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Disability Definitions for the Purpose of Requesting Accommodations


A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity such as walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

Physical or mental impairment

Physical or mental impairments may include but are not limited to: mobility/orthopedic impairments, visual impairments, specific learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, psychological disorders, neurological impairments, or chronic medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, or AIDS.  It does not include nonchronic impairments of short duration with little or no long-term impact, such as broken limbs, sprained joints, concussions, appendicitis, and influenza.  Physical characteristics such as left-handedness and peronality traits such as being irresponsible or having poor judgment are not covered impairments.

Major life activity

A function such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, sitting, standing, lifting, reaching, and working. Exercising cognitive functions is also a major life activity. Multiple impairments that combine to substantially limit a major life activity may also be considered a form of disability.

Qualified individual with a disability

A person with a disability who is able to perform the essential functions of his or her academic activities, with or without reasonable accommodation.

Reasonable accommodation

Any change or adjustment to an academic environment that permits a qualified student with a disability to participate in the academic process. Accommodations must be considered and made on a case-by-case basis. Some examples of accommodations that may be considered are modifying examinations, providing copies of visual aids, permission to audio record lectures, or preferential seating.

Undue hardship

Determined on the basis of the size of the university, the nature and cost of the accommodation, and whether the individual with the disability will pose a health and/or safety threat. An accommodation would generally be determined to represent an undue hardship if it would be unduly costly, extensive, substantial, or disruptive, or would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the university.

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