ADA compliant key on keyboard

ADA & Universal Design

The University of Vermont’s Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity office is responsible for ensuring the University is in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, at the same time striving to be an inclusive university using Universal Design methodology.

What does ADA do?

ADA is modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title V of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in private sector employment, services rendered by state and local governments, places of public accommodation, transportation, telecommunications and relay services. Our focus will be on employment which is Title I of the law.

Who is protected under ADA?

Under ADA a person has a disability, if they have a substantial physical or mental impairment, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment even if they are not continuously impaired by the disability, or has a personal relationship with someone with a known disability. Personal relationships are not limited to family members.

A substantial impairment is one that significantly limits or restricts a major life activity. It includes conditions controlled by medication such as epilepsy or depression or those mitigated by a prosthetic device.

Major life activities include:

  • Breathing
  • Eating
  • Caring for Oneself
  • Hearing
  • Learning
  • Performing Manual Tasks
  • Seeing
  • Walking
  • Working


What impairments are protected by ADA?

Examples of impairments or disabilities that will be protected by ADA include:

  • AIDS
  • Alcohol/Drug Addiction*
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Cosmetic Deformities
  • Diabetes
  • Mental Illness
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart Disease
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Loss of Limbs
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Orthopedic Conditions
  • Tuberculosis

*ADA protects individuals who are recovering from alcoholism or drug addiction, if they are participating in a supervised rehabilitation program or have been rehabilitated successfully.

What is not protected?

In most cases, temporary or non disabling impairments, environmental conditions and alternative lifestyles are not protected. A person currently engaging in the illegal use of drugs is not considered an individual with a disability. This refers both to the illegal use of unlawful drugs such as cocaine as well as prescription drugs.

Examples of what is not covered under ADA include:

  • Height/Weight
  • Old Age
  • Pregnancy
  • Sprains
  • Left Handed Disorders
  • Poor Judgment



What are the obligations of the Supervisor/Institution?

You are obligated as a supervisor to:

  • Determine essential job functions based on a written job description prior to advertising.
  • Provide reasonable accommodation as long as it does not result in undue hardship.
  • Adhere to nondiscriminatory hiring practices as outlined in University policy and the ADA laws.



The University of Vermont, under the guidelines of ADA complies with 504 federal legislation, is required to make reasonable accommodations both physical and mental limitations of otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities and to help provide the best possible service. Contact the Affirmative Action & Equal Opportunity Office at 656-3368 for assistance with accommodations.

For additional assistance staff and faculty can also contact the Employee Relations office at 656-8623. For students you can contact the ACCESS office at 656-7753 For TTY access call 711 (relay).

Student Accessibility Services

SAS provides accommodations to students with documented disabilities. Visit the Student Accessibility Services website.