What is a “major life activity” under the law?
To be considered a person with a disability, the impairment must substantially limit one or more major life activities. Examples of major life activities include walking, speaking, breathing, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, learning, and caring for oneself.
What does “qualified” mean?
To be protected, a person must not only be an individual with a disability but must be qualified. For students, a qualified individual with a disability is a person who, with or without reasonable modifications to rules, policies, or practices; the removal of architectural, communication, or transportation barriers; or the provision of auxiliary aids or services, meets the essential requirements for the receipt of services or participation in programs or activities provided by the University.
For university employees, a qualified individual with a disability is a person who satisfies the requisite skill, experience, education, and other job-related requirements of the employment position and who, with or without a reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job.
What is a reasonable accommodation?
For University Students
A reasonable accommodation is a reasonable modification in policies, practices, or procedures when the modification is necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability unless the modification would fundamentally alter the nature of a University service, program, or activity.
If you are a University student and need a reasonable accommodation, you should contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC). Associate Dean of Students and Director Dr. David Beach and the DRC staff are available to answer questions, review medical documentation, and arrange services for all qualified students admitted to the University.
Disability Resource Center
Multidisciplinary Science Building, Suite 407
725 Rose Street
Lexington, KY 40536-0082
For University employees
A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job, employment practice, or the work environment that makes it possible for a qualified individual with a disability to enjoy an equal employment opportunity. The University will provide a reasonable accommodation to the known disability of a qualified applicant or employee with a disability unless the accommodation imposes an undue hardship.
If you are a qualified University faculty member or staff employee with a disability, you may request a reasonable accommodation from your supervisor, chair, dean, or Institutional Equity by completing a Request for a Reasonable Accommodation Form. When the disability is not obvious, you may be asked to submit sufficient medical documentation. Your provider may fill out the Medical Inquiry Form and provide your Reasonable Accommodation Form as sufficient medical documentation. You may also contact the office:
Office of Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity
18th Floor, Patterson Office Tower
Lexington, KY 40506-0027
Applicants for Employment
If you are interested in employment opportunities at the University and require reasonable accommodation during the application process, contact Human Resources at (859) 257-9555.
When and how does the University provide reasonable accommodations?
The University is obligated to make a reasonable accommodation only to the known disability of an otherwise qualified employee or student. In general, it is the responsibility of the employee or student to make the disability status and subsequent need for an accommodation known to the appropriate university official.
Once on notice of the need for accommodations, the University official and the individual with a disability are responsible for discussing possible accommodations and assessing the reasonableness and effectiveness of each potential accommodation.
Accommodations on campus are determined on a case-by-case basis. Determining a reasonable accommodation is very fact-specific. In general, the accommodation must be tailored to address the nature of the disability and the needs of the individual within the context of the job requirements or the program of study. If there are two or more possible accommodations, and one costs more or is more burdensome than the other, the University will give primary consideration to the preference of the individual with a disability; however, the University may choose the less expensive or burdensome accommodation as long as it is effective.
Service Animals and the ADA
The ADA defines a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. Service animals are working animals, not pets, and the work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.
Only limited inquiries are allowed when it is not obvious what service an animal provides. Staff may ask two questions:
- Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and
- What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.
Where to go for Help
Please contact Institutional Equity if you have questions about your rights under the ADA, whether you are a qualified individual with a disability, or the documentation required to establish that status. Individuals, supervisors, or an individual with their supervisor may schedule an appointment to determine eligibility and reasonable, effective accommodation(s) that would enable the individual to perform the essential functions of their position successfully.
Individuals requesting accommodation may be required to provide medical documentation regarding the disability and requested accommodation. The medical information provided will be maintained in Institutional Equity, separate from personnel files, and is strictly confidential. Institutional Equity will only release information related to providing reasonable accommodation or information necessary to address safety issues in the work setting to supervisors.
If students, employees, or visitors to the University need accommodations to participate in University programs (outside of academics) or activities, they would reach out to Institutional Equity at (859) 257-8927.