Federal and state laws protecting people with disabilities are largely regulated by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. The acts extend civil rights protections for individuals with disabilities to employment in the public and private sectors, transportation, public accommodations, services provided by state and local government, and telecommunication relay services.

Public institutions of higher education are impacted by ADA because the act upholds and extends the standards for compliance set forth in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to employment practices, communications, and all policies, procedures and practices that impact on the treatment of students with disabilities.

Employment issues for all institutions are covered under Title I. For all activities, public institutions are covered under Title II; private institutions are covered under Title III. Disability access to institutions of higher education focus includes the whole scope of the institution’s activities, including programs, facilities and employment.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Justice are charged with the enforcement of ADA.

The ADA applies to all institutions of higher education regardless of receipt of federal funds. The Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs that receive federal financial assistance. The Rehabilitation Act standards mirror those of the ADA.

Under ADA, a “person with a disability” includes any individual:

  1. With a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities,
  2. With a record of such impairment, or
  3. Who is perceived or regarded by others as having such an impairment.

Employers are, hence, required to make reasonable accommodations to known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified job applicant or employee with a disability, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the business of the employer.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that:

“No otherwise qualified person with a disability in the United States...shall, solely by reason of...disability, be denied the benefits of, be excluded from participation in, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

A “qualified person with a disability” is defined as one who, with or without reasonable accommodation, meets the requisite academic and technical standards required for admission or participation in the postsecondary institution’s programs and activities or employment position.

For more information on the topic of disability

For students

Disability Services for Students

For faculty and staff

To request job accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, please contact institutional equity at (269) 387-6316. If you prefer to submit your request in writing, you may download the ADA Accommodation request form along with the Disability Verification form to initiate the process. The forms may be mailed to the ADA Coordinator at mailstop 5405 or fax to (269) 387-6312 (confidential fax).

Reporting a disability concern

To report an incident of bias, harassment, discrimination or retaliation related to a disability or accommodation, please email oie-info@wmich.edu.

Additional resources at Western Michigan University:

Accessibility Map

An interactive campus map that uses the familiar Google Maps interface. Get access to multiple WMU layers of information.

Locate campus buildings, drill down to information about the building. Get Google Maps directions to or from a campus building.

Overlays for campus parking, building accessibility, and mobility maps.


Western Michigan University (WMU) is committed to ensuring that faculty, staff, employees, job applicants, students, and others have equal access to its programs, will not be discriminated against based on having an actual or perceived disability, and will have the same opportunity to be successful in education, housing, and employment as those individuals who do not have disabilities.  WMU complies with requests for accommodations under the Americans with Disability Act, including the Amendments Act, (hereinafter ADA), Section § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (§ 504), the Fair Housing Standards Act (FHSA), the Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act, and other related laws and guidance.

Read the full policy in its entirety.

Appeal Procedures

If an employee requesting accommodations disagrees with the determination made by the ADA Coordinator/Decision-maker, an appeal maybe submitted in writing within 30 calendar days of the final disability determination. Individuals who wish to appeal a Reasonable Accommodation determination must contact the Reasonable Accommodation Committee (RAC), via the ADA Coordinator who will consider the appeal in accordance with its standard procedure and guidelines. The ADA Coordinator/Decision-maker will not participate in the appeal decision.

Employees may formally appeal an accommodation denial and/or modification. Employees must complete the Accommodations Outcome Appeal Form and provide a detailed explanation for the reasons they are seeking an appeal. An appeal can be made on the following grounds:

  •  A procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter
  •  New information that was not reasonably available at the time of the determination that could have affected the determination is now available
  •  The ADA Coordinator/Decision-maker has a conflict of interest or bias against the Appellant that affected the outcome
  •  Any other reason not specified above that identifies facts in the record that do not support the accommodation denial and/or modification or identify how the denial and/or modification was based on factors proscribed by state or federal law.

It is within the RAC’s discretion to decline an appeal review when the appellant does not provide sufficient information to meet the grounds for an appeal or the appeal is filed after 30 days of the final determination.

The RAC review will determine whether:

  • proper procedures were followed and all relevant information was gathered and fairly considered,
  • the requested accommodation fundamentally alters the nature of the program or an essential program standard,
  • the requested accommodation presents an undue hardship, financial or administrative burden to the institution,
  • the denial/modification is supported by the record and was not arbitrary or capricious,
  • the denial/modification is in compliance with the law,
  • any other factors the RAC deems relevant to the matter.

The RAC may request detailed information from the Appellant and/or ADA Coordinator/Decision-maker denying and/or modifying the request, and may solicit additional information from or consult with those previously involved in the accommodation decision, the overall unit head (dean, director, vice president), HR and other as deemed necessary and appropriate.

Maximum possible confidentiality will be maintained and information will only be shared on a “need to know” basis, if it appears necessary in order to decide the appeal.

The potential outcomes of an ADA appeal may include:

  1.  The decision to deny and/or modify the accommodation(s) is upheld.
  2. The decision to deny and/or modify the accommodation(s) is overturned and the appealing party and the relevant unit return to the Interactive Process to determine implementation of the accommodation.
  3. The RAC returns the issue to the Interactive Process with instruction to reevaluate reasonable accommodations.
  4. The appeal is dismissed for untimeliness or because insufficient information was provided by the appealing party initially or during the course of the review.

The RAC shall provide written notification of the appeal decision within 30 calendar days to the ADA Coordinator. The ADA Coordinator will provide the outcome to the appellant and other relevant parties.

Where a vice presidential area denies an accommodation request solely based on financial undue hardship, the University president, in consultation with the Office of the General Counsel, will make the final determination.

Individuals wishing to appeal may pursue other remedies such as filing a complaint with a federal or state department or agency without it affecting their right to prompt, fair consideration of their appeal to the University.  Use of the University's internal procedure is not necessary in order to pursue other remedies outlined in the Reasonable Accommodation Policy.