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Disability Accommodations

If you have a qualified disability and need assistance to complete your work, you can apply for a disability accommodation.

Accommodations can include such things as work site accessibility, flexible work arrangements, and/or equipment such as assistive listening devices,  a voice amplification system, or a “screen reader.” Other reasonable accommodations will be considered.

Staff from Medical Leaves Administration are always willing to meet with faculty and staff regarding any medical leave or disability accommodation issues.

Video Transcript

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[SUZANNE] My name is Suzanne Carreiro and I'm a Case

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Manager in Medical Leaves Administration.
Today I want to give you a brief overview

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of ADA accommodations at Cornell University.

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Employers are required to provide reasonable
accommodations for those with a disability.

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Disabilities may include mental or
physical impairments that substantially

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limit one or more major life activities.
Accommodations are meant to ensure equal

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opportunity in the job application process,
to enable qualified individuals to perform the

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essential functions of a job, and to make
it possible for employees with a disability

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to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.

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Some examples of accommodations include
physical changes to the workplace, such as a ramp or

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changes to the layout of a workspace, assistive technologies,
such as voice to text applications,

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accessible communication interventions,
such as interpreters and captioning, and

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policy enhancements, such as allowing flexible scheduling
to attend medical appointments and

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treatments. Cornell's Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention
Program, or MIPP, is also available

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to all staff and faculty free of charge.
MIPP can visit your office and provide a

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full ergonomic evaluation with suggestions
for changes that could be supplied through

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the ADA process to enhance workplace access, comfort and

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productivity. If you have a disability or medical
issue for which you might need accommodations,

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please visit 'Benefits Pay and Perks'
to read about accommodations and find

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the accommodation request forms you will need to apply.

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One part of the application form is
for the employee to fill out, and the

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other is for the medical provider to fill out.
These completed forms should be sent

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to Medical Leaves and a case manager will reach
out to begin the interactive process.

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The interactive process includes discussing the
request with both the employee and the

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department to determine potential impacts to
the work, and if there are additional or

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alternative accommodations to consider. Medical and
diagnosis information is never shared with

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your department. Determinations are reached based
on guidance from the Americans with

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Disabilities Act. Feel free to reach out
to Medical Leaves at any time if you have

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questions about employment accommodations,
the email address is

Qualified Medical Conditions

Under the law and Cornell policy, a disability is defined as follows:

  • A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; a record of such an impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment. The impairment must be of permanent or of extended (at least three months) duration; conditions that are intermittent or are in remission qualify as a disability if, when active, the condition substantially limits one or more major life activities.
  • Major life activities include “major bodily functions” and such activities as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, sitting, reaching, interacting with others, and working.
  • Examples of conditions that are considered covered disabilities include deafness, blindness, intellectual disability, partially or completely missing limbs, autism, cancer, cerebral palsy, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, major depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Examples of conditions that are not considered covered disabilities include the common cold, seasonal or common influenza, a sprained joint, minor and non-chronic gastrointestinal disorders, a broken bone expected to heal completely, appendicitis, and seasonal allergies.

Major bodily functions include functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, circulatory, respiratory, endocrine, hemic, lymphatic, musculoskeletal, special sense organs and skin, genitourinary and cardiovascular systems, and reproductive functions.


The Disability Accommodation Process is set forth in University Policy 6.13, which applies to faculty and academic and nonacademic staff, including regular, temporary and casual staff members. View the full policy.

Decision Process

The process is a confidential, interactive one, with possibly several individuals involved.

  • The employee is responsible for initiating requests for a disability-related workplace accommodation by contacting their supervisor, human resources representative or Medical Leaves Administration (MLA) to engage in the interactive process with MLA and the department. To initiate the process, fill out the accommodation request form (pdf) and return to MLA. (The contents of the form are confidential, and the form will not be placed in the employment record file.)
  • MLA will need disability accommodation verification form (pdf) to support the request. Do not give medical records to your supervisor.
  • Supervisors notify the appropriate human resources representative of any employee accommodation requests brought to their attention.
  • Human Resource representatives refer employees to MLA when notified of a request for accommodation.
  • Applicants for employment requesting an accommodation for a disability so that they may participate in the selection process should contact the Office of Institutional Equity and Title IX (OIETIX).
  • MLA and OIETIX review these requests in accordance with the policy, make a determination, and then a recommendation for reasonable accommodation.
  • The supervisor and the department are responsible for implementing the recommended accommodation.
  • The HR representative is available to assist with the implementation of the recommended accommodation.

Self-Disclosing a Disability

Whether you consider yourself an individual with a disability or not, we invite current faculty and staff to voluntarily self-identify their disability status. By self-identifying, you help Cornell more accurately determine the diversity of our workforce and ensure individuals with disabilities are supported and represented throughout the University.

Use Workday to self-disclose a disability. Add or edit this information within your personal information section.

Workplace Evaluations

Employees with or without a qualified disability who still experience physical discomfort in the workplace and/or have physical difficulty meeting job demands may contact the Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention Program (MIPP) . Faculty and staff may request evaluation, training and design/planning consultation to prevent injury or disability and to enhance work comfort and productivity. MIPP services are available at no charge courtesy of HR Services & Transitions Center.

Job Seekers

Applicants for employment requesting an accommodation for a disability so that they may participate in the selection process should contact the Office of Institutional Equity and Title IX (OIETX):

Frequently Asked Questions

I need to park next to my workplace due to a medical condition. How do I arrange that?

  • Faculty, staff and visitors may contact Transportation Services to request accessible transportation options to campus to accommodate temporary or long-term medical conditions. For many individuals, a perimeter area parking permit and bus pass are viable, accessible transportation options. Short-term accessible parking permits for up to two months can be issued at the direction of a medical professional. Transportation Services will issue these permits at no charge for general accessible parking spaces across campus.
  • Faculty and staff members needing longer term accessible parking must obtain a municipal placard from the town/municipal clerk of their places of residence, or accessibility license plates from the Department of Motor Vehicles (Department of Motor Vehicles Accessible Permit Application Form)[pdf]. With such identification, there is a variety of long-term accessible parking options. Note that the process does not automatically grant a permit that allows you to park next to your workplace, but works to determine the most reasonable transportation accommodation for you. For more information visit Transportation Services.

Do I need to request a disability accommodation for workplace evaluation or modification? I just want someone to look at my workplace setup because my back hurts at the end of the day.

  • No.  The consultants of the Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention Program (MIPP) are available to assist all Cornell employees. Faculty and staff may request evaluation, training and design/planning consultation to prevent injury or disability and to enhance work comfort and productivity. Typically, services are available at no charge courtesy of HR Services & Transitions Center. Employees experiencing discomfort at work or having difficulty meeting job demands are encouraged to contact the MIPP for help in determining if work environment or practices can be adjusted. 
  • As an integral member of the Medical Leaves Administration team, the MIPP is also a valuable resource in response to injury or formal disability accommodation.  On-site workplace evaluations with Occupational Therapists and certified ergonomics evaluation professionals help to ensure that employees can remain at work successfully.   Examples may include:
    • Improving access to the work environment
    • Accommodating medical and light-duty restrictions
    • Matching job responsibilities with worker capabilities
    • Recommending adaptive equipment
  • For more information, contact the Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention Program (MIPP) at t. 607.255.1360 | f. 607.255.1888

I can't access information on a Cornell website. What should I do?

  • Cornell University is committed to making our websites accessible to everyone, including individuals with disabilities. To report a problem or to request an accommodation to access online materials, information, resources and/or services, please contact In your message, include the website address or URL and the specific problems you have encountered.