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Disability FAQ

  • Am I required to disclose a disability?

    You are not required to disclose a disability. However, you will need to so if you plan to request a reasonable accommodation under the ADAA. Please remember that disclosing alone is not the same thing as requesting an accommodation. For employees who do disclose, this will trigger an interactive dialog between you, EOO, your supervisor, and if appropriate, your health care provider. 

  • Whom do I contact to disclose a disability?

    Staff, faculty and applicants: 

    Please contact Donna Vieweg, Senior Equal Opportunity and Outreach Employment Specialist, at 978-934-3566, or call the main phone number for Equal Opportunity and Outreach, 978-934-3565.


    Phone: 978-934-4574

    Counseling Services, a resource available for students with and without disabilities, is located at McGauvran Student Union Building, South Campus 
    Phone: 978-934-4331

  • What is the legal definition of a person with a disability?

    The legal definition has three parts:

    • An individual has an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.
    • Has a record of a disability, for example, one now in remission.
    • Is an individual who is treated or viewed as though he or she is disabled.
    • An individual closely associated to an individual with a disability, for example, a relative.

    Another key aspect of the law is the definition of “substantially limiting effect.” Essentially this means that one or a number of major life activities, including bodily functions, are affected by the disability. An individual's impairment must substantially limit one or more major life activities that an average person can perform with little or no difficulty.

    Examples include:

    Caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating and working. Major bodily functions, include functions of the immune system; normal cell growth; and digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine and reproductive functions.

    This list does not include all possible effects that may result from a variety of disabling conditions.

  • How is a disability established under the ADAA?

    Determining the existence of a disability: 
    Some disabilities are visible and clearly permanent. These individuals do not need to provide further documentation of a disability when requesting an accommodation. For others, a healthcare provider should indicate the nature of the disability to EOO, referring to the major life activities discussed above. Supervisors and faculty members should not attempt to determine whether an individual has a disability. Please contact EOO.

    Determining an appropriate accommodation:
    The healthcare provider determines whether the individual needs an accommodation to perform the key functions of a position. Supervisors should not attempt to determine whether an accommodation is needed or what accommodations are appropriate. Instead, all inquiries should be made as follows:

    Faculty, staff, and applicants for employment:

    Equal Opportunity and Outreach: Donna Vieweg, 978-934-3566.


    EOO or Student Disability Services will begin an interactive dialog with the employee requesting an accommodation, the supervisor, and the healthcare provider as appropriate.

  • Can a person who has a family member with a disability be protected under the ADAA?

    In some instances, yes. The ADAA protections extend to people who do not have disabilities themselves but are discriminated against on the basis of their association with a person with a disability. The association may be with family members, friends, or any other person. A person who experiences discrimination based on such an association has a right to protection under the ADA, but is not entitled to reasonable accommodation.

  • As a faculty or staff member, how do I request a reasonable accommodation?

    • Make an appointment with Donna Vieweg in Equal Opportunity and Outreach, 978-934-3566 for explanation of the process and to receive documentation for your health care provider.

    • Inform your health care provider that you have made a request for an accommodation at work.

    • If EOO requests further information, ask your health care provider to complete the documentation you receive from EOO staff. 

    • Health care provider sends material directly to EOO.

    • EOO reviews documentation. 

    • For classroom assignment accommodation requests, EOO contacts the Registrar's Office. For other requests, EOO contacts the supervisor to discuss feasibility. EOO does not divulge details about the disabling condition to supervisor.

    • If the request is feasible, EOO will work with the supervisor as appropriate in the implementation of the accommodation or a reasonable substitute that accomplishes the same result: allowing the employee to fulfill the essential functions of the job.

  • Can a request be denied even if the health care provider verifies that the disability has a substantially limiting effect on a major life activity?

    Feasibility of a request will be carefully considered. However, this does not mean that the University can deny a request merely because the accommodation poses a minor inconvenience. EOO will advise supervisors, deans, chairs and the Registrar's Office about this important distinction.

  • What are essential functions?

    Essential functions are the aspects of the job that are so fundamental that, if removed, would change substantially change the nature and function of the job.

  • What are some additional examples of reasonable accommodation?

    Modifications to:

    • The job application process

    • The way the job is performed

    • Working hours/work shift

    • Assistive technology

    • Work location