Policy Number: 101

Disability Accommodation

Subject:

Accommodations may be provided to a person with disabilities for access to university facilities to perform the essential functions of his or her job and/or to participate in university academic programs, services and activities

Scope:

Applicants, employees, students, trainees (residents and fellows), patients, other members of the university community and individuals who access services or programs of the university

Date Reviewed: March 2014

Responsible Office: Human Resources

Responsible Executive: Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer

I.     POLICY AND GENERAL STATEMENT

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“university”) is committed to providing equal opportunities for qualified employees, applicants, students, trainees, patients, other members of the university community and individuals who access services or programs of the university with disabilities in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations.

II.     DEFINITIONS

Disability Coordinator: The university shall appoint a Disability Coordinator who will be responsible for handling disability accommodation requests for all members of the university community and those who access services or programs of the university. The university’s appointed Disability Coordinator can be reached by telephone at (713) 500-3079 or by visiting 7000 Fannin, Suite 150.

Section 504 Coordinator: In accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the university shall appoint at least one employee to coordinate compliance with Section 504.  Each school and the GME Program have their own Section 504 Coordinator. The Section 504 Coordinator for each school is appointed by the Dean of the applicable school. The Section 504 Coordinators for each school and the GME Program can be found on this website

Person with a Disability: A person with a physical or mental impairment who, as a result of such impairment, is substantially limited in performing one or more major life activities. This includes persons who not only have an impairment, but also persons who have a “record” of such an impairment. This also includes persons who have been “regarded as” having such an impairment; however, an individual who is considered a person with a disability solely on the basis of being “regarded as” having a disability is not eligible for a reasonable accommodation.

Qualified Person with a Disability: A person who meets the definition of Person with a Disability and who also possesses the skills, experience, knowledge, and educational, licensing, or other requirements of a program or a position he or she presently holds or will hold, and who can perform the essential functions of that program or position with or without reasonable accommodation.

Essential Functions: Tasks that are fundamental, not marginal, to the performance of an employee’s job and/or to university academic programs, services, and activities.

Genetic Information: A person’s family medical history, the results of a person’s or family members’ genetic tests, the fact that a person or a person’s family member sought or received genetic services, and genetic information of a fetus carried by a person or a person’s family member; or an embryo lawfully held by a person or family member receiving assistive reproductive services.

Reasonable Work Accommodation: A reasonable adjustment or modification in the work environment or in the manner a job or position held is customarily performed, that enables a qualified person with a disability to perform the essential functions of that position, so long as it does not create an undue hardship to the university. An individual who is considered a person with a disability solely on the basis of being regarded as having a disability is not eligible for a reasonable accommodation.

Reasonable Academic Adjustment/Auxiliary Aid: A reasonable academic adjustment/auxiliary aid in the academic environment including facilities, services, instruction delivery, testing and/or equipment that would allow the student to have equal access to academic program(s) and equal opportunity to pursue academic program(s) and academic goals so long as it does not create an undue burden or hardship to the university.

Undue Burden/Hardship: Any accommodation that would cause an undue hardship on the operations of the university. In determining whether an accommodation would impose an undue hardship, factors to be considered include, but are not limited to, the nature and cost of the accommodation, financial considerations, the impact of the accommodation upon the nature and operation of the department, and how the request would affect the health and safety of other employees.  Also, any academic adjustment/auxiliary aid that would: a) fundamentally affect or change the nature of a program or course being taught; b) be significantly disruptive; c) be very costly to the university; or d) fundamentally alter the essential requirements of instruction or course requirements.

Licensed Health Care Practitioner: A qualified person who has successfully completed a prescribed program of study in a health field and who has obtained a license or certificate indicating his or her competence to practice in that field.

Student: Student is defined as any enrolled individual registered for classes or instruction in good standing in any school.  For purposes of this policy, trainees (residents and fellows) shall utilize the procedures outlined for students in this policy.  Applicants for admission as a student shall utilize the procedures outlined in Section III.B below. 

III.     PROCEDURE

A.        Procedures for Applicants Seeking Employment

A request for a reasonable accommodation during the application process begins with the applicant. The applicant must contact the Disability Coordinator to discuss any requested accommodations during the application/interview process.

