Winthrop University: Eligibility for Services

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Office of Accessibility

Students with disabilities who need accommodations, are responsible for identifying themselves to the Office of Accessibility (OA). Call 803/323-3290 (V/TDD) or stop by 307 Bancroft Hall to schedule an appointment with OA professional staff. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) defines a disability as a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. All students with documented disabilities are eligible for services. 

Some examples of disabilities include, but are not limited to:


  • Chronic Medical Illness

  • Hearing Impairments

  • Learning Disabilities

  • Mobility Impairments

  • Mental Health Disabilities

  • Speech Impairments

  • Visual Impairments 

Disability Documentation

Students are responsible for providing current, appropriate documentation of their disability from a qualified health services provider (i.e., physician, licensed psychologist, etc.). High School IEPs and 504 Plans alone are not sufficient documentation of a disability at the college level, although they can be helpful. Students should understand that while medical or educational documentation can establish a diagnosis, not every diagnosis rises to the level of being a disability under the law. Documentation is essential in determining the current impact of the disability on a student’s performance, and so it is important that disability documentation meet certain guidelines. What does that mean? While OA may require additional information to further define needed accommodations, documentation should:

  • Address the current functional limitations (i.e. the current impact of the disability on the student) and prognosis of the condition

  • Be current – what is considered current will vary with disability, but some helpful guidelines are: within the last 3 years for learning disabilities, the last 3 years for ADHD, and the last year for psychiatric disabilities

  • Be typed or printed on official letterhead, dated, and signed by an evaluator qualified to make the diagnosis

  • Include a clear diagnostic statement

  • Include a description of the methodology used and test scores that support the diagnosis

  • Include specific recommendations for accommodations that are related to the functional limitations

Documentation can also include:

  • Student's self-report:

    • The student is a critical source of information regarding his or her disability. A student interested in requesting accommodations must schedule an Intake Interview with OA professional staff to discuss his or her disability, including the impact of the disability, his or her experience with accommodations (effectiveness, etc.), the current need for particular accommodations, and any student questions.

  • Additional relevant medical and educational sources:

    • Documentation from additional sources helps to substantiate disability and accommodation needs. Relevant documentation may include educational records, medical records, and/or reports and assessments created by health care providers, school psychologists, teachers, or the educational system. IEPs and 504 Plans that reflect the student's educational and accommodation history are also helpful.

    • Documentation will vary in its relevance and value, depending on the original context, the credentials of the evaluator, and the level of detail and comprehensiveness provided.

What does "current" mean?

  • What is considered current can vary by disability. Many disabilities are stable, lifelong conditions, and thus current may not mean 'recent.' Some disabilities, however, will vary over time with changes in environment, in treatment, and/or medications. The goal of documentation is to illustrate a connection between the current impact of the disability and the requested accommodations.

  • Documentation will vary in its relevance and value, depending on the original context, the credentials of the evaluator, and the level of detail and comprehensiveness provided.

A Disability Verification Form can be completed by one’s treating specialist to provide relevant and appropriate disability information to OA.

The Registration Process

Students who would like to receive accommodations from the Office of Accessibility will need to officially register for services and accommodations. The Registration Process is as follows:
1. Complete the New OA Accommodations Request Form
2. Upload any documentation that verifies your disability/condition. If you do not have any documentation or paperwork, you may download a Disability Verification Form to be completed by your treating specialist here. This documentation will need to be uploaded when you complete your application. If you run into any problems with the file upload page, please contact OA.

3. Check your Winthrop email. Once OA has the application AND documentation you will receive confirmation by OA to your Winthrop email which will instruct you to contact OA to schedule your intake appointment.

Confidentiality and Use of Records

General Rule

The Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) regulates disclosure of disability documentation and records maintained by the Office of Accessibility (OA). Under this federal act, prior written consent by the student is required before OA staff may release disability documentation or records.

Exception to the Rule

Under FERPA, OA professional staff is permitted to release information to a school official who has a legitimate educational interest that is specified in his or her position description, that is related to a student's education, or that is related to the discipline of a student.

What This Means

Administrators, professors, or other school officials may request information only if a legitimate educational interest exists. While faculty will need information about requested classroom accommodations, faculty will generally not need to know specific information regarding a student's disability. OA professional staff will only share information with other school officials when appropriate and will carefully balance a student's request for confidentiality with the request for additional, relevant information about the student. OA seeks to preserve the student's wish to keep his or her disability information and status confidential. We remain sensitive to this issue.

Retaining Records

Disability documentation and related records will be retained by the Office of Accessibility for five (5) years from last semester in which the student received services.

Prior written consent by the student is required before OA staff may release disability documentation or records. Please contact the Office of Accessibility if you have questions about your disability documentation at 803/323-3290.

Last Updated: 7/28/20