The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is a wide-ranging piece of legislation that offers a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Wittenberg University, in accordance with the ADA, reaffirms its mission to develop a living and working environment for a diverse community of students, faculty and staff. Committed to providing equal access to facilities and reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, the university will continue to develop and coordinate policies and procedures, and provide services in employment, academic programs and co-curricular activities.
I. A Brief Overview of the Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted to protect individuals with disabilities against discrimination in such critical areas as employment, housing, public accommodations, education, transportation, communication, health services and access to public services.
Title I of the ADA prohibits employment discrimination against the disabled and requires organizations to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities in all aspects of employment, including the application process, hiring, wages and benefits. Title III of the ADA extends the nondiscrimination policy beyond the employment context to the broader range of facility and program accessibility.
The ADA's protection applies primarily, but not exclusively, to "disabled" individuals. An individual is "disabled" if he or she meets at least any one of the following criteria:
He or she is substantially impaired with respect to a major life activity.
He or she has a record of such an impairment.
He or she is regarded as having such impairment.
Other individuals who are protected in certain circumstances include: 1) those, such as parents, who have an association with an individual known to have a disability, and 2) those who are subjected to retaliation for assisting people with disabilities in asserting their rights under the ADA.
II. Rights and Responsibilities
Individuals with disabilities at the university have the right to:
Equal access to courses, programs, services, jobs and activities offered through the university, as well as to its facilities;
An equal opportunity to work and to learn, and to receive reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments and/or auxiliary aids and services;
Appropriate confidentiality of all information regarding their disability and the right to choose to whom, outside of the university, information about their disability will be disclosed, except as disclosures are required or permitted by law.
Individuals with disabilities at the university have the responsibility to:
Meet qualifications and maintain essential institutional standards for courses, programs, services, jobs, activities and facilities;
Identify oneself as an individual with a disability when a particular accommodation is needed and to seek information, counsel and assistance as necessary;
Demonstrate and/or document (from a recognized professional) how the disability limits their participation in programs, services, jobs, and activities and access to facilities.
All members of the Wittenberg community have the responsibility to:
Respect the independence, rights and dignity of people with disabilities.
III. Making an Accommodation Request
The university's process for making accommodations is determined on a case-by-case basis through a structured assessment system centralized in the Department of Human Resources. In general, the term "accommodation" means any change in the work environment or the way things are customarily done that enables an otherwise qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of a job and enjoy the same employment opportunities as employees without disabilities. Neither the ADA nor the regulations specifically define what constitutes a "reasonable accommodation." Rather, the ADA provides a list of possible accommodations such as:
• modifications of schedules;
• reassignment to a vacant position;
• acquisition or modification of equipment or devices;
• reserved parking spaces;
• usage of accrued paid leave or additional unpaid leave for necessary treatment.
Requests for an accommodation should be made simultaneously to your immediate supervisor and to the director of human resources. Once a supervisor is made aware of the possible need for an accommodation, it is incumbent upon that supervisor to advise and to work in consultation with the director of human resources.
In accordance with EEOC recommendations, the assessment includes:
• Analyzing the particular job (purpose and essential functions);
• Consulting with the individual with the disability about how limitations to his or her ability to perform essential job functions could be overcome with accommodations;
• Identifying potential accommodations;
• Considering the preference of the individual;
• Selecting the accommodation that is most appropriate for both the faculty or staff member and the university.
Whether a proposed accommodation is reasonable is decided on a case-by-case basis. The university maintains the right to select from equally effective accommodations, adjustments, and/or auxiliary aids and services, as well as to refuse an unreasonable accommodation, adjustment, and/or auxiliary aid and service that imposes a fundamental alteration on a program or activity of the university. The assessment generally requires the requesting employee or student to provide current documentation that supports his or her request for accommodation.