B.        Procedures for Student Applicants

A request for a reasonable accommodation during the application process begins with the applicant. The applicant must contact the appropriate Section 504 Coordinator, who shall in turn notify the Disability Coordinator, to discuss any requested accommodations during the application/interview process.  Information provided during the admissions process concerning an applicant’s disability shall be provided by the applicant on a voluntary basis.

Students accepted for admission are strongly urged to contact the appropriate Section 504 Coordinator as soon as possible after notice of admission regarding disabilities that might require accommodations.  This notice should allow adequate time to evaluate the required documentation, engage in the interactive process, and to make arrangements for any granted accommodations.

C.        Procedures for Employees Requesting Workplace Accommodations

A request for a reasonable workplace accommodation begins with the employee. The employee should contact the Disability Coordinator to obtain and thereafter complete the Request for Workplace Accommodation Form. The employee shall submit the completed form to the Disability Coordinator. Supervisors who receive a request for an accommodation from an employee shall immediately notify the Disability Coordinator.

       1.         Medical Certification/Documentation of Disability for Workplace Accommodations

Documentation of a disability will be required when the need for workplace accommodation is not clearly apparent.  Unless the disability and/or need for a workplace accommodation is clearly apparent, the Disability Coordinator shall provide the employee with a copy of his or her job description and a Medical Certification Form to be completed by the employee’s Licensed Health Care Practitioner in accordance with the form’s instructions. The employee shall submit the completed Medical Certification Form to the Disability Coordinator.  If the disability and/or need for workplace accommodation is clearly apparent, the Licensed Health Care Practitioner need only complete the portions of the Medical Certification Form pertaining to restrictions related to the employee’s specific essential job functions and suggestions or recommendations for reasonable workplace accommodations, if any.

If the Disability Coordinator does not receive the required documentation and information from the employee within 14 calendar days after the employee’s initial request for accommodation, the request for accommodation will be denied for lack of necessary information. However, the employee will not be barred from re-filing the request. 

       2.         Interactive Reasonable Workplace Accommodation Review

Once all the required documentation has been provided to and/or obtained by the Disability Coordinator, the Disability Coordinator shall determine if the employee is a Qualified Person with a Disability under the policy. If the requesting employee is a Qualified Person with a Disability under the policy, the Disability Coordinator and the employee’s supervisor will engage in an interactive review to determine whether the requested workplace accommodation is reasonable, and, if so, whether it should be approved and implemented. As part of this review, the Disability Coordinator and employee’s supervisor may: analyze the particular job involved to determine its purpose and essential functions, consult with the employee to ascertain the precise job-related limitations imposed by the individual’s disability and how those limitations could be overcome with reasonable accommodation, identify potential accommodations and assess the effectiveness each would have in enabling the individual to perform the essential functions of the position, consider the preference of the individual to be accommodated and select and implement the accommodation that is most appropriate for both the employee and the university.

After engaging in the interactive process with the employee, the Disability Coordinator shall make a determination of an appropriate workplace accommodation.  Once a determination has been made regarding the request, the Disability Coordinator shall provide a written response to the employee and his or her supervisor. The employee’s Request for Workplace Accommodation, Medical Certification Form, the written response and other related documents shall be maintained by HR-EO.

Employees who have been granted a reasonable workplace accommodation must maintain the university’s standards of performance and conduct consistent with departmental requirements and any accommodation provided to the employee.

       3.         Appeal

An employee who disagrees with the Disability Coordinator’s determination may appeal by providing a written appeal to the Disability Coordinator within five (5) calendar days of the receipt of the written response. Upon receipt of the written appeal, the Disability Coordinator will promptly convene a panel with representatives from Facilities Operations, if applicable, Employee Health Services, and the Office of Legal Affairs. The panel will review the Workplace Accommodation Request and the written response and may ask the Disability Coordinator, requesting employee, supervisor, or other pertinent persons to provide additional information pertaining to the accommodation request. Within fourteen (14) calendar days of the panel convening, the panel will render a written decision to the employee, the supervisor and Disability Coordinator concerning the accommodation request. The decision of the panel is final.

       4.         Cost

The employing department bears the responsibility for funding approved accommodations. If the department head believes the cost of providing the accommodation will cause an undue burden on the operations of the department, the Disability Coordinator should be notified, and the department shall submit a request and explanation for additional funding to the appropriate budget administrator. The Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer will make the final determination regarding funding.

