Non-Burdensome Process: An Argument in Support of Reframing What Constitutes Necessary Disability Documentation


  • Jamie Axelrod Northern Arizona University
  • Adam Meyer
  • Julie Alexander
  • Enjie Hall
  • Kristie Orr



Documentation, third-party documentation, social justice, Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act


Institutions of higher education and their respective disability offices have been challenged with determining how to apply the 2008 Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) in our present-day work settings. Prior to the amendments, third-party documentation was considered essential almost to the point of being non-negotiable in need for most disability offices to facilitate accommodations for disabled students (The authors have made an intentional choice to utilize identity-first language to challenge negative connotations associated with the term disability and highlight the role that inaccessible systems and environments play in disabling people). The ADAAA questioned this mindset. Students with disabilities often found (and still find) themselves burdened financially and procedurally by disability offices requiring documentation to the point where students may not receive the access they truly need. Furthermore, college campuses are increasingly focusing on the limitations of the environment and not the person. As a result of this evolution, the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) offered a new framework in 2012 describing how to define documentation. For professionals in the higher education disability field and for those invested in this work, it is critical to grasp the evolving understanding of what constitutes documentation and necessary information to make disability accommodation decisions. Otherwise, disabiled students may be further excluded from higher education access.  Subscribe to LDMJ

Author Biography

Jamie Axelrod, Northern Arizona University