Reasonable Accommodation FAQ

Syracuse University Reasonable Accommodation Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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What is a disability?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a disability is defined as: a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity, including major bodily functions the record of such an impairment (for example, someone having recovered from cancer or a serious illness) being regarded by others as having an impairment (such as individuals with facial scarring). In New York State, the Human Rights Law definition of disability includes: a physical, mental, or medical impairment resulting from anatomical, physiological, genetic, or neurological conditions that prevents the exercise of a normal bodily function; or is demonstrable by medically accepted clinical or laboratory diagnostic techniques.

What types of disabilities are there?

Reasonable Accommodations PhotoThe Americans with Disabilities Act does not list every disability, however, examples of specific impairments that should easily be concluded to be disabilities include deafness, blindness, intellectual disability, partially or completely missing limbs, mobility impairments, autism, cancer, cerebral palsy, diabetes, epilepsy, HIV infection, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia.

Syracuse University staff, faculty members, or student employees who have a disability can request a reasonable accommodation to perform their work responsibilities by contacting the Syracuse University Disability Access Team. Syracuse University students with a disability can request a reasonable accommodation by contacting the Center for Disability Resources.

Who is a qualified applicant or employee?

A qualified applicant or employee is a person with a disability who satisfies all the prerequisites of a position and can perform the essential functions of the position that the individual holds or desires, either with or without reasonable accommodation.

What if my condition is not considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) disability access staff works to provide an equity-based accommodation process that can accommodate some conditions, including temporary impairments, not typically covered by the ADA. For instance, temporary impairments, such as sprains or strains are not typically covered under the ADA, but may be covered by the New York State Human Rights Law (HRL) or by ODI’s equity-based accommodation process. Pregnancy is covered by the New York State HRL. While you may have a physical or mental impairment that is not covered under the ADA or HRL, you may be protected under a variety of state or federal provisions (such as the Family Medical Leave Act or Worker’s Compensation insurance).

If the Syracuse University Disability Access Team determines the condition is not covered, or through the interactive process it is determined the condition cannot be accommodated, you may want to consult with the HR Benefits department regarding potential leave options.

What is a reasonable accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that enables an otherwise qualified applicant or employee to perform the essential functions of their job. It is one that allows the person with a disability to participate in a comparable way as those without disabilities without imposing “undue hardship.”

Who can request a reasonable accommodation?

Staff, faculty, and undergraduate and graduate students who are employed by Syracuse University may request a reasonable accommodation via the Syracuse University reasonable accommodations process.

Undergraduate and graduate students who are not employed by the university may request a reasonable accommodation via the Center for Disability Resources.

What are examples of reasonable accommodations?

Below are common reasonable accommodations for staff, faculty, and student employees. All accommodation requests should be submitted via the Syracuse University reasonable accommodation process and are evaluated on an individual basis to determine what is reasonable. Please note, this list is not exhaustive.

  • Parking Accommodation: A request for parking or transportation assistance. The Syracuse University Disability Team works with the Syracuse University parking team to identify closer available parking and/or a pickup / drop-off service.
  • Housing/Emotional Support Animal: A request for a staff or faculty member who lives, or works, on-campus.

Do I have to tell my supervisor if I have been diagnosed with a medical condition or disability?

No. Contact the Syracuse University Disability Access team if you require or think you may benefit from a reasonable accommodation to perform your essential job functions. Our staff will guide you through the interactive process and maintain your confidentiality.

Will I be asked to provide verification of my disability if I request a reasonable accommodation?

You may be asked to provide verification of a physical or mental condition from a health care professional to support your request for a Syracuse University reasonable accommodation. The type of documentation necessary to verify the disability may vary depending on the nature and extent of the disability and the accommodation requested.

Who will receive information about my health condition and/or my request for a Syracuse University reasonable accommodation?

Disability-related information, including requests for reasonable accommodations and medical documentation, are treated as confidential and access is limited to the Disability Access Team to protect your privacy. Requests and documentation are maintained with the Syracuse University Disability Access team and are kept separate from any departmental personnel files.

