The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Accessible Workplace

Please feel free to email accessibleworkplace@umass.edu if you have questions about an existing accommodation or to inquire about requesting a new one. Our ADA team is ready to support you!

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. Employees seeking employment-related accommodations should email accessibleworkplace@umass.edu, 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.

COVID-19 Accommodation

Individuals seeking special accommodation because they believe they are at a higher risk for COVID-19 should contact the Office of Human Resources (OHR) by calling 413-687-2283 or emailing Covid19HR@umass.edu. Individuals in mandatory quarantine, older adults, or those with medical conditions making them more susceptible to COVID-19 may request alternative work assignments through the Office of Human Resources by calling 413-687-2283 or emailing Covid19HR@umass.edu. OHR will discuss potential remote work assignments with the individual’s supervisor. If alternative work assignments are not feasible, the employee should use available accrued leave, in the following order, to stay in pay status: (1) sick leave; (2) personal leave; (3) vacation leave. For more information please visit the UMass Amherst Response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) page.

Accessible Workplace Accommodation Request Form

Reasonable Accommodation Request Form (PDF) Completed forms can be emailed to accessibleworkplace@umass.edu or faxed to 413-545-0802

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.    

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.

Accessibility at UMass Amherst

UMass Amherst is fully committed to providing full and equal access to information and services for all current and potential members of our community. We embrace disability as a natural part of diversity and seek to build capacity to appreciate and value individual differences, including differences in ability, to create inclusive community. In addition to providing support and accommodations for faculty and staff through the Accessible Workplace Office, UMass Amherst offers accessibility support and assistance for the entire UMass Amherst community. These additional campus resources can be found at: Accessibility at UMass Amherst.

Accessible Workplace Contact Information:

The Accessible Workplace Office
Bartlett Hall Room 225
130 Hicks Way, Amherst, MA 01003
E-mail: accessibleworkplace@umass.edu
Phone: 413-545-3464
Fax: 413-545-0802