ADA FAQ

Who is protected under the ADA?
Qualified students and employees who have a physical and/or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities are protected from illegal discrimination. Furthermore, if the condition affects the individual’s ability to perform essential job functions, the employee or student may request a reasonable accommodation. Other individuals who are protected under the ADA include those who have a record of a disability and/or those who are regarded as having a disability.

What is an impairment?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (the "ADA") broadly defines impairments with a wide variety of disorders or conditions that are physical, mental or physiological in nature.

Who is a qualified person with a disability?
A qualified person with a disability is a person who satisfies all of the prerequisites and can perform the essential functions of the position either with or without a reasonable accommodation.

What does it mean to be substantially limiting?
According to the EEOC, an impairment “substantially limits” a major life activity if the person is either:

  1. unable to perform a major life activity that the average person in the general public can perform or
  2. is significantly restricted as to the condition, manner or duration under which s/he performs the activity as compared to the condition, manner or duration under which the average person in the general public performs the activity

The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity must be made without regard to mitigating measures including but not limited to: medication, prosthetics, hearing devices or mobility devices.

What are major life activities?

Major life activities are activities that are fundamental to life and that the average person can perform with little or no difficulty including but not limited to: caring for oneself, walking, talking, breathing, sitting, lifting, seeing, performing manual tasks, reaching, learning, speaking, working, standing, etc.

Major life activities also include the operation of a major bodily function including but not limited to: normal cell growth as well as functions of the immune, neurological and endocrine systems.

In order to be covered under the ADA, the person must have an impairment that significantly limits one or more of these major life activities. The examples listed above are not exhaustive.

What are essential functions?
Essential functions are tasks that are fundamental and not marginal to the performance of the position or to satisfaction of educational requirements.

What is a reasonable accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job, learning process, or the work environment that enables an otherwise qualified applicant or employee to perform the essential functions of his or her job or an otherwise qualified student to access and complete his or her learning process. It is the student’s/employee’s responsibility to request the accommodation and to supply the proper medical documentation supporting the need for such modification.

How do I request a reasonable accommodation?
If you are an employee having difficulties performing the essential functions of your job due to a medical condition, contact the EEO/AA Office at (713) 743-8835. If you are a student having difficulties satisfying the educational requirements of your learning process due to a medical condition, contact the Center for Students with disABILITIES at (713) 743-5400. Either the EEO/AA Office or the Center for Students with disABILITIES will work interactively with you and your supervisor/professor to determine whether a reasonable accommodation is warranted and, if so, what the reasonable accommodation should entail.