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Disability Accommodation
Accommodation Request Process for Employees and Appointees

Governing Policy

The University of Washington accommodation process is governed by the Policy on Reasonable Accommodation of Employees with Disabilities (APS 46.5, Section 1).

Employee and Appointee Responsibilities

The disability accommodation process is interactive and requires cooperation and communication between the individual requesting accommodation and the University staff members who respond to the request. Employees and appointees actively participate in the accommodation process by communicating their needs and interests and attending any meetings that may be necessary to discuss the accommodation request.

The first goal of the accommodation process is to help you remain in your current position, with or without accommodation. In many cases job modifications can be easily arranged by talking directly with your supervisor, administrator, or department chair. However, you are not required to disclose to your immediate supervisor the medical basis for a requested accommodation (see confidentiality of medical information below). If you choose not to make your accommodation request to your supervisor, or if you have questions about the accommodation process, you may contact the offices listed at the end of this document for assistance.

Making an Accommodation Request

You may request accommodation by filling out the Disability Accommodation Request form or otherwise informing your supervisor of your need for accommodation.

Filling out an accommodation request form may not always be necessary, but using the form may be to your benefit because it helps the University maintain an accurate record of the request and what action was taken.

To begin the accommodation request process you may use the Accommodation Request For Disability or Serious Medical Condition form.

Click the link to download and print the Accommodation Request For Disability or Serious Medical Condition form, or contact the Disability Services Office to request the form be sent to you.

While you are not required to disclose medical information to your supervisor or co-workers, medical documentation (or additional medical documentation) is required in order to process an accommodation request. It is your responsibility to obtain information from your health care provider in a timely manner using the Health Care Provider Statement form. Send documents to the Disability Services Office. The University will evaluate and respond to any medical information we receive. Employees are encouraged to use the forms provided to ensure that we receive sufficient information to process an accommodation request. The University will evaluate and respond to any medical information we receive even if the forms provided are not used. However, if the forms are not used this may necessitate clarification and possible delays regarding the medical information provided.

Confidentiality of Medical Information

By law, medical information must be maintained confidentially and separate from regular personnel records. For staff employees, medical records are retained in the Human Resources Operations office serving the employee's department. For academic employees and appointees, medical records are retained by the Disability Services Office. Risk Management may also have medical records if the medical condition is work-related.

You are not required to reveal the diagnosis of your condition or the details of your medical treatment to your immediate supervisor or to coworkers. However, some employees choose to share this kind of information with others. Employees who voluntarily share medical information with co-workers should consider that it may be passed on to others. The information should still be treated as confidential. An employee who has shared some information at one time may later decide that he or she no longer wishes to discuss the condition or its treatment. Such decisions must be respected.

Supervisor Responsibilities

You must consider carefully an employee’s request for accommodation due to disability. The first goal of the process is to keep the employee in the current position, with or without accommodation. In many cases, job or work space modifications can be arranged easily by talking with the employee. Should you have questions as to whether the request is reasonable, contact your unit’s Human Resource Consultant (for staff employees) or the Disability Services Office (for academic employees and appointees). You will receive help evaluating the request and determining whether it should be approved.

While not all accommodation requests will be approved, an accommodation request may not be denied before it, and possible alternatives are thoroughly evaluated. This evaluation will include consultation with your Human Resources Consultant or with staff from the Disability Services Office. It is also necessary to document any accommodations that are provided to an employee. Your Human Resources Consultant or the Disability Services Office can assist you with this process. Failure to process an accommodation request properly is a serious matter and can result in disciplinary action.

Immediately forward any disability accommodation request forms that are submitted according to the forms’ instructions. Should you receive a request without a form, discuss the request with your Human Resources Consultant or Disability Services Office. If an employee or appointee tells you about a health problem but does not make a specific accommodation request, contact your Human Resources Consultant or the Disability Services Office for assistance.

Do not ask the employee for personal medical information or ask questions about the disability itself. The employee is not required to disclose to you the medical basis for the requested accommodation. Should the employee choose to disclose such information, advise him or her that disclosure is not necessary, and that you will keep the information confidential. If you receive documents containing medical information, immediately forward them to the appropriate office. Do not keep medical records in departmental files.

How the University Will Respond to the Accommodation Request

The University will respond to a disability accommodation request as quickly as possible. Requests for minor physical office adjustments (e.g. desk height modifications or ergonomic enhancements) may be implemented by the supervisor without additional assistance.

If a request requires substantial action such as job duty modification, environmental changes, or equipment purchases, the University may need information about your medical condition, capacities or limitations before accommodations can be made. Representatives from Human Resources, Disability Services or Risk Management/Workers Compensation (for job related illnesses or injuries) may participate in the review of the request and any discussions or meetings that may be necessary.

