Center for Access and Restorative Engagement

Terminology and Definitions

Applicant: An individual pursuing employment with the University by submitting appropriate application materials for a specific, vacant position.

Employee: Any University employee including faculty, staff, and student employees. This includes hourly, salary, part-time, and full-time employees.

Disability: With respect to an individual, a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual, a record of such an impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment. The impairment may be permanent, chronic, or progressive. An impairment that is episodic or in remission is considered a disability under the ADA if the condition would substantially limit a major life activity when active.

Qualified Individual with a Disability: An employee or applicant is qualified if he or she possesses the requisite skills, education, experience, and training for a position and is able to complete the essential functions of his or her job with or without reasonable accommodation; an applicant must also satisfy the minimum qualifications for the job for which he or she is applying in order to be considered qualified.

Substantial Limitation (substantially limiting): Having a medical condition alone is not enough to make one eligible for accommodation under the ADA. Under the ADA, an individual with a disability is someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. To be considered an individual with a disability (or to have a “record of” a disability) an individual must be (or have been) substantially limited in performing a major life activity as compared to most people in the general population.

Major Life Activities: In general, major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. A major life activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

Reasonable Accommodation: A modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions. The decision as to the appropriate (reasonable) accommodation is made on a case-by-case basis. The principal test is that of effectiveness; whether the accommodation will provide an opportunity for a person with a disability to achieve the same level of performance and to enjoy benefits equal to those of an average similar-situated person without a disability.

Essential Function(s): The fundamental duties of the position or the primary reasons the position exists. The University is not required to eliminate an essential function from the position, or to lower quality or performance standards to make an accommodation, as long as those standards are applied uniformly to employees with or without a disability. The University is not required to create a new position to accommodate an employee. The University makes a determination as to whether a job function is “essential” on a case-by-case basis. Some of the factors used in determining whether a job function is essential are:

  • Whether the reason the position exists is to perform that function;
  • The number of other employees available to perform the function or among whom the performance of the function can be distributed; and
  • The degree of expertise or skill required to perform the function.

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.

Ergonomics: Ergonomics is the science of designing the job, equipment, and workplace to fit the worker. Proper ergonomic design is necessary to prevent repetitive strain injuries, which can develop over time and can lead to long-term disability. – International Ergonomics Association