In this section

Disability & Accessibility

If you believe you are experiencing disability discrimination or harassment, you are encouraged to contact the appropriate university official (dean, director, HR Representative, etc.) and/or the Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office.

Contact the ECRT ADA Team

Disability and Accessibility Resources

ADA Coordinator

Provides the following services to all community members and visitors on all three university campuses:

  • Consultation regarding ADA/Section 504 compliance questions, including accommodation requests, accessibility concerns or other disability-related matters.
  • Training/educational programs on disability-related topics.
  • Conflict prevention/resolution in situations involving disability issues.
  • Central contact point for disability information and resources available at the university.

Christina Kline
Director of ADA and ADA Coordinator
cdtkline@umich.edu

Megan Marshall
Deputy ADA Coordinator
megmarsh@umich.edu

Digital/Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility

Accessible technology is imperative in order to ensure individuals with disabilities have full and equitable access to the wide array of digital resources, including websites, videos and virtual meeting platforms. Resources to assist with digital accessibility efforts can be found at accessibility.umich.edu. In addition, the Digital Information Accessibility Coordinator with ECRT can provide assistance and support.

Phil Deaton
Digital Information Accessibility Coordinator
pdeaton@umich.edu

Other Disability-Related Resources

While you are encouraged to contact ECRT if you would like assistance or guidance with ADA or disability-related questions or concerns, you can also visit disability.umich.edu for other useful disability information and resources at the university.

This directory provides general accessibility information, as well as information of particular interest to students, faculty, staff, patients, and others. Local, state and national disability resources are also included.

Student Academic Accommodations

Students wishing to receive academic disability services and accommodations must register with the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD). For more information, please contact SSD or visit their website.

Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD)
G-664 Haven Hall
505 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1045
Phone: (734) 763-3000
Fax: (734) 936-3947
Email: ssdoffice@umich.edu

Graduate Student Employment Accommodations

Graduate student employees may also require accommodations for their employment. The university has created a centralized, designated unit, managed by the Graduate Student and Program Consultation Services office, to assist with these requests. In addition, each unit has an Administrative Designee who can help graduate student employees access the appropriate resources and processes.

For more information, please visit Rackham’s Graduate Student Employee Accommodation Process website.

Our team is here to help inform individuals of the various processes, supports, and options that exist, including how to request accommodations.

The university’s Standard Practice Guideline 201.82 EEO Affirmative Action Policy for Individuals with Disabilities states: “The university will provide reasonable accommodation to employees with known disabilities, if that is needed to enable them to perform their essential job duties.” This responsibility to provide reasonable accommodations through an interactive process extends to qualified faculty, staff and applicants with disabilities.

The information found on this website is intended to provide some initial clarification and guidance on the interactive process as well as other ADA-related topics. For more information on your particular question or concern, please contact ECRT’s ADA Team.

Overview of ADA

To whom does the ADA apply?

The ADA applies to any qualified individual with a disability. This includes patients, visitors, students, faculty, staff, and applicants. This section will primarily focus on employment-related accommodation requests. However, the ECRT ADA Team is also available to discuss accommodation requests in other contexts.

Who is qualified?

The university’s responsibility to provide reasonable accommodations only applies to “qualified” individuals with disabilities.

To be considered “qualified” under the ADA, the individual must be someone: (1) who satisfies the skill, experience, education and other job-related requirements of the program or employment position, and (2) who, with or without a reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the position or program.

What is an essential function?

Essential job functions are the necessary job duties that a faculty or staff member is expected to perform in their role at the university. Removing any of them would result in a fundamental change to the position. Essential functions might also change over the course of employment as well.

Any non-essential job functions are considered “marginal functions.” These duties may be marginal due to the fact that they are not performed as often or are not critical to the reason the job exists. While the university need not remove essential functions as an accommodation, marginal functions may be altered, removed or assigned to another individual as a potential accommodation.

What is considered a “disability” under the ADA?

The determination of whether an individual has a disability under the ADA is made on a case-by-case basis.

Under applicable disability laws, an individual with a disability is a person who:

  • has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
  • has a record of such an impairment; or
  • is regarded as having such an impairment. (Where an individual is “regarded as” having a disability, the individual may not be able to request an accommodation under the ADA. An individual is entitled to reasonable accommodations where they demonstrate an “actual disability” or “record of” a disability under the first two categories.)