D.        Procedures for Requesting Academic Accommodations/Auxiliary Aids

A request for a reasonable academic accommodation/ auxiliary aid begins with the student. The student should contact the Section 504 Coordinator at his or her school or the Disability Coordinator as soon as he or she is aware of the need for an academic accommodation/auxiliary aid.  The Section 504 Coordinator or Disability Coordinator will provide the student with the Request for Academic Accommodation/Auxiliary Aids Form. The student shall submit the completed form to the Disability Coordinator. Faculty members who receive a request for an accommodation from a student shall immediately notify the Section 504 Coordinator, who shall in turn notify the Disability Coordinator.

       1.         Medical Certification / Documentation of Disability for Academic Accommodation/Auxiliary Aid

Documentation of a disability will be required when a need for an accommodation/aid is not clearly apparent.  Unless the disability and/or need for an accommodation/aid is clearly apparent, the student should submit a Medical Certification Form to his or her Licensed Health Care Practitioner for completion. The student shall submit the completed Medical Certification Form to the Disability Coordinator. If the disability and/or need for an accommodation/aid is clearly apparent, the Licensed Health Care Practitioner need only complete the portions of the Medical Certification Form pertaining to restrictions related to the student’s disability and suggestions or recommendations for reasonable academic accommodation or auxiliary aids, if any.

       2.         Non-Receipt of Documentation

If the Disability Coordinator does not receive the required documentation and information from the student within fourteen (14) calendar days after the student’s initial request for accommodation, the request for accommodation will be denied for lack of necessary information. However, the student will not be barred from re-filing the request.

       3.         Interactive Review of Request for Academic Accommodation/ Auxiliary Aid

Once all the required documentation has been provided to and/or obtained by the Disability Coordinator, the Disability Coordinator shall determine if the student is a Qualified Person with a Disability under this policy. If the requesting student is a Qualified Person with a Disability under this policy, the Disability Coordinator and the Section 504 Coordinator will engage in an interactive review to determine whether the academic accommodation/auxiliary aid requested by the student is reasonable, and, if so, whether it should be approved and implemented. As part of this interactive review, the Disability Coordinator and Section 504 Coordinator may: analyze the particular course, program, or activity to determine the essential instruction requirements, determine what may be directly related to licensing requirements, determine whether the accommodation would cause a fundamental alteration to program requirements, consult with individuals knowledgeable about licensing requirements and programs to ascertain the precise limitations imposed by the individual’s disability and how those limitations could be reasonably accommodated, identify potential accommodations and assess the effectiveness each would have in enabling the individual to participate, consider the preference of the individual to be accommodated, and select and implement the accommodation that is most appropriate for both the student and the university. After engaging in the interactive process, the Disability Coordinator shall make a determination of an appropriate accommodation.  Once a determination has been made regarding the request, the Disability Coordinator shall provide a written response to the student and to the appropriate school or program. The student’s Request for Academic Accommodation/Auxiliary Aid, Medical Certification Form, the written response and other related documents shall be maintained by HR-EO.

       4.         Appeal

A student who disagrees with the Disability Coordinator’s determination may appeal by providing a written appeal to the Disability Coordinator within five (5) calendar days of receipt of the written response. Upon receipt of the written appeal, the Disability Coordinator will convene a panel with representatives from Facilities Operations, if applicable, Student Health Services, the school or program, and the Office of Legal Affairs. The panel will review the Academic Accommodation/Auxiliary Aid Request and the written response and may ask the Disability Coordinator, the Section 504 Coordinator, the requesting student, pertinent faculty members, or other pertinent persons to provide additional information pertaining to the accommodation request. Within fourteen (14) calendar days of the panel convening, the panel will render a written decision to the student and the appropriate school or program via the appropriate Section 504 Coordinator and the Disability Coordinator concerning the accommodation request. The decision of the panel is final.  

       5.         Cost

The school or program bears the responsibility for funding approved accommodations. If the school or program believes the cost of providing the accommodation will cause an undue burden on the operations of the school or program, the Disability Coordinator should be notified, and the school or program shall submit a request and explanation for additional funding to the appropriate budget administrator. The Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer will make the final determination regarding funding.

