The ABO requires candidates or diplomates to provide only the documentation that is reasonable and necessary to establish that the candidate or diplomate (i) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; and (ii) how any such impairment limits the candidate’s or diplomate’s ability to take ABO examinations under standard conditions and what accommodations are needed.

The nature and extent of documentation that is necessary will depend on the nature of the disability and the specific modification or aid requested. Certain requests, such as those involving accessibility of testing facilities for persons with mobility impairments or auxiliary aids or services for persons with hearing or speech impairments, may involve less documentation than requests for modifications in the administration of the test for persons with cognitive impairments.

Examples of appropriate documentation substantiating the need for desired testing accommodations may include, but are not limited to:

  • The nature of the disability giving rise to the need for accommodation along with recommended accommodations and for why each requested accommodation is needed. A description of the functional limitations due to the disability would be useful in evaluating the request.
  • A report written by a professional appropriately qualified to evaluate the disability and related need for accommodation. Such a report must appear on the professional’s letterhead (including address and telephone number) with his or her credentials stated in the letterhead or title. The report must include the name of the candidate or diplomate and the date of testing, and must be signed by the professional writing the report.
  • A history of any previous settings in which accommodations have been granted (e.g., OKAP, MCAT, USMLE, etc.). Candidates or diplomates may also submit documentation of past modifications, accommodations, or auxiliary aids or services received in similar testing situations, as well as such modifications, accommodations, or related aids and services provided in response to an Individualized Education Program (IEP) provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a plan describing services provided pursuant to section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or the ADA, or accommodations provided in any other special education program.
  • Any reports or assessments submitted in support of a request should include the date and location; copies of evaluation reports with scores or ratings for each standard instrument or assessment methods used; and a full description of any nonstandard instruments and assessment methods used.
  • Other examples of relevant information that may support a candidate’s or diplomate’s request would be the results of psycho-educational or other professional evaluations; a candidate’s or diplomate’s history of diagnosis; or observations by educators.
  • The ABO recognizes that some candidates or diplomates may not have received a diagnosis of a condition until later in life. In such situations the ABO will consider bona fide, reasonably supported reasons for the late diagnosis, as well as academic or other objective evidence related to the asserted disability and need for accommodations.

The ABO will consider all information provided, but some information carries particular weight. The ABO will give considerable weight to documentation of past modifications, accommodations or auxiliary aids or services received in similar testing situations or by other standardized testing agencies, as well as such modifications, accommodations or related aids and services provided pursuant to the IDEA, ADA or the Rehabilitation Act. The ABO will also carefully consider evaluations from qualified professionals who, based upon their personal treatment or observations (and not just a review of records) have determined in their clinical judgment, and in accordance with generally accepted diagnostic criteria, that the candidate or diplomate has a disability and needs the requested test accommodations in order to demonstrate the applicant’s ability and achievement level.