Requesting Accommodations

The university will provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities. Any request for a reasonable accommodations from a university faculty or staff member is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. An individual wishing to request accommodations must engage in the “interactive process” with the university to determine what, if any, reasonable accommodations will be provided. For help with navigating this process, please contact the ECRT ADA Team.

What is an Accommodation?

An accommodation is any modification to policy, practice, the environment, a job, a program or other resource to ensure an individual with a disability has equitable access.

Some examples of potential employment accommodations might include:

  • Providing equipment to perform certain tasks;
  • Modifying an employee’s workstation or work location;
  • Providing adaptive technology to allow access to digital information;
  • Modifying supervisory style or communication methods; or
  • Granting leave.
Requesting Accommodations or Disclosing a Disability

An individual wishing to request an accommodation is responsible for making this request. While they need not use any specific language or submit the request in writing, they must provide sufficient information to the university indicating a disability-related accommodation is being requested.

Anyone wishing to request an accommodation may contact the ADA Coordinator in the ECRT Office.

For employment accommodations, faculty and staff may contact their supervisor, manager or HR representative to make the request.

For academic accommodations, students may contact the Services for Students with Disabilities Office (SSD).

Engaging in the Interactive Process

Upon receiving a request for accommodations, the university is encouraged to promptly engage in the interactive process with the requesting individual.

One of the primary steps in this process is communicating with the individual to understand any barriers they may be experiencing (such as issues with the environment, how the work is done or specific tasks that are required), as well as identifying potential reasonable accommodations or accommodation alternatives that may be effective to address the barriers described.

In addition to discussing any barriers or accommodation suggestions, individuals may be asked to provide medical documentation that provides sufficient support for: (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 health care provider may have.

For employment accommodations, if the faculty or staff member is asked to provide medical documentation, this documentation can be provided directly to their supervisor, manager, HR representative or the ECRT ADA Team. Any medical documentation received will be kept in a secure file that is separate from the faculty or staff member’s personnel records.

In addition, if a faculty or staff member is on leave for more than 10 days, then the employee will be eligible to open a claim with Work Connections. Work Connections provides assistance through faculty and staff recovery from conditions that result in leave and helps facilitate their return to work. Through this process, Work Connections can collect the faculty or staff member’s medical documentation and will communicate only what their supervisor/manager/HR representative needs to know in order to begin the interactive process and explore possible accommodations.

Determining if an Accommodation is Reasonable

The university is responsible for providing reasonable accommodations. If a particular accommodation is considered unreasonable, an alternative accommodation may be considered.

In addition, the university may explore alternate accommodations with faculty and staff. These accommodations may be different than the accommodations suggested or preferred by the faculty or staff member; however, such alternatives may be offered so long as they are effective.

An accommodation might be considered unreasonable if: (1) it 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.

Declining Accommodations

Individuals are not obligated, or required, to accept an accommodation that has been offered by the university.

If a reasonable and effective accommodation is declined, employees are still responsible for their work performance and conduct. Should the work performance or conduct decline or become unsatisfactory, the university may address the issue through performance evaluations, discipline, and other avenues as it would with any other faculty or staff member in that situation.

Also, if the university offers a reasonable and effective accommodation and it is declined, the university may not be obligated to offer a different accommodation or an employee’s preferred accommodation.

Assistance with the Interactive Process

Anyone needing assistance with requests for accommodations, including employees, students, visitors, managers and HR representatives, are encouraged to contact the ECRT ADA Team. We can help facilitate the process and answer questions about your specific situation.

Whether, When, and What to Disclose

It is entirely up to an individual with a disability whether, when or how they disclose their disability. However, in order to request an accommodation, enough information must be provided to the university regarding the disability, how it impacts an individual’s work or participation, and what accommodations might be effective. Also, as part of the process for requesting accommodations, the university may ask an individual to provide medical documentation that shares information about the disability.

Similar to the decision to disclose a disability, the decision to request an accommodation is also entirely up to the disabled individual. Faculty and staff are never required or forced to request or accept accommodations. That being said, employees are encouraged to request accommodations before they experience any work performance problems if they are concerned that their disability might impact their performance.

