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Disability Accommodations

A disability accommodation is a modification or adjustment to an environment or the way something is usually done to ensure that an individual with a disability has access and opportunity equal to that of individuals without disabilities. 

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA as revised, 2008), the University of Michigan must provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities who request them, including students, visitors, and otherwise qualified job applicants and employees. Reasonable accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis through an interactive process between the University of Michigan and the individual requesting the accommodation. 

The LSA Disability Navigators specifically assist LSA employees who have work-related accommodation needs or questions about accommodations. LSA employees include:

  • Full-time and part-time employees
  • Temporary employees
  • Faculty, including Lecturers
  • Staff and Instructional Staff
  • Student Employees (Undergraduate and Graduate students)

Legal Definition of Disability

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a person with a disability as someone who:

  • has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
  • has a history or record of such an impairment; or
  • is regarded as having such an impairment.

Both visible/apparent and invisible/non-apparent disabilities can qualify for accommodations under the ADA. 

Major life activities include (but are not limited to) walking, speaking, breathing, thinking, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, learning, caring for oneself, sitting, lifting, reading, standing, and working.

Major life activities also include major bodily functions. Major bodily functions include (but are not limited to) functions of the immune, digestive, neurological, respiratory, endocrine, and reproductive systems.

Accommodation Examples

Examples of accommodations include someone with a seizure disorder bringing their service dog to an event where animals are not otherwise allowed or installing office signage with large, high contrast print and Braille for a staff member experiencing vision loss.

For prospective and current employees with disabilities, reasonable accommodations may include modifications to the hiring process, job, or work environment which effectively enable the individual to participate in the hiring process or perform the essential functions of their job.

The Job Accommodation Network maintains a database of conditions that may qualify as disabilities under the ADA, along with examples of possible accommodations for each condition. The database is a helpful starting place but it does not account for all the ways a disability can impact different individuals or all possible accommodations.

Contact the Disability Navigators at LSA.Disability.Navigators@umich.edu if you have questions about which accommodations may be appropriate for you.

How to Request Accommodations

LSA employees seeking workplace disability accommodations should contact the LSA Disability Navigators. If you receive an accommodation request from an LSA employee who you support or who reports to you, please refer them to the LSA Disability Navigators.

Complete the Disability Navigators Meeting Request Form 
or email LSA.Disability.Navigators@umich.edu.

Undergraduate Student Employees

For work-related accommodations, undergraduate student employees should contact the LSA Disability Navigators. Academic accommodations are provided by Services for Students with Disabilities. Assistance with career-related questions, such as how to disclose a disability during the job search process, can be directed to the University Career Center.

Graduate Student Employees 

For work-related accommodations, graduate student employees have two options:

  1. Contact the LSA Disability Navigators (the Administrative Designee for LSA GEO members) to learn about the request process, receive support, and be referred to the Rackham Process.
  2. Start the Rackham Process for Requesting Employment or Appointment Accommodations and direct questions to Elizabeth Rohr (erohr@umich.edu), the Rackham Wellbeing Advocate in the Office of Graduate Student and Program Consultation Services. 

Academic accommodations for graduate students are provided by Services for Students with Disabilities. Assistance with career-related questions, such as how to disclose a disability during the job search process, can be directed to the University Career Center.

Note: All LSA employees also have the option to request accommodations—or raise concerns about how accommodation requests are handled in LSA—through University of Michigan's ADA Director, Christina Kline (cdtkline@umich.edu or 734-763-0235).

The Interactive Process

Once the Disability Navigators receive an accommodations request, we will start the "interactive process" with the employee. The components of the interactive process are outlined below as a general guide. The process may not be linear (for example, if initial accommodations do not work well we may have to do more information gathering before identifying alternative accommodations).

There is no standard set of accommodations for a specific disability. Disability is complex and the way individuals experience and are impacted by disability varies. In addition, there are many different types of work performed at U-M. Reasonable accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis.

Intake Meeting

The Disability Navigators meet with the employee to learn about how their disability impacts them in the workplace with specific attention to barriers they are experiencing (such as issues with the work environment, how their work is done, or specific job tasks). This phase may include a tour of their workspaces. The Navigators may also request supporting documentation (refer to the Medical Documentation section below).

