Guidelines for Program Directors Regarding ADA

  1. Information regarding how to request an accommodation, including contact information, should be included in applicable policies, forms, the program’s webpage and other materials that are made available to participants and parents. Clarifying how to make a request and encouraging participants to submit requests in a timely manner should go a long way in preventing last-minute requests that may not be feasible to accommodate. It will also help the accommodation process be more administratively efficient on our end.
  2. Do not assume that a participant has a disability or needs an accommodation if they have not expressed a need unless that need is extremely and patently obvious (e.g., the person is in a wheelchair that cannot be used on the stairs). It also is not appropriate for leaders to ask participants if they need an accommodation or have a disability, unless the participant has indicated that they need a modification or some other assistance unless that need is extremely and patently obvious. The participant is responsible for asking for an accommodation if they need it. It is illegal to “regard” someone as disabled, i.e., to presume they need a disability accommodation.
  3. If a participant asks for any modification to a program that the employee (i.e. program director or staff) would be able to grant and apply in a consistent manner for all, regardless of the reason, (i.e., a modification that does not require a significant change in the program, competition, etc. that would unlevel the field for other participants), then the employee should just provide that modification to the participant. For instance, if someone needs a step stool in order to step up onto a platform, just provide it. If such a request comes up in the context of a “grievance” process, then the same advice should be followed—if it’s a minor modification, they can just grant it, but if it’s a bigger alteration, they should follow the protocol below in paragraph 4. The people involved in the “grievance” process should not be inquiring into a participant’s health as part of that process, and the forms should make that clear.
  4. If someone (a participant, their parent, etc.) indicates that they need an accommodation or modification based on a health-related reason, and it is something that cannot easily be granted, then before the leader denies the request, they should contact the SUU Human Resources Director in order to initiate an interactive process. That interactive process will determine next steps.
  5. Short-term conditions that do not have long-term complications (e.g. broken bones) generally are not considered disabilities; however, even though the same legal obligations to accommodate do not apply, the same basic decision-making framework can be used. For example, if a participant will be on crutches at an event due to a broken bone, and they need some additional time to move around, if that does not unreasonably alter the program’s requirements and can easily be granted, then it should be granted. If a request cannot easily be granted and may result in a fundamental alteration of the program’s requirements, the SUU Human Resources Director should be contacted. The on-the-ground employees should not be concerning themselves with whether an ailment qualifies under the definition of “disability.” That involves an analysis not well-suited for untrained persons, and that term is very broadly defined under the ADA.
  6. Following an established protocol for evaluating requests for accommodations that cannot easily be granted is important. This ensures consistent evaluation of the fundamental aspects of a program in relation to the accommodations that are requested. The SUU Human Resources Director is trained to perform this function and provide assistance and expertise.
  7. Religious accommodations follow a similar analysis, but without all the same required documentation. As with disabilities, if an accommodation can be granted without the need to go through a formal process and is reasonable considering the nature and requirements of the program, then it can be granted. Otherwise, there is an interactive discussion about what the participant needs and what, if any, reasonable modifications are available. The Office of Legal Affairs is a resource for those types of requests.