Confidentiality

When someone requests an accommodation or submits medical documentation to the university, this information is kept private and confidential. Typically, any medical documentation will be kept in a secure file and the information will be kept separate from an employee’s personnel record. Also, the university will refrain from sharing information about medical or accommodation information; however, there may be limited instances when information sharing is appropriate. This will be done on a “need-to-know” basis. Some examples include:

  • Information about someone’s disability or accommodations may be made available to administrators who need to know the information in order to assess the reasonableness of the accommodation requested or to provide the accommodation;
  • Supervisors and managers may be informed about necessary restrictions on work or duties and necessary accommodations;
  • First aid and safety personnel may be informed, when appropriate, if someone might require emergency treatment or if any specific procedures are needed in the case of fire or other evacuations.

This does not prevent a disabled individual from self-disclosing information about their disability or accommodations if they so desire.

Specific Accommodations: Digital Accessibility

Digital accessibility involves designing, creating, and maintaining media, websites, applications, and documents so that they can be used by the broadest possible audience of people with disabilities, including by individuals who use assistive technology. Digital accessibility initiatives should be proactively implemented and address any individual requests for improvement by people with disabilities.

There are many ways individuals and units on campus can strive to provide a more digitally accessible experience. The university hosts an accessibility.umich.edu website which includes information related to policies, procedures, and practical guidance on how to meet our obligations related to digital/EIT accessibility.

Specific Accommodations: Service Animals

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

What is a Service Animal?

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. Service animals can be trained to perform a variety of different tasks or work to assist an individual with a disability (e.g., assisting with balance, providing navigation, detecting fluctuations in blood sugar, etc.). A service animal does not need to have any specific identification, such as a vest or collar. Moreover, there are no restrictions on the breed of dog or miniature horse that can qualify as a service animal.

Access Granted to Service Animals

Under the ADA, an individual who is accompanied by a service animal may not be excluded from an area where the public is generally allowed to go. While in these areas, the individual is solely responsible for taking care of the animal, including toileting and must maintain control of the animal at all times. The animal should be harnessed, leashed or tethered at all times, unless such a device would impact the animal’s ability to perform their task or work. In this case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice command.

Grounds to Exclude a Service Animal

While an individual may not be excluded from a space because they are accompanied by a service animal, there are some exceptions when an individual may be asked to remove the animal:

  • If the animal is out of control and the individual does not take immediate steps to control it.
  • If the animal is not housebroken.
  • If the presence of the animal would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others.

This assessment cannot be based on stereotypes or assumptions about the breed of the animal or individual, but must be based on observable facts and circumstances. For example, an animal that presents with rabies symptoms or displays aggressive behavior may be excluded as a direct threat to health or safety.

It is important to note that fear of dogs or allergies is NOT enough to exclude a service animal from a facility. If there are concerns about fear or allergies, departments should try to accommodate both parties as much as possible, with the understanding that the animal should not be removed unless one of the other exceptions applies.

If the disability is not apparent, or is it is not obvious what task or work the animal performs, then facility staff may ask two questions to determine whether the animal is a service animal:

  • Is the animal a service animal required because of a disability?
  • What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?

If the individual answers “no” to the first question or provides an answer that indicates that the animal does not perform a specific task or work in response to the second question, then the individual may be asked to return without the animal. If the individual answers “yes” to the first question and describes a specific task or work (that goes beyond providing support, comfort, distraction, etc.) which the animal is trained to perform, then the individual and animal should be granted access.

Staff may not ask to see special identification or documentation, that the animal demonstrate the task or work, or about the individual’s disability or require medical documentation.

Service Animals in Training

Michigan law provides service animals in training similar access to public spaces for the purpose of training or socializing the animal. As with service animals, a service animal in training may be removed from a space if they are out of control, not housebroken, pose a direct threat to health or safety, or would fundamentally alter the nature of the services provided in the space.

Other Types of Support Animals

Service animals are distinct from support animals (also known as “comfort animals” or “emotional support animals”). Support animals can be any type of animal, such as a dog, cat or rabbit. Support animals may be requested as an accommodation in housing units (e.g., residence halls) where the individual is a resident; however, public spaces such as dining halls, classrooms, museums, athletic facilities, etc., may ask that support animal not be brought into the facility.

For questions about requesting a support animal within University Housing facilities, please contact the Housing Information Office at (734) 763-3164 to obtain information on the review and approval processes that must be completed prior to bringing emotional support animals into any University Housing facility.

The Department of Justice provides additional information about service animals.