Documentation Guidelines: Hearing Impairment

To receive accommodations for College Board exams, students with hearing impairments must make a request to College Board’s Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD)—even if they have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), a 504 plan, or already receive those accommodations for school or state tests.

All requests should meet seven key criteria.


  1. The diagnosis should be clearly stated.

    Documentation should state the hearing impairment as diagnosed. The diagnosis should be made by someone with appropriate professional credentials, should include a clear and specific statement of deafness or hearing loss, and when appropriate, should relate the disability to professional standards.

  2. All information should be current.

    Because disabilities change over time, documentation should be up to date. In most cases of hearing impairment, the evaluation and diagnostic testing should be no more than two years old.

  3. History should be presented.

    Information about the onset and etiology of the hearing impairment, the student’s history of receiving school accommodations, and the student’s current use of accommodations helps College Board understand the nature and severity of the student’s disability and the need for accommodations. Teacher observations are often helpful. This information can be provided on the Teacher Survey Form.

  4. The diagnosis should be supported by testing.

    A note from your treatment provider is often not sufficient to support the need for accommodations. Documentation should demonstrate that a comprehensive assessment was conducted and include:

    • Current audiogram (within two years) and audiological status (static or changing) and its functional impact on the student’s academic learning.
    • A comprehensive speech/language evaluation, including standard scores for all administered subtests and a narrative summary of the evaluation results.
    • A statement regarding the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants (if applicable).
    • Oftentimes, evidence of the impact on academic functioning is helpful, such as a comprehensive psychoeducational evaluation.

    For more details, see documentation guidelines for commonly used diagnostic tests.

  5. Functional limitations should be described.

    Explain how the student’s hearing impairment impacts academic functioning and ability to participate in College Board exams. Functional limitation can be documented in a variety of ways:

    • Speech/language or auditory processing evaluations.
    • Psychoeducational evaluations, including standardized test scores and narrative. Use national norms to support both the diagnosis and functional limitation.
    • Summary of the student's developmental, educational, and/or medical history.
    • Descriptive information from the school, such as teacher observations, which can be recorded on the Teacher Survey Form.
  6. Recommended accommodations should be justified.

    Most College Board exams are written tests administered in a quiet environment. Oral instructions are usually presented before testing starts. The needs of many students can be met with a copy of written instructions or preferential seating, which may be requested. If a sign language interpreter is needed, documentation should explain why a written copy of oral instructions is insufficient.

    Provide a detailed rationale for all requested accommodations, focusing on:

    • The connection between the student’s diagnosed hearing impairment and requested accommodations.
    • Current academic needs of the student, including functional impairments and use of accommodations in school.
    • Students requesting extended time should document difficulty taking timed tests and include current scores on timed and untimed or extended time tests.

    See documentation guidelines for frequently requested accommodations for requirements specific to extended time, breaks, reading and seeing accommodations, recording responses, use of a four-function calculator, and assistive technology.

  7. Evaluators' professional credentials should be listed.

    Medical doctors, including otorhinolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat specialists), and otologists (ear specialists) are qualified to provide diagnosis of hearing disorders in support of accommodation requests. It may also be useful to supply a current audiogram performed by an audiologist. All evaluators must be licensed by the state in which they practice.