be allowed to stay with the student for a two week period of time, after which the family member will leave the residence hall. If a PCA has not been secured to start by that time, the student will also vacate the residence hall.
Required background check
Before allowed access to any campus housing unit, all PCAs will be subject to a background check pursuant to Barnard College policies and procedures. The student is responsible for the cost of the background check. The student and the primary PCA, as well as all alternate PCAs, are required to complete and sign a Personal Care Attendant Agreement each academic year.
Meal Plan Modification Policy and Procedure
Barnard Dining Accommodation Process:
1. Students who are requesting dining accommodations must first register with CARDS. This process involves submitting an application, supporting documentation (see below for specialized guidance), and having an intake meeting with a CARDS coordinator.
Documentation guidance for food allergies: this documentation should be from an Allergist or ENT and should detail the severity of the allergic reaction, along with any recommended dining or housing accommodations. It should also include a list of food(s) the student is allergic to, potential foods that may induce an allergic response, and the severity of the allergic reaction to each.
Documentation guidance for other dietary restrictions: this documentation should be from a licensed medical specialist (such as a gastroenterologist) and should outline the medical necessity of the specified diet, including foods that must be avoided, foods that may induce an adverse reaction, and foods deemed ‘safe’ based on the student’s condition, and an outline of what adverse reactions may occur if prohibited food is consumed. Further, any recommendations for housing accommodations should be suggested.
2. During the CARDS intake process, the student’s coordinator will contact Chartwells’ registered dietitian for a joint consultation between the student, CARDS, and Dining Services, as needed. During this consultation, possible options for dining safely on campus will be discussed, as well as possible accommodations that can be made. In rare instances, Barnard may make the determination that the student’s needs are unable to be accommodated through Dining Services, and in this case we will discuss alternatives with the student.
3. As needed, CARDS and Dining Services will schedule a walk-through of the dining hall(s) with the student so that they are familiarized with dining options, stations, and the appropriate persons to talk to if they have any questions.
Please be advised that the above procedure only applies to dining-specific accommodations. Housing related accommodations (such as access to a kitchen) are considered through a separate Housing Accommodation Process. Please refer to this link to view applicable deadlines and procedures.