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Common questions and answers about disability accommodations across university environments.

Accommodations FAQ

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act and Washington State Law, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities related to education include, but are not limited to: walking, sleeping, eating, learning, reading, writing, processing, hearing, etc.

An accommodation is a modification to a policy, procedure or practice to ensure an individual with a temporary or permanent disability has equal access to services, programs, activities, education and employment provided by the University.

First, a student completes the Disability Resources for Students (DRS) new student application. Then, the designated campus DRS office engages the student in the interactive process to determine reasonable accommodations.

For more information, please refer to the DRS Getting Started page.

First, an employee completes the accommodation request form or engages their supervisor, HR or DSO. Then, the appropriate accommodation case manager engages the employee in the interactive process to determine reasonable accommodations.

For more information, please refer to the Employee Accommodations page.

In addition to information shared by the individual with a disability, supplemental details from a health care provider may be needed to assist the University in understanding an individual’s condition, impact or limitations, and/or specific barriers present in the academic or workplace environment.

For more information on employees, please refer to the Employee Accommodations page.

For more information on students, please refer to the Documentation Guidance page.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires recipients of federal funding to afford individuals with disabilities equal access to all services. In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) spelled out in greater detail the obligations not only of recipients of federal funds but also private businesses and public spaces. Details like door sizes, toilet and grab bar heights, parking spaces, and many others were clearly defined. In 2008, after a series of court decisions eroded congress’s intent with the ADA, Congress passed the amendments act. The ADA Amendments Act reaffirms congress’s intention that the ADA applies to individuals with all types of disabilities including those suffering from long-term illnesses such as cancer or impairments to bodily systems and made clear that mitigating measures should not be taken into effect when determining whether an individual has a disability. The intent and effect of the amendments act was to significantly expand the number of people covered by the ADA.

For more information about state and federal laws, as well as UW policies, refer to the Policy and Regulations page.