Identification of Reasonable Accommodations

To identify appropriate accommodations and provide the employee with requested support, the Disability Navigators may make referrals to or consult with experts in partner offices. Partner offices include, but are not limited to: the ADA Coordinators, the U-M ergonomics programs, the Faculty and Staff Counseling and Consultation Office, LSA Technology Services, LSA Facilities & Operations, Human Resources, and Work Connections. Learn more in the Campus Partners section below.

The Disability Navigators will only share personal information on a need-to-know basis with campus partners. For example, if an employee has a migraine condition and needs the lights over their workspace dimmed, they may ask LSA Facilities to visit the employee in the workspace to determine the amount of dimming required and the best way to accomplish dimming. The Disability Navigators would not share the employee's diagnosis, just the need. The Disability Navigators will notify employees any time they plan to engage a campus partner. 

The Disability Navigators may also consult with an employee's supervisor or department to verify that reccommended accommodations are reasonable given the employee's particular workspace and job tasks. Accommodations may be considered unreasonable if they: (1) would impose an undue burden, (2) would pose a direct threat to health or safety or (3) would require the modification of essential functions of a job or fundamental requirements of a program.

Review of Potential Accommodations

After gathering needed information and input from campus partners, recommended accommodations will be reviewed with the employee. Employees are not obligated, or required, to accept an accommodation that has been offered. An employee can reject an accommodation or request to explore alternative accommodations as part of the interactive process.

Implementation

The Disability Navigators will oversee the implementation of reasonable accommodations accepted by the employee. If the employee has questions about the status of an accommodation, they can check in with the Disability Navigators at any time.

Follow Up

Following implementation, employees can reach out to the Disability Navigators at any time with updates about the effectiveness of provided accommodations. Although not required by the ADA, the Disability Navigators will also follow up with employees after some time has passed to ask how accommodations are working out.

Medical Documentation

Employees may be asked to provide medical documentation that sufficiently describes: (1) the disability (2) any restrictions, limitations, or barriers the employee may experience as a result of the disability, and (3) any accommodation suggestions the medical provider may have.

Medical documentation received will be kept in a secure file that is separate from the employee’s personnel records. As noted above, we will only share personal information with campus partners on a "need-to-know" basis to enable them to adequately support the accommodation process and employee. This does not prevent employees with disabilities from self-disclosing information about their disability or accommodations if they so desire.

Additional Resources

U-M's Equity, Civil Rights & Title IX (ECRT) Office provides additional details on the ADA Interactive Process, including what to disclose, confidentiality, and how to decline or request different accommodations. 

The Job Accommodation Network offers an accommodation request letter template and accommodation examples by disability.

Funding for Workplace Accommodations

The new LSA Central Accommodations Fund will cover costs associated with approved employee disability accommodations.

Funding for new accommodations:

  • Employees seeking new accommodations through the interactive process with the LSA Disability Navigators or ADA Coordinators will have funding allocated toward accommodation expenses as part of the process.

Funding for existing accommodations:

  • Costs for accommodations reviewed and approved by the ADA Coordinators or MHealthy Medical Ergonomics Program can be transferred to the LSA Central Accommodations Fund, except in cases where the employee indicates the accommodations have not been effective. In these instances, the Disability Navigators will explore alternative accommodations with the employee.
  • Accommodations approved by any other office or individual may be reviewed by the Disability Navigators prior to transferring costs to the LSA Central Accommodations Fund. Any review will be to ensure the accommodations provided are reasonable, effective, and tap into internal resources where available.

To discuss how to shift existing accommodation expenses to the LSA Central Accommodations Fund, contact the LSA Disability Navigators.

Service Animals

Service animals may be used by individuals with disabilities in order to participate in or gain access to programs, benefits, employment, or services at the University of Michigan. 

Service animals are specifically defined as a dog or a miniature horse that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. A service animal does not need to have any specific identification, such as a vest or collar, and there are no restrictions on the breed of dog or miniature horse that can qualify as a service animal.

Do not interact with service animals while they are working and do not ask accompanied individuals why they use a service animal.

Visit the Equity, Civil Rights & Title IX Office Disability & Accessibility webpage (scroll to bottom) to learn more about:

  • Service animals as accommodations
  • How to verify an animal is a service animal
  • Grounds to remove or exclude a service animal from a facility
  • The distinction between service animals and support animals

If an employee is concerned about being in the same workspace as a service animal accompanying another individual, please reach out to your LSA Human Resources representative for assistance. 

