Workplace Accommodations for Staff and Faculty

Beginning Summer 2018, the Accessible Workplace unit within the Office of Human Resources has taken over responsibility for administering reasonable workplace accommodations for faculty and staff, including graduate and undergraduate workers.

Employees seeking employment-related accommodations should contact Lori Corcoran, Accessible Workplace Manager, to arrange an intake meeting.  As part of the intake process, employees are encouraged to submit a Reasonable Accommodation Request Form in advance of their first meeting.

Faculty and Staff transitioning back to work from a medical leave of absence

Employees seeking employment-related accommodations upon returning to work from a leave of absence in which the paperwork states long-term restrictions greater than six (6) months should follow the process noted above for a reasonable accommodation.   

Graduate and Undergraduate Workers

Students frequently have accommodation needs that span both their work and academic lives.  HR will partner with the Office of Disability Services to ensure appropriate support to graduate and undergraduate employees. 

Accommodation Request Form

Reasonable Accommodation Request Form (DOC) (Completed forms can be emailed to accessibleworkplace@umass.edu or faxed to 413-545-0483.)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Reasonable Accommodation Process?

The reasonable accommodation process is an interactive process where qualified individuals with disabilities can seek accommodations which allow them to do the essential functions of their job.  The process is interactive, meaning both the employee and supervisor will have an opportunity to provide input on what accommodations are reasonable in a given situation.  Because the process is interactive, HR will determine whether an accommodation is reasonable given the circumstances and an employee will not necessarily be granted the specific accommodation they are seeking if there are other reasonable accommodations available that accomplish the same goal.

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act, As Amended?

The Americans with Disabilities Act, As Amended (ADAAA) is a federal law that provides protections for individuals with disabilities in the areas of employment, public access, and housing.  In the employment context, the ADAAA requires employers (such as UMass Amherst) to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities in order that they can do the essential functions of their job.

How does the ADAAA define disability?

A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

  • An impairment includes any physiological disorder or condition; or any mental or psychological disorder such as an intellectual disability, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.
  • Major life activity refers to activities that an average person can perform including, but not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, communicating, or interacting with others.

What is the definition of accommodation?

An accommodation is any change in the work environment (or in the way things are usually done) to help a person with a disability apply for a job, perform the essential duties of the job, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment.  The elimination of an essential function of a position is not a reasonable accommodation.

What does it mean to have “sufficient and reasonable” medical documentation?

Sufficient and reasonable medical documentation:

  • Describes the nature, severity, and duration of your disability, the activity(s) that the disability limits, and the extent to which the disability limits your ability to perform the activity(s);
  • Substantiates why the requested reasonable accommodation is needed;
  • Is provided by a healthcare provider qualified to diagnose in the appropriate area of specialization; 
  • Is on letterhead, typed, dated, signed, and otherwise legible; and
  • Is based on a current evaluation (usually within three months).

What type of healthcare provider can provide documentation?

Under federal regulations, a “healthcare provider” is defines as a doctor of medicine or osteopathy, podiatrist, dentist, chiropractor, clinical psychologist, optometrist, nurse practitioner, nurse-midwife, or a clinical licensed social worker, or a Christian Science practitioner.

Will my medical documentation be shared with my supervisor?

No.  Medical documentation provided to HR as part of the accommodation process is not shared with supervisors.  Additionally, HR will not share a specific diagnosis.  However, HR will share information related to accommodation needs so that the supervisor can be an active participant in the accommodation process.  For example, HR may tell a supervisor that an employee has a medical condition which limits their ability to remain seated for more than an hour at a time.