For the purposes of these guidelines, the following definitions apply:


Disability means (1) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities* of an individual; (2) a record of such an impairment; or (3) being regarded as having such an impairment.

*Major life activities include, but are not limited to:

  • walking
  • speaking
  • breathing
  • performing manual tasks
  • seeing
  • hearing
  • learning
  • caring for oneself
  • working
  • sleeping
  • eating
  • standing
  • lifting
  • bending
  • reading
  • concentrating
  • thinking
  • communicating

In addition, a major life activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

Back to top

Essential Functions

Essential functions are the fundamental job duties that a faculty or staff person must be able to perform, with or without a reasonable accommodation.

Back to top

Mental Disability

Any psychiatric disability, intellectual/developmental disability, and or learning disability.

Back to top

Physical Impairment

Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory, cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin and endocrine. Examples would include: cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, cancer, diabetes, heart disease multiple sclerosis, HIV infection, AIDS.

Back to top

Qualified Individual

A qualified individual is an individual who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the employment position that such individual holds or desires.

Back to top

Reasonable Accommodation

Any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified applicant or employee to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of a job, or enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are individualized and flexible, based on the professional documentation/evaluation, the nature of the disability, and the employment environment. For example, reasonable accommodation may include:

  • More frequent or longer breaks
  • Temporary transfer for a different position
  • Job restructuring
  • Modified work schedules
  • Obtaining or modifying equipment or devices
  • Modifying examinations, training materials or policies
  • Providing qualified readers and interpreters
  • Making facilities readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities

Departments are not required to reallocate essential functions, or lower conduct or performance standards to accommodate a disability. Departments are also not obligated to provide personal use items such as glasses or hearing aids.

Back to top

Substantially Limits

An impairment is substantially limiting if an individual is unable to perform a major life activity that the average person in the general population can perform or if it materially restricts the duration, manner, or condition under which an individual can perform a particular major life activity, as compared to the condition, manner, or duration under which the average person in the general population can perform that same major life activity. An impairment that substantially limits one major life activity need not limit other major life activities in order to be considered a disability. When determining whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity, such determination shall be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures, such as medication, medical supplies, equipment or appliances, low vision devices (which do not include ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses) prosthetics including limbs and devices, mobility devices, oxygen therapy equipment, assistive technology, auxiliary aids or services, or learned behavioral modifications. The term “substantially limits” will be interpreted consistent with the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.

Back to top

Undue Hardship

The term undue hardship means significant difficulty or expense in, or resulting from, the provision of an accommodation that would be unduly costly, extensive, substantial or disruptive, or would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the University.

Back to top