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Chronic Medical Conditions

General Information

Purdue University is required by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to provide effective auxiliary aids and services for qualified students with documented disabilities if such academic adjustments are needed to provide equitable access to the University's programs and services. Federal law defines a disability as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities." Major life activities are defined as the ability to perform functions such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, or taking care of oneself. It is important to note that a diagnosis of a chronic medical condition does not necessarily constitute a disability. The degree of impairment must be significant enough to "substantially limit" one or more major life activities.

The mission of the Disability Resource Center is to provide services that enable and encourage eligible students with disabilities to seek success in their intellectual and personal development at Purdue and elsewhere. The staff of the Disability Resource Center, in collaboration with the wider University community, ensures these students access to academic and extracurricular activities. The mission of the Disability Resource Center includes the provision of accommodations to qualified students with a chronic medical condition. The documentation guidelines are designed to allow the Disability Resource Center to achieve these goals.

The Purdue University guidelines for documentation of a chronic medical condition were developed to aid professionals who assess Purdue students. The documentation must identify the qualified professional making the evaluation, include a specific diagnosis of a chronic medical condition, be current, and be comprehensive. The documentation must establish the functional limitations of the condition, how it impairs the person and how it may impact educational performance. The definition of a functional limitation is: A substantial impairment in the individual's ability to perform in the condition, manner or duration of a major life activity. Academic adjustments may be recommended; however, a clear and convincing rationale is required to identify the necessity of the adjustments to achieve access. Academic adjustments are assisting devices, modifications or adaptations that serve to ease the current impact of the medical condition on access to a particular learning activity. (Note: there are additional guidelines that apply to the diagnosis of a mental disorder (e.g., Psychological Disability, Learning Disorder, attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder).)

The staff of the Disability Resource Center on a case-by-case basis makes the determination of whether a diagnosed chronic medical condition rises to the level of a substantial limitation of a major life activity. Further, they determine what reasonable adjustments in the academic activities are needed to provide access. If the quality or quantity of the documentation is inadequate, the options for Disability Resource Center staff are to deny eligibility, to deny a requested adjustment or to request additional documentation.

Information provided to the Disability Resource Center is considered confidential. Documentation and evaluation information will not be released outside of the academic community without the consent of the student or the compulsion of legal process. Generally, documentation and evaluation information is not shared within the academic community without the consent of the student.



The following guidelines are provided to assure that documentation is appropriate to determine eligibility and to support requests for reasonable academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services. The staff of the Disability Resource Center is available to consult with diagnosticians regarding any requirements of these guidelines. The documentation must clearly state the following:


  • Diagnosis of a medical condition
  • Duration or expected duration
  • Statements regarding the probable course of the condition


  • Recent documentation is required
  • Documentation must reflect the current impact on the student's functioning (Note: Medical conditions that are sporadic or change over time may require more current evaluations)


  • Statements of the condition's functional limitations on learning or other major life activities
  • Statements regarding the intensity and frequency of the functional limitations
  • If appropriate, a summary of assessment procedures, relevant tests administered, test results, and interpretations should be provided
  • A list of the individual's current medications, dosage, frequency and side effects-relevant to the condition-should be provided


  • Academic adjustments may be recommended
  • Specific recommendations for academic adjustments should include an explanation of why there are needed to achieve access (Note: Academic adjustments may change over time and may not be identified through the initial diagnostic process. A history of the provision of an adjustment to provide access does not guarantee the current provision of the adjustment or rule out a similar adjustment)


Professionals conducting assessments, diagnosing the chronic medical conditions, and making recommendations for academic adjustments for students must have comprehensive training and experience with the medical condition. A family member may not be the evaluating professional.


All documentation must be on letterhead, dated, signed and should be typed. The documentation should clearly identify the evaluating professional: name, title, professional credentials relevant to the diagnosis and state (where practicing).


QUESTIONS? If you have questions regarding the nature of the information needed for a student with a chronic medical condition, please call the Disability Resource Center at (765) 494-1247, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


Disability Resource Center
Ernest C. Young Hall
155 S Grant Street
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2114
Fax: (765) 496-3759