For staff and academic employees, if the University determines that it is not possible to accommodate you in your current position, and you can work at least half time or more, the University will attempt to place you in a vacant position that meets the following requirements:

For fellows, residents, and graduate service appointees, the placement options that may be available if you cannot remain in your appointment will depend on the nature of your appointment program.

Job Analysis and Health Care Provider Statement

Representatives from the Disability Services Office or Risk Management may conduct a physical or cognitive job analysis of your position. The job analysis evaluates the position’s physical or cognitive requirements and identifies essential job elements. Essential job elements are those that you must be able to perform, with or without accommodation. They cannot be removed from the position without changing its nature. Duties that are not essential may be modified, eliminated, replaced, or restructured as part of the accommodation process.

You may be given the job analysis to take to your health care provider to help him/her understand the job before determining whether you can perform the position's essential job elements.

The University asks that you have your health care provider complete a Health Care Provider Statement (available from the Disability Services Office and Human Resources Operations Offices). This information is used to help identify an appropriate accommodation. You are responsible for obtaining the completed Health Care Provider Statement from the physician if one is requested. Occasionally, the University may determine that an independent medical assessment is necessary. If that is the case, the University pays for the examination.

Leaves of Absence

In some circumstances, the appropriate accommodation may be a leave of absence from work. If the leave of absence will be for a defined and limited period of time and you expect to return to full duties in your position, follow your department’s normal leave request procedures. For leaves of this type, completion of an accommodation request form is typically not necessary. Faculty should report such absences to Academic Human Resources.

For some illnesses or injuries the health care provider cannot initially determine how long you will be away from work or when you will be able to resume your job duties. In these cases, a leave of absence may be the only accommodation that is recommended or available, and you should complete an accommodation request form. It may also be necessary for you to be placed on a leave of absence during the University’s evaluation of your accommodation request.

The University of Washington Disability Leave of Absence Policy for Classified and Professional Staff and Librarians describes how these groups of employees may use paid and unpaid leave during a disability leave of absence, and explains the disability leave allowance. Librarians should review information regarding the their leave policy. Faculty should review the Faculty Policies Regarding Medical Leave and Family Leave.

Absences from work due to a serious health condition may also be covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Academic student employees, fellows, and residents should follow the procedures applicable to their programs to request leave from their position and the program in which they are enrolled.

Academic student employees covered by the UW/UAW labor contract, see Contract Article 16, Leaves of Absence.

Fellows and residents, contact the Dean's office, Graduate Medical Education 206-543-6806.

Reemployment Assistance for Employees Who Are Separated

If you cannot be accommodated in your current position and placement in an alternative vacant position is not possible, you will be separated from University employment. Employees who are separated from UW employment are eligible for re-employment assistance for up to 2 years following separation. Former employees who are able to work at least 50% time and are interested in seeking re-employment assistance should contact Dena Rucker, Disability Employment Specialist Disability Employment Specialist, at 206.616.5129 or by email at

Re-employment rights of appointees depend on the terms of their appointment.

Complaint Resolution Process

If you are not satisfied with the University's response to an accommodation request there are several options you have for resolving your concern and/or getting assistance:

  1. You may contact your Human Resources Consultant (for staff employees) or the Disability Services Office (for academic employees and appointees) to be sure that appropriate consideration has been given to your request.
  2. The University of Washington ADA Coordinator is responsible for overseeing the University’s compliance with the federal laws addressing disability discrimination and accommodation. If you have a complaint or wish to raise a concern regarding disability discrimination or failure to accommodate by the University, the ADA Coordinator can serve as a conflict resolution resource.

    Amanda Paye, Title IX/ADA Coordinator
    Phone/Voice: 206-221-7932

  3. The University has a process for resolution of complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of disability, including failure to accommodate a disability. See Complaint Resolution Options and Administrative Policy Statement 46.3. You may file a formal complaint by contacting the University Complaint Investigation and Resolution Office. You also have the right to file a complaint with an external federal or state enforcement agency.

Offices/Contact Information

UW Human Resources Operations Offices:

Campus HR Operations
RCW 2nd Floor
Box 354963
4300 Roosevelt Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105-4963
206-543-2354 (v) 206-685-0636 (fax)

Harborview Medical Center

319 Terry Avenue (location), Seattle
Box 359715
206-731-3233/Voice, or 206-731-8664/TTY

UW Medical Center Operations
Room BB150
Box 356054
Disability Services Office
RCW 2nd Floor
Box 354960
4300 Roosevelt Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105-4960
206-543-6450/Voice or 206-543-6452/TTY
DSO website
University Complaint Investigation and Resolution Office (UCIRO)
4311 11th Avenue NE, Suite 630
Box 354996
206-616-2028/Voice or 206-616-4797/TTY
UW Bothell Human Resources Office
Box 358535
425 352-5462/Voice
UW Tacoma Human Resources Office
Box 358431