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Careers

Guidelines Offered For Disabled Faculty

by Cheryl Hogue
February 13, 2012 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 90, ISSUE 7

Every faculty member must be able to perform certain “essential functions” regardless of any physical or mental disabilities they may have and for which they are provided “reasonable accommodations.” This was the message of an American Association of University Professors report containing guidelines on the rights and responsibilities of faculty members with physical or mental disabilities. Examples of essential functions that a faculty member must be able to perform, with or without accommodation for a disability, include mental agility, mastery of a complex subject, and ethical behavior, the report says. The report also describes an interactive process between an institution and a faculty member to establish reasonable accommodation for a disability, such as modifying physical spaces or adjusting a teaching schedule. It also warns against requests for inappropriate accommodations, such as refusal to teach undergraduates or demand for a part-time position with a full-time salary. “With suitable accommodations, a faculty member who has a physical or mental disability may perform equally well as, or even better than, a colleague who does not have a disability,” the report says.

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