Specific Learning Disabilities

Students requesting accommodation on the basis of a specific learning disability must provide documentation from a professional who has undergone comprehensive training and has relevant experience in differential diagnosis of a full range of cognitive and psychiatric disabilities and who has expertise in evaluating the impact of learning disabilities on an individual’s educational performance (licensed clinical psychologist, neuropsychologist, school psychologist, or psychometrist).  Experience working with an adult population is essential.  Documentation must be current: within the past 3 years for a high school student and within the past 5 years for an adult.  A school plan such as an IEP or 504 Accommodation Plan is insufficient documentation.  All testing instruments must be standardized for use on adults.

Acceptable documentation of LD must address all of the points listed below.

1. Diagnostic Interview

The interview must relate a description of the presenting problem(s); developmental, medical, psychosocial and employment histories; family history (including primary language of the home and the student’s current level of English fluency); a discussion of comorbidity where indicated; and relevant information regarding the student’s academic history.

2. Assessment

For the neurological or psychological evaluation to illustrate a substantial limitation to learning, the comprehensive assessment battery must address the following domains:

a. Aptitude / Cognitive Ability

An assessment of global intellectual functioning is required, as measured by the latest version of one of the following acceptable instruments.  Subtest and standard scores must be reported:

Acceptable Instruments
  • Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale III (or latest version).  The WAIS is the preferred instrument.
  • Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery – Revised: Tests of Cognitive Ability
  • Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale: Fourth Edition
Unacceptable Instruments
  • The Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (KBIT) is not a comprehensive measure and is therefore not suitable.
  • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) – this instrument is not standardized for use on adults.

 b. Academic Achievement

A comprehensive achievement battery with subtest and standard scores, indicating current level of functioning in the academic areas of reading, math, oral and written language, must be included, as measured by the latest version of one of the following achievement batteries:

Acceptable Instruments
  • The Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery – Revised: Tests of Achievement
  • Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT)
  • Stanford Test of Academic Skills (TASK)
  • Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults (SATA)
  • Specific achievement tests such as the Test of Written Language – 3 (TOWL-3), Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests – Revised, or the Stanford Diagnostic Mathematics Test.
Unacceptable Instruments
  • The Wide Range Achievement Test  (WRAT)
  • Mini Battery of Achievement (MBA)

(These are not comprehensive measures of achievement and are therefore not suitable for documentation purposes at UA.)

 c. Information Processing

To address the specific areas of short and long-term memory, sequential memory, auditory and visual perception, processing speed, executive function, and motor ability, a comprehensive battery with subtest and standard scores must be administered.  Information from the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Ability, the WAIS-III, or the Detroit Tests of Learning Aptitude – Adult (DTLA-A), as well as other instruments relevant to the presenting learning problem(s) may be used to address these areas.

3. Diagnosis

A clear and specific statement that the student is diagnosed with a learning disability and the accompanying DSM-V diagnostic code(s) are required to determine eligibility for services.

4. Clinical Summary

This portion of the evaluation must address:

a.  The substantial limitations to major life activities posed by the specific learning disability, and the extent to which these limitations impact the academic context for which accommodations are being requested.
b.  Suggestions as to how the specific effects of the learning disability may be accommodated.
c.  Rationale for such accommodations.  Any recommendation for an accommodation should be based on objective evidence of a substantial limitation to learning, supported by specific test results and clinical observations.  Reports should establish the rationale for any accommodation that is recommended, using test data to document the need.*

5. Additional requirements

a.  Interpretation of results is required.  Test protocol sheets, handwritten summary sheets or scores alone are not sufficient.
b.  All reports must be in narrative format, typed, signed by the diagnosing clinician, and must include the names, titles and professional credentials (e.g., licensed psychologist) of the evaluators as well as the date(s) of testing.  Documentation must be submitted on the official letterhead of the professional diagnosing the disability.


* A history of accommodations does not in itself warrant the provision of similar accommodations at UA. The final determination of appropriate and reasonable accommodation rests with the University of Alabama.


Please forward all documentation to:
Office of Disability Services
University of Alabama
1000 Houser Hall
Box 870185
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0185

This document will be made available in alternative formats upon request. Please contact the Office of Disability Services, (205) 348-4285 (Voice) or (205) 348-3081 (TTY) for assistance.