The University of Michigan does not discriminate on the basis of disability in its employment, programs, services or activities. Pursuant to applicable federal and state laws, it is the University’s policy to provide, upon request, reasonable accommodations to otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities in order to ensure equal access to campus employment or appointment (to include Graduate Student Research Assistants). The determination of whether an accommodation is reasonable is fact specific to the employee and the position and involves a process in which the department and the graduate student identify the impact of the disability on the performance of the essential job functions and workflow, explore possible reasonable accommodations to mitigate barriers, and maintain essential functions and performance standards of the appointment.
The University is obligated to make a reasonable employment accommodation only to the known disability of an otherwise qualified employee. In general, it is the responsibility of the employee to make their disability status and the related need for an accommodation known to the appropriate University official.
Each of the graduate schools within the University has an administrative designee who works with faculty and staff to facilitate access to appropriate reasonable accommodations. Students are encouraged to contact the administrative designee for information about campus resources, to request an accommodation, or to seek assistance with the implementation of an accommodation.
The Graduate Student Reasonable Accommodation Request Form and Health Care Provider Release Form are available online, from the Rackham Accessibility Facilitator, or administrative designee in the appointing school or college.
Employee or Appointee Instructions
Graduate students who have a disability may receive reasonable accommodations through an informal or formal process.
In many cases, reasonable accommodations may be arranged by a direct conversation between the student and faculty supervisor, appointing unit supervisor, or administrative designee. Students are not required to disclose to the academic unit their medical diagnosis when requesting an accommodation.
- Accommodation request: To submit a formal request for a reasonable accommodation, students should complete the Graduate Student Accommodation Request Form. The student submits the completed Graduate Student Accommodation Request Form to either the Rackham Accessibility Facilitator or administrative designee for the appointing unit. Note that this form does not require the student to disclose their medical diagnosis to his/her supervisor. See Resources for Graduate Students with Disabilities for additional information regarding the accommodation request process.
- Task Analysis: A task analysis for a student’s position may be requested by the employing unit. Typically the faculty supervisor or administrative designee will consult with the Rackham Accessibility Facilitator, who in turn may consult with Services for Students with Disabilities or the Office of Institutional Equity, when identifying the essential functions of the position and the required knowledge, skills and abilities related to the performance of the essential functions.
- Health care provider information: Students may be asked to complete a Health Care Provider Release Form that grants permission for Services for Students with Disabilities, or other University medical professionals, to contact the treating health care provider.
- The health care provider information may include: A diagnosis and assessment of the student’s particular disability as it relates to their activities of daily living; their ability to perform the essential functions of their position, with or without accommodation; and any functional limitations which may require accommodation.
- The University may choose to secure other medical opinions from health care professionals of its choice at its own expense.
Administrative Designee Instructions
Reviewing requests for reasonable employment accommodations
- Academic units must consider a graduate student employee/appointee’s request for accommodation due to a disability. In many cases, reasonable accommodations can be arranged by talking directly with the graduate student employee/appointee.
- The graduate student is not required to disclose to the academic unit their medical diagnosis when requesting an accommodation. Do not ask the graduate student employee/appointee for personal medical information or ask questions about the disability itself.
- Faculty and appointing unit supervisors should always consult with the administrative designee regarding requests for employment accommodations. The administrative designee may consult with the Rackham Accessibility Facilitator, Office of Institutional Equity, Services for Students with Disabilities, Academic Human Resources or the Office of the General Counsel for technical guidance.
- Financial support for some disability accommodations may be availablethrough the Central Accommodation Fund.Funding requests which meet the criteria established for the use of these funds should be made to the Rackham Accessibility Facilitator, the administrator of the fund. See the Central Accommodation Fund procedures for additional information.
Graduate Student Employment/Appointment Accommodation Form
- If the administrative designee receives a completed accommodation request form, send a copy to Rackham’s Accessibility Facilitator.
- Review the material with your department head and appointing authority.
- You may now have enough information to provide a reasonable accommodation. If so, complete the School and College Reasonable Accommodation Reporting Form and send a copy of it to the Rackham Accessibility Facilitator.
A task analysis may be requested by the employing unit. Typically the faculty supervisor and/or administrative designee will consult with the Rackham Accessibility Facilitator who in turn may consult or refer the administrative designee to the Office of Institutional Equity or Services for Students with Disabilities for guidance when identifying the essential functions of the position and the required knowledge, skills and abilities related to the performance of the essential functions. Provide a copy of the task analysis to the Rackham Accessibility Facilitator.
Develop Accommodation Plan
- Meet with the student and supervising/appointing faculty to discuss possible reasonable employment accommodations. (The Rackham Accessibility Facilitator will initiate these discussions as necessary).
- Consider all options for reasonable accommodation including the preferences of the employee/appointee.
- Select the accommodation(s) to be implemented.
- If the reasonable accommodation meets criteria for reimbursement by the Central Accommodation Fund, complete the request form. Obtain necessary signatures and submit request form to the Rackham Accessibility Facilitator.
- Implement the accommodation plan.
- Submit the School or College Reasonable Accommodation Reporting Form to the Rackham Accessibility Facilitator within 10 business days of implementing reasonable accommodation(s).
Confidentiality of Medical Records
- By law, medical records must be treated confidentially. At the University of Michigan, medical records, related to reasonable accommodation requests from graduate students are maintained in SSD. Do not keep medical records in department files. Should medical records inadvertently be sent to you, immediately forward them, in a confidential envelope, to Services for Students with Disabilities so that they can be maintained confidentially.
- Information obtained through the accommodation process must be treated with sensitivity. While an employee/appointee may choose to discuss such matters with friends and associates in the work environment, the academic unit must treat all such information or requests in a highly confidential manner.
Complaints or Disputes Related to Requests for Reasonable Accommodation
- If a request is denied based on the nature of the accommodation requested, the student may contact the administrative designee to determine whether an equally effective reasonable accommodation is available.
- Students who believe that they have been discriminated against on the basis of disability may file a complaint in the Office for Institutional Equity.
- Students with a GSI or GSSA appointment whose request for an accommodation is denied may have access to grievance procedures under the GEO Contract. Students should contact the GEO Union or Academic Human Resources for information about the GEO grievance process.