Disability-Related Leave

Disability-related leave options available to LSA employees vary based on a number of factors. Human Resources (HR) representatives can help you understand which types of leave are available and determine which leave option is most appropriate.

Identify the appropriate Human Resources contact for each type of employee using the drop-down sections below.

Staff

Staff should contact their designated LSA Staff HR Representative or Senior HR Representative to:

  • learn more about the different types of leave they are eligible for and the amount of time available under each leave type,
  • determine which type of leave is most appropriate based on your needs and work situation,
  • be referred to Work Connections (where appropriate), and
  • get help arranging leave with their department.

LSA HR representatives will coordinate with the Disability Navigators in cases where leave and return-to-work needs should be factored into disability accommodation plans.

Faculty

Academic Human Resources can assist with assessing faculty members' eligibility for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), referring faculty members to Work Connections (as appropriate), and arranging leave logistics with the faculty member's department.

LSA faculty members should contact Sascha Matish for assistance (amatish@umich.edu or 734-615-8412).

Lecturers (LEO members)

To request information about disability-related leave, lecturers should contact the LSA HR Senior Labor Relations Representative, Kamil Robakiewicz (kamil@umich.edu or 734-763-9841)

Graduate Student Employees

LSA Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) and Graduate Student Staff Assistants (GSSAs) should contact the LSA HR Senior Labor Relations Representative, Kamil Robakiewicz (kamil@umich.edu or 734-763-9841) for information about disability-related leave.

LSA Graduate Student Research Assistants (GSRAs) should review the Rackham Leave of Absence webpage and contact Rackham Graduate School directly (rackham.loa@umich.edu or 734-764-4400).

Campus Partners

Learn more about some of the offices we partner with on campus to provide accommodations and support to LSA employees with disabilities.

ADA Coordinators

The ADA Coordinators, situated in U-M's Equity, Civil Rights & Title IX Office, are the central contact point for disability information and resources. The ADA Coordinators provide consultation on accommodations and ADA/Section 504 compliance, offer training on disability-related topics, and provide conflict prevention/resolution in situations involving disability issues.

Contact:

Christina Kline, ADA Director & Coordinator (cdtkline@umich.edu) 

Megan Marshall, Deputy ADA Coordinator (megmarsh@umich.edu) 

(734) 763-0235

Ergonomics Programs

U-M's ergonomics programs aim to address physical discomfort or ergonomic challenges employees are experiencing in the workplace. There are two free ergonomics programs available to U-M employees:

  1. Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) Ergonomics: Offers free preventative ergonomics consultations to any U-M employee seeking to optimize their ergonomics or alleviate physical discomfort at work. Does not require a physician referral.  
  2. MHealthy Medical Ergonomics Program: Free consultation available to U-M employees with a disability or medical condition. Assists with identifying tools, equipment, and strategies to align employee abilities with job functions and work environments. Requires a physician referral. The Disability Navigators may refer employees to MHealthy Medical Ergonomics to explore assistive technologies, ergonomic furniture, adapted work strategies, etc.

The Disability Navigators manage logistics and cover costs for equipment purchases, installations, and workspace modifications recommended as a result of EHS and MHealthy Medical ergonomic evaluations. Contact the Disability Navigators for more information.

Faculty and Staff Counseling and Consultation Office

The Faculty and Staff Counseling and Consultation Office (FASCCO) provides confidential support and assistance to university staff and faculty in resolving personal or work-related concerns. All active or retired faculty and staff (including temporaries) are eligible to use FASCCO services, as well as their immediate (benefit-eligible) adult family members and there is no charge to those eligible.

The Disability Navigators may refer employees seeking mental and emotional health support to FASCCO for assistance.

Human Resources

Human Resources (HR) may provide assistance with disability-related leave, workplace relationship management, performance plans, and more!

In cases where an employee with a disability would benefit from these types of support, the Disability Navigators may connect them with the appropriate HR representative.

