Policy Number: 101
I. POLICY AND GENERAL STATEMENT
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“university”) is committed to providing equal opportunities for qualified employees, job applicants, and students with disabilities in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations.
An otherwise qualified person with a disability is defined as any person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities, who has a record of such impairment or is regarded as having such impairment, and is otherwise capable of performing a particular job or participating in an academic program or service with reasonable accommodation.
Reasonable accommodations may be provided to enable an individual to perform the essential functions of his/her job and/or to participate in university academic programs, services, and activities. Reasonable accommodations may be made unless doing so would cause undue hardship on the operations of the university, an alteration or modification to a course or program to the extent that it changes the fundamental nature of that course or program, or a direct threat to the safety of the individual or others.
Human Resources-Equal Opportunity (HR-EO) is responsible for implementation of this policy. Within this office, the designated Disability Coordinator provides guidance to Section 504 Coordinators in the schools and coordinates university-wide compliance with applicable federal and state law.
Student applicants and enrolled students can obtain information concerning program-related accommodations in each school from the school's Section 504 Coordinator (usually found in the Student Affairs office of each school). Residents and clinical fellows can obtain information regarding accommodations from the Associate Dean for Educational Programs, who is designated the Section 504 Coordinator for the Office of Graduate Medical Education in the Medical School.
The Disability Coordinator and the Section 504 Coordinators can provide information and referrals regarding campus accessibility, disabled parking permits, transportation services, and other resources.
Scope: Applicants and Employees
Applicants seeking employment with the university can obtain information concerning accommodations in the applicant process from Human Resources.
Scope: Student Applicants and Enrolled Students
The university may take steps to provide reasonable and necessary auxiliary educational aids to otherwise qualified students with a disability. Auxiliary aids may include, but are not limited to, various methods of making orally delivered materials reasonably available to students certified as having a disability by a licensed physician; the university is not required to provide attendants, individually prescribed devices, readers or interpreters for personal use or study, or other devices or services of a personal nature. Academic requirements essential to the course or the program of instruction being pursued by the student or that relate directly to licensing requirements may not be modified.
Students may request reasonable accommodations prior to the time such an accommodation is needed. The availability of accommodations, if any, may be affected by the timing of the request and the necessary coordination of efforts. Students desiring an accommodation are responsible for initiating a request with the student's respective Section 504 Coordinator prior to the time such an accommodation is needed. Each school may have specific deadlines. The Section 504 Coordinator, appointed by the Dean of each respective school, is responsible for determining, coordinating and, as appropriate, providing appropriate reasonable accommodations for qualified students with disabilities.
If a student requests accommodation directly from a faculty member, the faculty member must notify the school's Section 504 Coordinator and refer the student to the 504 Coordinator and/or this policy.
Scope: Residents and Clinical Fellows
Accommodation requests by residents or clinical fellows will be addressed by following the procedures outlined below for students.
A. Requesting Accommodations
Any employee requesting accommodation must notify his/her supervisor in writing of a request for accommodation as soon as practical. The employee may use the Employee Request for Accommodation Form available in HR-EO. Upon receipt of the request, the supervisor is expected to meet with the employee to acknowledge the request and explain the process.
A student seeking accommodation is responsible for initiating a request in writing to his/her school’s or program’s respective Section 504 Coordinator as soon as practical, who will meet with the student to acknowledge the request, gather information, and explain the process. The student must complete the Student Request for Accommodation Form available from HR-EO.
The supervisor or Section 504 Coordinator will notify the Disability Coordinator of the request. With the assistance of the Disability Coordinator, the supervisor or Section 504 coordinator will advise the requesting individual of necessary documentation required to determine appropriate reasonable accommodations, which may vary depending on the nature and extent of the requesting individual's condition and the accommodation requested. It is the responsibility of the requesting individual to provide the required documentation regarding his/her condition. In the event the university determines it is appropriate to obtain a second professional opinion concerning the nature and scope of an individual’s condition or the impact of a possible accommodation, the university will bear the cost of obtaining the second opinion. The requesting individual's department will bear the cost of obtaining the second opinion. The accommodation request may only be evaluated once all required documentation, including any second opinions, has been submitted to the supervisor or Section 504 Coordinator.
Appropriate reasonable accommodations, if any, are determined following an individualized assessment of each request by the supervisor or Section 504 Coordinator and the Disability Coordinator. An accommodation cannot be implemented if it unduly burdens the operations of the university, eliminates an essential function of the job in question, modified academic requirements essential to the course or program, or provides an accommodation or service that is personal in nature, such as a hearing aid or wheelchair. Furthermore, performance, production, or conduct standards or attendance requirements expected of all employees may not be modified as an accommodation.
After consultation with the Disability Coordinator, the supervisor or Section 504 Coordinator evaluating the request for an accommodation will provide the requesting individual with written notice of the determination within 14 calendar days of receiving the completed request (including the requested required documentation). If the determination includes a reasonable accommodation, the notice will also include the expected implementation date. If a situation should arise whereby the supervisor or Section 504 Coordinator needs additional time to assess a request or to provide a reasonable accommodation, he/she will provide the requesting individual with written notification of the status of the request and the proposed date of determination.
