2.4 Intake Process and Eligibility Determination

OSWD invites students who wish to request reasonable accommodations to meet with OSWD to discuss their past use of accommodations and any disability-related barriers they anticipate, or are experiencing, at the University. Although external paperwork may not be necessary to establish eligibility for accommodations, medical records, psycho-educational testing reports, and school records (such as an IEP or 504 Program) may help guide the conversation and support individual requests. If this type of information is available, it should be provided to OSWD along with the completed OSWD Intake and Release Forms. These documents may be faxed to OSWD or brought to the student's first meeting with OSWD.

Students who are coming to the University for the first time need to keep in mind that the laws governing postsecondary education and students with disabilities give the student with disabilities more responsibility for disclosing their disabilities and advocating for their own accommodations. That process can take more time than expected. New students who will be arriving on campus for the fall semester are invited to submit paperwork during the summer before their arrival. Students on campus are advised not to delay meeting with OSWD out of concern for not having appropriate paperwork.

While OSWD asks for "current" documentation of the student's disability, just what is "current" requires individual determination. For example, if a student was born with low vision and his/her vision has not changed through his/her life, the student's records from school would be considered "current" since they still provide a true record. For episodic disabilities (e.g. Multiple Sclerosis, some psychological disabilities, other chronic disabilities), OSWD may seek medical documentation within a recent timeframe (three to six months) or ask for annual updates. It is always appropriate to discuss documentation requirements with OSWD staff.

Our goal is to evaluate the student's needs to determine accommodations that will truly support that student's experience at Gallaudet University. Our question is never "Does the student have a particular disability", but "Does its impact for this particular student constitute a disability". Following guidance from the Association on Higher Education and Disability, OSWD recognizes that acceptable sources of documentation for substantiating a student's disability, and supporting a request for particular accommodations, can take a variety of forms, which we prioritize as

  1. Student's Self-Report,
  2. Observation and interaction with OSWD staff and other trained personnel, and
  3. Information from third parties and other external sources.


Disability related information is to be treated as medical information and handled under the same strict rules of confidentiality, as is any other medical information. This includes any documentation that persons with disabilities provide to establish the existence of their disability and their need for accommodation or consideration.

Disability related information is to be collected and maintained on separate forms and kept in secure files with limited access.

Disability related information is to be shared only on a limited basis within the institutional community. It may be shared only when prior approval is given by the student, or there is a compelling reason for the individual from the institution to be seeking information regarding some specific aspect of this confidential information.


The student who wishes to obtain OSWD services must apply for them by submitting both the OSWD Intake Form and the OSWD Information Release Form (both found on the OSWD website), along with current documentation of the student's disability (self-report, medical, psycho-educational, psychological, or other reports), as early as possible. The received information is reviewed to determine eligibility status for OSWD service acceptance. Notification is sent in writing that the student:

  • has been fully accepted into OSWD and is eligible to receive services;
  • has been determined eligible for services on a conditional basis, with full acceptance pending the arrival of additional documentation; OR
  • has been dedetermined ineligible for OSWD services. A student denied services may appeal the decision through the Grievance Procedure.

Conditional Acceptance

Conditional Acceptance is granted when insufficient information has been provided to document full acceptance. Conditional Acceptance is intended to be temporary and is granted to allow more time for the student to obtain and submit additional documentation. Conditional Acceptance remains in effect until the beginning of the next semester.

OSWD will identify what additional documentation is required for full acceptance. This additional documentation must be submitted before the beginning of the semester following Conditional Acceptance. If this additional documentation is not provided before Conditional Acceptance expires, services may be reduced or suspended.

On-Campus Mental-Health Assessments

Gallaudet's Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) focuses on the mental health needs of Gallaudet students. CAPS offers counseling, psychotherapy, assessment, and other mental health services to University students. Services are provided by experienced staff and advanced trainees who are fluent in American Sign Language and with other modes of communication used by deaf and hard of hearing individuals.

OSWD refers students to CAPS for psycho-educational, psychological, learning disability, and attention-deficit disorder assessments. CAPS provides a limited number of assessments to students. Gallaudet students who desire assessment services should contact CAPS to be placed on its waiting list. Within a few weeks, the student will be contacted to schedule an initial appointment, where a clinician will explain the assessment process and estimate the wait time, which is typically several months. Students may also obtain referrals from the clinician about off-campus assessment resources.