Generally, the Syracuse University Disability Access team will work closely with your supervisor to evaluate a request for a Syracuse University reasonable accommodation, however, specific information related to your disability or condition is not shared.

How is a Syracuse University reasonable accommodation determination decided?

Staff and/or faculty members should follow the below reasonable accommodations process:

  1. Read the Syracuse University Reasonable Accommodations webpage in its entirety to understand the process and review the remainder of the Syracuse University Reasonable Accommodations FAQs to answer many of your questions
  2. Download and review the Determination of Disability form.
  3. Review and complete this form with your doctor if possible. If you face a barrier getting this form completed, contact the Disability Access Team for guidance about alternative information.
  4. Submit the Disability Determination Form or alternative information to the Disability Access team.
  5. A member of the Syracuse University Disability Access team will contact you.
  6. The Syracuse University Disability Access team will work with you and the appropriate on-campus people to determine the reasonable accommodation(s) for you.
  7. Notice of the decided reasonable accommodation(s) is issued from the Syracuse University Disability Access team to the employee and their supervisor.

Please note that employers have discretion regarding adjustments to job requirements. The employer does not provide personal use items such as glasses or hearing aids.

The decision as to the appropriate accommodation for a specific individual is based on the facts of each case and how the accommodation will enable the person with a disability to do the job in question.

How do I submit my accommodation request information?

  • Log into MySlice
  • Select Employee Resources
  • Select eForms
  • Select Diversity and Inclusion
  • Select the “Request Form – Faculty/Staff”
  • Complete the online request form and submit.

I have work restrictions as part of a Worker’s Compensation/Transitional Duty Program (TDP), what should I do?

All questions regarding the TDP program can be addressed by Syracuse University’s risk management team.

I may need equipment, items, or services as part of a reasonable accommodation, who is responsible for purchasing them?

Items that are approved as part of the Syracuse University reasonable accommodation process are paid for by the staff or faculty member’s college or unit. A central accommodation fund is available to reimburse the college or unit for some accommodation costs.

My first preference for a reasonable accommodation has not been approved, is this allowed?

Employers must offer accommodations that are effective, which may or may not be the employee’s first choice or preference for an accommodation. The appropriateness of an accommodation must be analyzed in its specific context through the Syracuse University reasonable accommodation process.

My supervisor and I have spoken about my condition and have come to an understanding that works for me. Do I still need to formalize my request?

We recommend that you formalize your request, though this is not required. A formalized accommodation protects you in case your supervisor changes or your relationship with your supervisor changes. Your accommodations plan can also be updated if your job duties change, or you take a new job at the university. If your medical condition changes, accommodations can be updated if appropriate.

H2 For Managers

How do I support an employee who requires a reasonable accommodation?

Requesting a reasonable accommodation can be a confusing and scary process for employees. Employees may fear that they will be stigmatized for having a disability or fear that their jobs may be in jeopardy if they need accommodations to accomplish their work responsibilities.

To support your employee, encourage them to follow the Syracuse University reasonable accommodation process and refer them to the Syracuse University Disability Access team. Providing reasonable accommodations is a practice of equity where an employee with a disability is provided with what they specifically need to perform their essential job functions.

What is my role in the Syracuse University reasonable accommodation process?

As a supervisor you are integral to the Syracuse University reasonable accommodation process. The Syracuse University Disability Access team will confer with you to determine the appropriate, effective reasonable accommodation for your employee and will notify you of the final determination.

My employee gave me medical documentation regarding their temporary or long-term disability or condition. What should I do?

Refer the employee to the Syracuse University Disability Access team and return the documentation to the employee.

What are essential functions?

Essential functions are those job activities that are vital to performing the job. There are many factors involved in determining what is essential. Considerations for determining essential functions include the job description, the amount of time an employee spends performing the job function, and the employer’s judgment as to what is essential.