Accommodations for Disabled Employees

Accommodations for Disabled Employees

MIT is committed to the principle of equal opportunity and to providing effective and reasonable accommodations to employees with documented disabilities. These guidelines are designed to help supervisors work with disabled employees to create a productive work environment.

Essential Information for Obtaining Accommodations


Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act define a disability as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities."

Who is eligible

  • Employees who qualify under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which define a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
  • Major life activities are defined as the ability to perform functions like walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, or taking care of oneself.
  • An impairment does not necessarily constitute a disability. The degree of impairment must be significant enough to substantially limit one or more major life activity and be documented by a qualified professional. The documentation must address the substantial limitation posed by the particular disability for which the accommodation is being requested. The employee requesting accommodation must submit medical information (diagnosis and prognosis) that will help determine whether he or she meets federal and state criteria for a disability.
  • Documentation should recommend the reasonable accommodation that might enable the employee to fulfill the essential function of his or her job.

Guidelines for Documenting a Disability

Documentation serves as the foundation of an employee's request for appropriate accommodations and should include:

  • a clear statement of the disability, including diagnosis and prognosis
  • up-to-date documentation for eligibility — the age of acceptable documentation depends on the disabling condition, the current status of the employee, and the employee's request for accommodations
  • a summary of evaluation procedures as well as diagnostic test/evaluation results used to make the diagnosis
  • a statement describing the functional impact or limitations of the disability
  • an explanation of the recommended accommodation and its relevance to the disability
  • dates of the initial meeting and the most recent meeting between the employee and medical professionals
  • a completed Reasonable Accommodation Request Form (available below) presented to either the supervisor, the Human Resources officer, or the Disabilities Coordinator along with full documentation of the disability as described above

The Accommodation Review Process

The employer must initiate the accommodation review process as follows:

  • Conduct a review of the employee's job to identify the essential functions, equipment needs, and possible worksite modifications.
  • Send a letter to the employee's doctor — if necessary — outlining the essential functions of the job and request that the doctor provide a detailed report of the limitations imposed by the employee's disability.
  • Review the employee's workplace environment with representatives from other appropriate MIT offices, such as Safety, Industrial Hygiene, Facilities, and the Adaptive Technology Information Center.
  • Request the help of outside agencies, if necessary, in reviewing the reasonableness of the accommodation requested.
  • Review accommodation recommendations with the MIT Disabilities Coordinator, the MIT Human Resources Officer, and the employee.
  • The final determination for providing appropriate and reasonable accommodations rests with the Institute and will be provided to the employee in writing.
  • The cost of the accommodation is primarily the department's responsibility. Any concerns regarding the feasibility of funding the accommodation should be directed to the MIT Human Resources Manager of Disabilities Services, at (617) 253-4572.
  • The employee's right to privacy must be respected in compliance with the Americans with Disability Act and MIT's Policies & Procedures.

Learning Disabilities, ADD, ADHD, and Psychiatric Disabilities

Employees who want to receive reasonable accommodation as a result of a learning disability must meet these requirements:

  • Provide documentation of disability as described above in Guidelines for Documenting a Disability
  • Documentation should be a comprehensive assessment, and the resulting diagnostic report should include a diagnostic interview, assessment of aptitude, academic achievement, information processing, and a diagnosis.
  • Assessment and any resulting diagnosis should consist of and be based on a comprehensive assessment battery that does not rely on any one test or subtest.
  • The test findings should document both the nature and severity of the learning disability.
  • The following professionals would generally be considered qualified to evaluate specific learning disabilities, provided that they have additional training and experience in the assessment of learning problems in adults: clinical or educational psychologists, school psychologists, neuropsychologists, learning disabilities specialists, medical doctors, and other professionals.
  • Employees who request a reasonable accommodation for an Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder must also provide a statement of the presenting problem, evidence of early impairment, testing that verifies a pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity/impassivity that currently affects the functional limitation of the employee, identification of DSM-IV criteria for ADHD, and a report summary and rationale for accommodations using evidence from the evaluation.
  • Professionals approved for evaluating ADHD are licensed physicians, neuropsychologists, and psychologists.
  • Employees who request an accommodation for a psychiatric disability must provide documentation as described in the Guidelines for Documenting a Disability (above) in a written report from a psychiatrist, licensed psychologist, certified social worker (CSW or ACSW), or licensed professional counselor. The report must include the DSM-IV diagnosis and a summary of current symptoms.

Grievance Procedure

Applicants and employees with disabilities who believe that the provisions of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act have been violated or who have complaints of discrimination arising under Institute policies on the employment of a qualified individual with disabilities, are encouraged to seek recourse through the internal grievance procedures as described in MIT Policies and Procedures: A Guide for Faculty and Staff Members, and in the Employment Policy Manual.

Interviewing Candidates with Disabilities

MIT is obligated to provide reasonable accommodation during the interview process for candidates with disabilities. Supervisors should consult their Human Resources Officer or the Office of Disability Services at (617) 253-4572.

Talk to Someone

Employees may discuss their needs for accommodation with their supervisors, the Human Resources Officer assigned to their departments, or the Office of Disability Services at (617) 253-4572.

Additional Resources

Forms & Publications

Accommodations for Disabled Employees

Reasonable Accommodation Request Formpdf