 

LSA Facilities & Operations

LSA Facilities & Operations may assist the Disability Navigators with employee accommodations in the following ways:

  • Procuring and installling recommended furniture and equipment
  • Providing technical guidance on physical modifications to workspaces
  • Implementing physical modifications to workspaces and buildings to make them accessible
  • Arranging furniture and equipment in LSA conference spaces to be accessible
  • Identifying appropriate classrooms for instructors with physical accessibility needs

LSA Technology Services

LSA Technology Services may assist the Disability Navigators with employee accommodations in the following ways:

  • Procuring IT hardware and software and managing installation
  • Guiding employees on how to use IT hardware and software
  • Troubleshooting compatibility issues between assistive technologies and software/devices
  • Setting up assistive IT equipment in classrooms or meeting spaces
  • Remediating digital content to be accessible to assistive technologies
  • Identifying appropriate classrooms for instructors with IT-related accessibility needs

Rackham Graduate Student & Program Consultation Services

Graduate Student Employees with disabilities seeking employment-related accommodations use the Rackham Process for Requesting Employment or Appointment Accommodations.

Once reasonable accommodations are identified, Rackham's Graduate Student and Program Consultation Services Office and the LSA Disability Navigators coordinate to implement accommodations for LSA Graduate Student Employees.

We also participate in campus disability meetings with Rackham to understand issues impacting graduate student employees with disabilities, hear about support initiatives, and collaborate on solutions.

Services for Students with Disabilities

The Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) Office provides academic accommodations for undergraduate and graduate students. The Disability Navigators meet regularly with SSD to understand the services and supports they offer to make appropriate referrals and share information with faculty and staff instructors.

Students registered with SSD can also receive access to:

  1. The Knox Center, which provides specialized computing equipment, assistive technology evaluations, and a quiet environment. Sites public computers are located throughout campus and provide some assistive software. Contact Sites.Knox@umich.edu for more information.
  2. The two Testing Accommodation Centers (TACs) on campus. Before scheduling with the TAC, students must communicate with their instructors. Students use the new Accommodate system to schedule exams. TAC questions can be directed to saas.tac.staff@umich.edu or 734-763-1334.

SSD is one unit within the broader Student Accessibility and Accommodation Services (SAAS) at U-M. Refer to the SAAS Quick Info Guide for a complete list of services.

Information for Instructors

Students now use the Accommodate system to request accommodations, schedule meetings with SSD Coordinators, communicate approved accommodations to instructors, request course materials in alternative formats, and schedule exams at the TACs. LSA faculty members, lecturers, and instructional staff who teach students registered with SSD will also need to use Accommodate and should refer to the instructor guide to Accommodate to learn more. 

Instructors can work with SSD to ensure textbooks and other course materials are available in accessible formats. Contact ssdoffice@umich.edu for support.

The Disability Navigators encourage all instructional employees to include a disability statement in course syllabi so students know how to access academic accommodations.

Work Connections

Work Connections oversees certain leave programs and return-to-work plans. Work Connections coordinates with medical practitioners to verify eligibility for leave, determine leave timelines, and identify work-related restrictions upon return to work. 

For LSA employees, Work Connections manages:

  1. Workers' Compensation claims for work-related illnesses and injuries.
  2. Long-Term Disability claims. 
  3. Medical leave in cases where an employee takes more than 10 consecutive work days off due to any injury, illness, or medical procedure.

Work Connections does not provide ADA-related accommodations. However, if Work Connections informs a department that an employee has been released for return to work with restrictions in either job tasks or work hours, that information constitutes a request for an accommodation on the employee's behalf. For example, if an employee can not work seated for more than 30 minutes at a time (a restriction) they may need an adjustable height desk to switch between seated and standing work (an accommodation). 

Reasonable accommodations to support an employee's return to work will be determined through the interactive process outlined above.

Contact: Claims are opened with Work Connections via intake forms. Contact your LSA HR representative before contacting Work Connections to ensure you submit the correct forms.

Data on Disability & Accommodations in LSA

Contact the LSA Disability Navigators

Scheduled in-person and virtual appointments are available by request. Drop-in appointments are not being offered at this time.

Complete the Disability Navigators Meeting Request Form

Email: LSA.Disability.Navigators@umich.edu

Primary Office: 555 S. Forest Avenue, Suite 306, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Secondary Office: LSA Chemistry Building, 930 N. University Avenue, Suite 1547, Ann Arbor, MI 48109