E.            Elective Credit

Students with a disability intending to earn credit for electives at other educational institutions with which the university has an existing affiliation agreement and who desire accommodation(s) for their disability during the elective must first request accommodation(s) from the educational institution providing the elective.  If the other institution denies the request, the student may request accommodation(s) from the appropriate school’s Section 504 Coordinator.  The student must provide the school’s Section 504 Coordinator the additional following information with their request:

  1. Documentation that the student has requested accommodation from the institution providing the elective, and documentation of that institution’s response to the student’s request; and
  2. A signed statement from the student attesting that 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 fourteen (14) 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.

F.         Public Service, Programs or Activities

       1.       Requesting Auxiliary Aids/Services

The university, upon adequate notice of a need for reasonable and necessary auxiliary aids or services, will provide such reasonable aids or services 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 (for example, public events such as graduation ceremonies). Requests for auxiliary aids or services, including appropriate medical documentation of the need for such aids or services, shall be made in writing to the Disability Coordinator.  All requests shall be made at least forty-five (45) calendar days prior to the date the aid or service is required, the program starts, or the activity occurs.

       2.       Appeal

An individual who disagrees with the Disability Coordinator’s determination may appeal by providing a written appeal to the Disability Coordinator within five (5) calendar days of receipt of the written response. Upon receipt of the written appeal, the Disability Coordinator will convene a panel with representatives from Facilities Operations, if applicable, Employee and/or Student Health Services, the school or program, and the Office of Legal Affairs. The panel will review the Accommodation/Auxiliary Aid Request and the written response and may ask the Disability Coordinator, the Section 504 Coordinator if applicable, the requesting individual, or other pertinent persons to provide additional information pertaining to the accommodation request. Within fourteen (14) calendar days of the panel convening, the panel will render a written decision to the requesting individual, the appropriate school or program via the appropriate Section 504 Coordinator if applicable and the Disability Coordinator concerning the accommodation request. The decision of the panel is final.  

G.        Non-Educational Affiliated Institutions

If an accommodation request is related to assignment at an affiliated institution (e.g., Memorial Hermann Hospital, U.T. MD Anderson Cancer Center, Harris Health), the designated Section 504 Coordinator, if applicable, and the Disability Coordinator will confer with the affiliated institution’s representative on a case-by-case basis.

H.        Independent Medical Opinion

The university has the authority to obtain, at the university’s expense, an independent medical opinion concerning the impairment (excluding Genetic Information) for which an employee or student seeks a reasonable accommodation, including additional suggestions or recommendations regarding reasonable workplace accommodations, academic accommodations, or auxiliary aids. The failure of the requesting individual to cooperate with obtaining this independent medical opinion will result in the denial of the request for accommodation/auxiliary aid.

I.          Confidentiality

Records or information obtained by the Disability Coordinator as part of the accommodation request process that reflect diagnosis, evaluation, or treatment of a person’s medical or mental health condition are confidential and shall be maintained by the Disability Coordinator/HR-EO.  Such records shall be shared only with those university employees who the Disability Coordinator determines have a need to access such records or to know such information in order to implement the workplace/academic accommodation process and shall not otherwise be released to anyone except as required by law. Information obtained by the Disability Coordinator during the accommodation request process is not obtained as part of psychological counseling services (even if the information is provided by a psychiatrist, psychologist or counselor) and is not subject to the confidential regulations applicable to such counseling services.

J.         Complaint

Any individual who alleges discrimination on the basis of a disability may contact HR-EO and assert a complaint pursuant to HOOP Policy 183, Discrimination & Harassment. Any individual who alleges retaliation due to a request for an accommodation made pursuant to this policy may contact the Office of Institutional Compliance pursuant to HOOP Policy 108, Protection from Retaliation. This does not include complaints regarding the decision of the Disability Coordinator or appeal regarding a decision made pursuant to this policy. Those decisions cannot be appealed except as provided in this policy.

K.         Other Requests for Accommodation

Patients, members of the university community and individuals who access university services or programs and have an accommodation request not otherwise addressed by this policy should contact the Disability Coordinator.

IV.     CONTACTS

ContactTelephoneEmail/Web Address
Human Resources 713-500-3130 http://hr.uth.tmc.edu/EEOnew/meet_eo_staff.html