Information on Disabilities for Faculty and Staff

What You Need to Know About Disabilities

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a person with a disability is one who:

  • Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity* 
  • Has a record or history of such an impairment 
  • Is regarded as having such impairment 

*Major life activities include, but are not limited to, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself and performing manual tasks. These impairments may exist in those with chronic health impairments, learning disabilities, emotional disturbances, physical disabilities, etc.

Three Main Categories of Disabilities:


  • Obvious physical disabilities or Injuries, including carpal tunnel 
  • Blind/low vision 
  • Deaf/hard of hearing 
  • Chronic illness 


  • Learning disabilities affecting one’s ability to read (dyslexia and other visual processing disorders), write (dysgraphia), listen , speak, reason, do math (dyscalculia), or pay attention (ADHD and other processing disorders) 
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) 


  • Depression 
  • Anxiety
  • Bi-polar disorder 
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) 
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 
  • Eating disorders 
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Schizophrenia 
  • Tourette Syndrome 
  • Phobias 
  • Post-traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD)

All disabilities are equally covered by the ADA. How a student is affected is much more important than the diagnosis.

In order to be admitted to a university, a student must be “otherwise qualified,” that is, must meet the admissions requirements for the institution. An applicant’s disability cannot be the sole reason for denying admission; however, certain disabilities will prevent an applicant from being qualified if that disability causes the student not to have met certain admissions requirements. For example, a student who has not passed high school algebra may not meet admission requirements regardless of the presence of dyscalculia or a traumatic brain injury.

Process for Accessing Services for Students with Disabilities

Reducing the Need for Accomodations

Information on Disabilities for Faculty and Staff (printable version)