Disability Definitions


Accessibility: the proactive practice of providing access to information, activities, or environments in a way which is inclusive, equivalent, meaningful, and usable for as many people as possible, including people with disabilities.

Accommodations:  individualized changes provided reactively upon request to ensure access for an individual with a disability to fully participate. Accommodations include appropriate academic adjustments, auxiliary aids/services, modifications to policies/procedures, and reasonable workplace accommodation

  • Academic adjustments: adjustments or modifications in how students participate in or complete academic courses and programs. Academic adjustments assist students in meeting essential requirements and standards, but do not change them.
    • Example: Providing a student with extended test time on a timed assessment to ensure that an assessment measures knowledge and skills rather than the disability.
  • Reasonable workplace accommodation: employment term to refer to modifications or adjustments to a position, an employment practice or the work environment which makes it possible for a qualified individual with a disability to perform essential job functions or enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.
    • Examples include: Relocation to physically accessible work location or modified work schedule.
  • Reasonable modifications: modifications to policies, practices, or procedures when such are necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability.
    • Example: Modifying the no pets aspect of the University Housing Contract to permit an assistance animal for an individual with a disability within University Housing.
  • Auxiliary aids and services: ensure effective communication and include qualified sign language interpreters, notetakers; real-time captioning; closed captioning, alternate formats, accessible electronic and information technology, etc.
    • Example: Providing accurate closed captioning of video content to individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing to have access to the same information in an equally integrated manner.

Qualified individual with a disability: A person with a disability who meets the requisite skill, experience, education and other related requirements of the program or employment position and who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can meet all the essential requirements or functions of such.

  • Example: Students must be able to meet University standards for behavior (ie: Code of Student Conduct) and academic achievement (ie, GPA, program requirements).
  • Employees must meet requirements for the position, such as education requirements.

Fundamental alteration: a change that is so significant or substantial that it alters the essential nature of the position, course, program, service, or activity.

  • Example: Request for a waiver of an essential program requirement, such as student teaching for an education major.

Equal access and opportunity: the opportunity for a qualified person with a disability to participate in or benefit from educational aid, benefits, or services that is equal to and as effective as the opportunity provided to others.

Substantially limiting: significantly restricted as to the condition, manner or duration under which an individual can perform a particular major life activity as compared to the condition, manner or duration under which the average person in the general population can perform the same major life activity.

Undue Hardship: an accommodation or action requiring significant difficulty or expense when considered in light of factors such as the University's size, financial resources, and the nature and structure of its operation. Undue Hardship also refers to an accommodation that is unduly extensive, substantial, or disruptive, or one that would fundamentally alter the nature of the position.