Disability Terms & Definitions

Below are definitions of disability-related terms commonly used at KCC. For more information, contact the Support Services Department at 269-965-4150 or supportservices@kellogg.edu.


This is a broad term that refers to auxiliary aids and/or services that students with disabilities receive based on the specific documentation provided to the Support Service Department.


A diagnosis is provided in documentation from a qualified professional with knowledge of the disability and the student and includes: how the disability substantially limits the individual’s ability to perform a major life activity and how the diagnosis was determined. Please note that a diagnosis of an illness or impairment by itself may not entitle you to any accommodations if the physical or mental condition diagnosed does not impose a functional limitation on one or more of the major life activities.


Federal law defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits or restricts the conditions, manner, or duration under which an average person in the general population can perform a major life activity. Disabilities don’t always impair the individual student’s performance but may require the individual to seek alternate methods of carrying out a given task. An impairment or diagnosis, in and of itself, does not constitute a disability: it must “substantially limit” activities of daily living.


Documentation must be provided by a licensed professional, with specific knowledge of both the individual and the disability, and include: diagnosis, method of diagnosis, how the disability affects one or more major life function and recommendations for academic accommodations in a college setting. Support Services will review any documentation received and determine what, if any, accommodations are reasonable for the student.

Functional Limitation

A disability must limit functioning in an educational environment before one can receive an accommodation. A college-level educational institution, such as KCC, defines “functional limitation” as the impact of the disability on the student’s ability to have access to a program of study. A diagnosis of an illness or impairment, in and of itself, does not necessarily require accommodation. There must be a logical link between the functional limitation stemming from the diagnosis and the accommodation provided.

Instructor Notification

When reasonable accommodations have been approved for a student, Support Services sends notification emails to instructors at the beginning of every semester a copy of which is also sent to the student via Kellogg Community College email. The notifications contain the following information:

  • Student name
  • Which course the student is taking with this instructor
  • General information about disability services procedures
  • Approved accommodations for the specific student

No information identifying the student’s actual disability or diagnosis is ever sent to instructors. The student may choose to share this information with the instructors–and in fact, we encourage such sharing to take place, so that greater understanding can develop. Whether or not to share this information and the extent of information shared is up to the student. Counselors are available to discuss this further with students.

Licensed Professional

An individual who has a license to practice in his/her area of medicine, psychiatry, or psychology by a state, board, or other licensing or credentialing body. In the context of disability services, a licensed professional is one who would be qualified to make a diagnosis of a disability related to his/her area of practice. Please note that, for disability documentation, a licensed professional is qualified to make a diagnosis and/or recommendations only when the disability diagnosis is within his/her area of licensure.

Major Life Activity

Government regulations define “major life activities” as “functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.” This list is not an exhaustive one—that is, the listed activities are examples, but other activities may also be considered “major life activities.” An impairment or diagnosis, in and of itself, does not constitute a disability: it must “substantially limit” activities of daily living.

Recommendations for Accommodations

When a qualified professional provides documentation of a disability, he or she is asked by Support Services to recommend specific accommodations that would be appropriate. Support Services uses these recommendations to determine which accommodations are reasonable and effective. Even though an accommodation is recommended, Support Services may or may not approve it based on careful review of the documentation that is provided to our office. Certain accommodations are also not appropriate because they would alter the essential requirements of a degree program or place an undue hardship on the college.

Requesting Accommodations

Please follow this link to see our process for requesting accommodations.

Review of Documentation

Once Support Services receives your disability documentation, our review includes the following:

  • Verification of professional credentials
  • Verification that the diagnosis methods were appropriate to diagnose the stated disability
  • Review of the diagnosis and recommendations for accommodations made by the professional
  • Make a decision on which accommodations are reasonable based on the documentation

Once we have reviewed the documentation and made a decision on reasonable accommodations, notification will be sent to the student. If you are currently enrolled in classes, an Instructor Notification is also sent to your instructors.