Section 2: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The workforce includes individuals who may face discrimination because their medical impairments are stigmatized or misunderstood. In 1990, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to provide equal opportunity for persons with disabilities and to dispel the myths, fears and stereotypes upon which discrimination is based. The ADA is complex but we will outline some of the basic concepts that are important for you to know. You are encouraged to contact the ADA Coordinator in the Equity, Civil Rights, and Title IX Office in any situation in which additional guidance would be helpful.

The ADA applies to individuals who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, have a record of such an impairment, or are regarded as having such an impairment. Major life activities include such functions as seeing, hearing, walking, sleeping, reading, thinking, concentrating, performing manual tasks, or interacting with others. As the previous discussion of mental illness indicates, mental illness frequently impairs one or more of these functions, especially functions like sleeping, thinking, concentrating and interacting with others.

In providing equal opportunity for qualified persons with disabilities, the ADA requires you to consider initiating “reasonable accommodations.” These are modifications or adjustments in the workplace or job that make it possible for an otherwise qualified person with a disability to perform the essential functions of the job. Because what is “reasonable” varies according to the nature of the workplace, the job and the disability, requests for accommodations must be considered on a case-by-case basis. The University ADA Coordinator can help you determine if a proposed accommodation is reasonable.

Once you have completed Section 2, continue on to Section 3.