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Index > Operations Policies > Americans with Disabilities Policy

Americans with Disabilities Policy


The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines to the RISD community to assure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA") (as amended).


This policy covers qualified employees and applicants for employment with disabilities. The ADA defines disability with respect to an individual as:

  • a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities or major bodily functions;
  • a record of such an impairment; or
  • being regarded as having such an impairment.

The ADA also:

  • prohibits discrimination against individuals based on their relationship or association with an individual with a disability;
  • prohibits retaliation or coercion against individuals who opposed any acts made unlawful by the ADA, participated in the enforcement process, or encouraged others to exercise their rights under the ADA; and
  • covers part time employees and applicants regardless of national origin or status.


The ADA prohibits discrimination against a qualified individual with a disability on the basis of that individual’s disability in, among other things, employment and the employment relationship. RISD is committed to complying with all applicable provisions of the ADA. It is RISD’s policy not to discriminate against any qualified employee or applicant with regard to any terms or conditions of employment because of such individual’s disability or perceived disability so long as the employee can perform the essential functions of the job.

Further, RI state law protects employees and job applicants from discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth and related conditions. Employees and applicants have the right under state law to request a reasonable accommodation for conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions such as the need to express breast milk for a nursing child.

Consistent with this policy of nondiscrimination, RISD will provide reasonable accommodations to a qualified individual with a disability, as defined by the ADA, who has made RISD aware of their disability, provided that such accommodation does not constitute an undue hardship on RISD.

In determining whether a requested accommodation creates an undue hardship on the College, the appropriate College personnel will consider on a case-by-case basis whether such a request is unduly costly, extensive, substantial, or disruptive and/or whether it would fundamentally alter the nature of the College’s operation.


Applicants for employment with a disability who believe they need reasonable accommodation should contact Human Resources and ask to speak to the Director of Employment.

Employees with a disability who believe they need a reasonable accommodation to perform the essential functions of their job should contact the Human Resources Department. RISD encourages individuals with disabilities to come forward and request reasonable accommodation.

On receipt of an accommodation request, a member of the Human Resources Department will initiate a process so that you, your healthcare provider, and RISD share information about the nature of the disability and the precise limitations resulting from the disability that may affect your ability to perform your job. During the interactive process, you, your supervisor and Human Resources will explore the potential accommodation(s) that RISD might make to help overcome those limitations.

RISD will determine the feasibility of the requested accommodation considering various factors, including, but not limited to, the nature and cost of the accommodation and the accommodation’s impact on the operations of RISD, including its impact on the ability of other employees to perform their duties and on RISD’s ability to conduct business.

RISD will inform the employee of its decision on the accommodation request or on how to make the accommodation. The ADA does not require RISD to make the best possible accommodation when other less intrusive accommodations would be sufficient, to reallocate essential job functions, or to provide personal use items (i.e., eyeglasses, hearing aids, wheelchairs, etc.).

An employee or job applicant who has questions regarding this policy or who believes that they have been discriminated against based on a disability should notify the Vice President for Human Resources. All such inquiries or complaints will be treated as confidential and shared only on a “need to know” basis.

Revision history

This policy was last reviewed/modified on: 11/30/2020

Next scheduled review will be on the following date or as needed: 10/19/2021


Issuing Office

Office of Human Resources

Responsible Officer

Vice President for Human Resources

Individuals/offices required for review and changes

Director of Employment

Office of the General Counsel