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Navigating Disability Accommodations, including those affecting instruction

The procedures and resources outlined below guide UC Davis in administering disability accommodations and related policies, such as for medical leaves. The goal of all of these policies is to provide reasonable accommodation to faculty and other academic appointees with a disability, on a temporary or long-term basis, so they can perform the essential functions of their position.

The information on this site is intended to provide clear, equitable and consistent guidance on accommodation-related processes for all academic appointees and their departments, along with guidance concerning instruction.

Disability Accommodations - Policy Statement and Definitions


The University provides reasonable accommodations to qualified academic appointees with a disability who need assistance to perform the essential functions of their positions. See APM 711. The accommodation process begins with a dialogue that occurs between the university and the appointee, coordinated by Disability Management Services (DMS). DMS works with the appointee and the department chair/unit head to consider suitable options that will assist the appointee in performing their essential functions. DMS maintains the confidentiality of all medical information shared by the appointee, and only shares information about the appointee’s limitations with others who have a business need to know. Please see the DMS site for more details about reasonable accommodations and the interactive process.

Sick Leave/Medical Leave

In some cases, a reasonable disability accommodation includes medical leave, described in APM 710. This policy outlines medical leave options for academic appointees depending on their title or affiliations. For example, faculty who are in the Health Sciences Compensation Plan (HSCP) will follow their School’s relevant Implementing Procedures. Faculty who are not members of the HSCP are eligible for specific amounts of medical leave (by quarter/semester) depending on their years of service and usage. Other academic titles accrue sick leave, while represented academics follow their bargaining agreements.

For any questions on leave options, academic appointees should work with their departments.

Medical Separation

After exhausting the interactive process, if it is determined that the academic appointee remains unable to return to work and/or perform all the essential functions of their academic position with or without accommodation, the academic appointee and DMS will work together to determine if there are any suitable options for reassignment. If all reassignment options have been adequately considered, the department may initiate a medical separation request. After the required medical separation review has been completed, the academic appointee may be medically separated, pursuant to APM 080 or the applicable collective bargaining agreement. Appointees may be eligible for UC Retirement Benefits.


Teaching and Instruction: Information for Instructors and Department Chairs

The UC Academic Senate holds responsibility for authorization and supervision of courses (Regents Bylaw 40.1). The Davis Division of the Academic Senate’s Committee on Courses of Instruction (COCI) must approve all requests for new courses and modifications to existing courses offered at UC Davis. This approval authority includes the course’s learning activities and whether the course is taught in person, virtually, or a hybrid. If there is a long-term need for a hybrid or virtual course due to the instructor’s disability or medical condition, the department may submit a request to COCI, following its policy.

Note - Quarter length courses in which fewer than ten contact hours per quarter are conducted online do not need to be classified as hybrid or virtual. (Contact hours are defined as time when instructors are presenting to or interacting with students, e.g., lecture, laboratory, discussion. Contact hours do not include office hours.

If an instructor with a medical disability has limitations specifically affecting their ability to teach in-person in the classroom, they should:
  • Notify
    • Notify their department chair and contact DMS at DMS will help facilitate the interactive process and identify options for reasonable accommodation. DMS works with the appointee and the department chair to try to find accommodations that enable the appointee to complete their essential functions.
  • Roles
    • The Office of Academic Affairs provides overall support and oversight of academic policies and academic personnel matters. Academic Affairs will also assist in advising on complicated matters and in supporting the documentation of approved accommodations.
    • DMS is only involved to facilitate the process for academic appointees seeking accommodations for their own medical disability/limitations. 
    • The dean’s office supports departments as needed, including assisting in considering accommodation options and additional resources. The dean’s office should be in concurrence with any final accommodations proposed.
    • The department chair provides assistance and support to their faculty member in considering the options that may be available under the individual circumstances, connects the faculty member with DMS when appropriate, and seeks consultation with the dean’s office and Academic Affairs as needed.  The department chair approves recommendations for accommodations for academic appointees in concurrence with the dean’s office.
  • Documentation
    • Documentation of approved accommodations are maintained in confidential files in DMS, the department office and in Academic Affairs, separate from the official personnel file or advancement dossier for appointees.
If an instructor who does not have personal medical limitations or a disability wishes to request alternative instruction options, they should:
  • Work directly with their department chair to consider what options may be possible.

  • Roles  
    • The department chair works to support to their faculty member in considering the options that may be available under the individual circumstances, and seeks consultation with the dean’s office and Academic Affairs as needed. Determines what, if any, adjustments can be made.   

Note: DMS only assists in requests that are related to an academic appointee’s own medical disability/limitations. 

Department chairs may consider the following options for those instructors seeking accommodations or adjustments related to instructional responsibilities:
  • The department chair can encourage an instructor with personal medical limitations to work with DMS confidentially to help the instructor identify accommodation options for the chair’s consideration and approval. The department chair should not ask for information about the instructor’s condition or its expected duration, but instead have access only to information about limitations that affect the essential functions of the job.
  • If the department has existing virtual or hybrid courses in their catalog, the department chair can consider assigning one or more of those courses to the instructor in need of remote accommodation.
  • The department chair can propose shifting the workload to later in the academic year for instructors who seek an accommodation based on a temporary disability or medical situation. The chair can work with DMS to manage this process to assess if this is an appropriate option and help with the resulting necessary documentation. If the instructor will not be able to teach in-person for a longer period, they would be expected to propose, in coordination with their department, a hybrid or virtual course per COCI policy.
  • The department chair can think creatively about instructional duties that can be completed in lieu of official hybrid and virtual courses:
    • Could the instructor be paired with another instructor to co-teach, and teaching tasks be split in a way that allows for remote work? Example: In a seminar course with many guest speakers, the remote instructor could be in charge of recruiting and scheduling guest speakers, creating and grading assignments, handling student email correspondence, and running a few online class sessions, etc., while the in-person instructor attends and ensures that the seminar sessions run smoothly.

    • If there is an instructor who oversees/administers internships, practicums, or honors theses, could that work be completed remotely?

    • Are there 98, 198, or 298 courses that the department plans to offer? Those courses can be offered remotely without additional approval from COCI.

If the department does not have any hybrid or virtual courses in their catalog, they may want to consider if there is pedagogical rationale for offering a course virtually. If so, they should submit a request to COCI for a new hybrid or virtual course as soon as possible.  Note that the approval process requires some time, so those courses may not be available in the current quarter, but they may be available for subsequent quarters, which would allow additional flexibility to the department chair in assigning teaching.