3. Appeal of Decision
An employee may appeal the accommodation determination by providing written notification to the Disability Coordinator of his/her desire to appeal within 5 calendar days of receipt of the determination.
Upon receipt of the notice of appeal, the Disability Coordinator may convene the Reasonable Accommodation Committee to review the case. The Reasonable Accommodation Committee is composed of representatives from Facilities Operations, Employee Health Services, Office of Legal Affairs, and any other representative at the discretion of the Disability Coordinator. The requesting employee, supervisor, and other persons may be asked to provide information to the committee and may attend the appeals review at the discretion of the committee. A written decision to the requesting employee should be provided within 30 calendar days of the Disability Coordinator’s receipt of the notice of appeal. The decision of the Reasonable Accommodation Committee or Disability Coordinator is final.
A student may appeal the accommodation determination by providing written notification to the Dean of his/her desire to appeal. Upon receipt, the Dean will provide a written response to the student within 15 calendar days. The decision of the Dean is final.
4. Responsibility for Accommodations Costs
In the case of employees, the department bears the initial responsibility for funding any approved accommodation. In the case of students, the school or program bears the initial responsibility for funding any approved accommodation If the department head or the school or program believes the cost of providing the accommodation adversely impacts operations significantly, a written request and explanation for additional funding should be submitted to a higher level authority or to the appropriate budget administrator. The Disability Coordinator will serve as a resource for information regarding disability accommodations. The Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer will make the final determination regarding funding.
5. Elective Credit
Students with a disability intending to attend electives at other educational institutions with whom the university has an existing affiliation agreement for university credit are subject to the requirements of the individual university school, but must request approval from the appropriate university school administrator to attend such courses, and as appropriate, must request accommodations at least 90 calendar days prior to the start of the elective course. Students with a disability intending to earn credit for electives at other educational institutions with whom the university has an existing affiliation agreement who desire accommodation(s) for their disability during the elective must comply with this policy, and provide the university school’s 504 Coordinator the additional following information with their request:
- Documentation the student has requested accommodation from the institution providing the elective, and documentation of that institution’s response to the student’s request; and
- A signed statement from the student attesting the student commits to the scheduled elective, and agrees to forego any changes in scheduling once a request for accommodation has been approved.
The university will respond to the student’s request within 30 calendar days of timely receipt of the request and all necessary documentation. If the request for accommodation during the elective is denied, the university will document the reasons for the denial, including a written statement giving the factors considered and the basis for reaching the decision.
6. Public Service, Programs or Activities
The university, upon adequate notice of a need for necessary communication auxiliary aids and services, will provide such aids and services necessary to afford an individual with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in and enjoy the benefits of a university-sponsored service, program, or activity (including, for example, but not necessarily limited to public events such as graduation ceremonies). Requests for communication auxiliary aids and services, including appropriate medical documentation of the need for such aids and services, shall be made in writing to the individual school’s Office of Academic Affairs.
In the case of school-sponsored services, programs and public activities such as graduation ceremonies (or other school-specific service, program and public activities), requests shall be made in writing to the applicable 504 Coordinator. All requests shall be made at least 45 calendar days prior to the date the aid and service is required, the program starts, or activity occurs.
The university or school shall provide individuals with a decision regarding the provision of necessary communication auxiliary aids and services within 14 calendar days of the receipt of the written request. Upon adequate notice of a need of necessary auxiliary aids and services, should the communication aid or service requested by an individual not be available or determined to not be reasonable and/or necessary, the university may provide the requesting individual with such alternative reasonable communication auxiliary aids and services to provide an equally effective means of communication, or may otherwise deny the request. In such instance, the university will document the reasons for the denial, including a written statement giving the factors considered and the basis for reaching the decision.
All offices and individuals responsible for reviewing and analyzing requests for accommodation should maintain the confidentiality of all information related to the person’s disability and/or request for accommodation. To that end, supervisors will provide information only when necessary in evaluating and/or facilitating accommodations. Except where permitted by applicable law, information related to the person’s disability and/or request for accommodation will not be shared with non-university employees without the employee's consent.
Supervisors are responsible for ensuring all correspondence and notifications related to requests for accommodation are provided to the Disability Coordinator for retention of these records. Employee records containing disability documentation, requested accommodations, and implementation of requested accommodations, if any, will be maintained by the Disability Coordinator in accordance with applicable federal and state law. A description of any implemented accommodation will also be kept in the departmental employee file.
Files of student requests and dispositions of requests that contain disability documentation and a record of accommodations will be maintained by the Disability Coordinator in HR-EO and as appropriate or necessary, by the applicable Section 504 Coordinator.
C. Record Retention
Records will be maintained in accordance with the Records Retention Schedule.
D. Non-Educational Affiliated Institutions
If an accommodation request is related to assignment at a non-educational affiliated institution (e.g., Memorial Hermann Hospital, U.T. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, etc.), the designated Section 504 Coordinator and the Disability Coordinator will confer with the affiliated institution’s representative on a case-by-case basis.