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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 equal access and opportunity to participate. Examples of accommodations could be allowing someone with a seizure disorder to bring their service dog to an event where animals are not otherwise allowed or installing office signage with large, high contrast print and Braille included for a staff member experiencing vision loss.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (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.

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

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 and invisible 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

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. 

How to Request Accommodations

The LSA Disability Navigators are working to streamline the accommodations request process. Current processes are outlined below. Please contact the LSA Disability Navigators or U-M ADA Coordinators if you have questions or concerns about requesting accommodations through the identified channels (contact information below).

U-M's Equity, Civil Rights & Title IX Office has details on the ADA Interactive Process, including Frequently Asked ADA Questions that cover 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.

LSA graduate student employees should contact Darlene Ray-Johnson (rayj@umich.edu) to request employment or appointment accommodations. Academic accommodations are provided by Services for Students with Disabilities.

LSA faculty and lecturers may contact their Department Chair or Chief Administrator to request disability-related accommodations.

LSA staff may contact their supervisor, manager, or HR representative to request disability-related accommodations.

Information about disability-related leave is covered in the Human Resources and Work Connections sections below.

How to Provide Accommodations

Departments are legally required to engage in the interactive process with job applicants and employees to identify reasonable accommodations that will effectively enable the individual to participate in the hiring process or perform the essential functions of their job. 

When you receive a request for accommodations, reach out to the LSA Disability Navigators, LSA HR, or the ADA Coordinator for guidance (contact information below).

Important notes:

  • Information an employee discloses about a disability as part of an accommodation request process must be kept confidential with few exceptions. Learn more about confidentiality requirements in the ADA Compliance Training for U-M Managers and Supervisors (refer to slides 19 & 20).
  • Any medical documentation provided by the employee to support their request must be stored securely and separately from their other personnel files.
  • LSA units are responsible for covering the cost of most accommodations. Facility modifications required as part of an individual's ADA accommodations are covered by a central fund and some furniture is available through LSA Facilities and Operations (contact your LSA Facilities Building Manager for more information).

Assistance with Disability-Related Accommodations & Leave

If you are an LSA employee who requires assistance with disability-related leave and/or accommodations, the best place to start is with the LSA Disability Navigators. 

There are many offices at U-M that assist LSA employees with accommodations and leave covered by the ADA. Each office is specialized and the offices often coordinate to meet the range of disability-related needs an individual may have. We can ensure you are referred to the offices and resources that will best meet your unique needs.

LSA Disability Navigators

The LSA Disability Navigators offer consultations to LSA supervisors and employees to provide recommendations related to accessibility and accommodations as well as referrals to appropriate campus offices and resources.

In cases where the workplace experience for employees with disabilities is affected by factors beyond accessibility and accommodation needs, we will ensure you are routed to the U-M office that handles those issues. 

Contact: Jessica McCuaig & Lloyd Shelton (LSA.Disability.Navigators@umich.edu) or complete the LSA Disability Navigators Meeting Request Form.

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

Human Resources

Staff

Staff members' designated LSA Staff HR Representative or Senior HR Representative can provide more information about the accommodation process and can receive disability-related accommodation requests. In addition, HR can assess the time you have available for leave, your eligibility for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and can help you work with your department to arrange leave.

Faculty Members

Academic Human Resources can assist with assessing faculty members' eligibility for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and arranging leave with your department. LSA faculty members should contact Sascha Matish for assistance (amatish@umich.edu or 734-615-8412).

Lecturers

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

To request information about disability-related leave:

  • 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).
  • 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).

 

Rackham - Assistance for Graduate Student Employees

Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) & Graduate Student Staff Assistants (GSSAs)

GSI and GSSA access to accommodations and disability-related leave is determined by the Graduate Employees' Organization (GEO) contract with the University of Michigan. To request accommodations, GSIs and GSSAs need to go through the Rackham Accommodation Process. For information about disability-related leave, GSIs and GSSAs should contact the LSA HR Senior Labor Relations Representative, Kamil Robakiewicz (kamil@umich.edu or 734-763-9841).

Graduate Student Research Assistants (GSRAs)

To request accommodations, GSRAs should go through the Rackham Accommodation Process. For information about disability-related leave, GSRAs should review the Rackham Leave of Absence webpage and contact Rackham Graduate School directly (rackham.loa@umich.edu or 734-764-4400).

Note: All graduate student employees can contact the University of Michigan's ADA Coordinator, Christina Kline (cdtkline@umich.edu or 734-763-0235), if they have questions or concerns about their request for disability-related accommodations or leave. 

Services for Students with Disabilities

The Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) Office provides academic accommodations for undergraduate and graduate students.

Students registered with SSD also receive access to 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.

LSA faculty members, lecturers, and instructional staff who teach students registered with SSD will receive notification of approved accommodations from SSD and can work with the office to ensure textbooks and other course materials are available in accessible formats. We encourage all teaching employees to include a disability statement in course syllabi so students know how to access academic accommodations.

MHealthy Ergonomics

MHealthy Ergonomics offers two distinct services:

  1. MHealthy's Preventative Ergonomics Consultations are available to any U-M employee without a physician referral.  
  2. MHealthy's Medical Ergonomics Program requires a physician referral and is available to U-M employees experiencing discomfort or ergonomic challenges at work related to a disability or medical condition. Medical Ergonomics Program staff consult with Knox Center assistive technology specialists when appropriate.

Contact: Cindy Zielinski, Occupational Therapy Supervisor (czi@med.umich.edu)

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). Refer to "How to Provide Accommodations" above for additional guidance.

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.

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