As part of its duties under the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 (“ADAAA”) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will provide reasonable accommodations to its “policies, practices, or procedures” when the accommodations are necessary to provide equal access to programming to participants with a qualifying disability. It will also provide auxiliary aids and services when they are necessary to provide equal access.
The process has the following five stages: (1) completion of the Reasonable Accommodation Request and Healthcare Provider Disability Documentation forms, (2) participants and parents are sent an agenda for the eligibility team meeting, (3) the eligibility meeting is conducted, (4) a determination letter is sent to participants, and (5) possible reassessment for future events.
Reasonable Accommodation Forms
To begin the process, participants or their guardians must fill out the Reasonable Accommodation Request and Healthcare Provider Disability Documentation forms. Alternatively, participants or their guardians can fill out the Accommodation Request Webform to make their initial request and a Healthcare Provider Disability Documentation form will be mailed to them.
The Reasonable Accommodation Request form, gives Extension and Outreach personnel the specifics of the request and the event for which the accommodation is requested. This form is vital for several reasons: (1) it will be used to determine who to include in the eligibility team, (2) it informs those who will be on the team an idea of what is being requested, and (3) it documents a time and date for the request.
The Healthcare Provider Disability Documentation form verifies that the participant is eligible for a reasonable accommodation under the law. This is to be filled out by a healthcare professional who has knowledge of the person's disability and further informs the eligibility team about the circumstances of the request. Under the law, a participant is qualified to receive a reasonable accommodation if they have a physical or mental impairment which substantially impacts at least one day-to-day activity. Since many Extension and Outreach programs pose risks to participants, it asks the healthcare professional to assess if there are any dangers posed by engaging in the program and if any measures can be taken to alleviate the risk. Finally, the healthcare professional is asked to assess how long the expected duration of the impairment is in order to inform future requests made during this participant's relationship with Extension and Outreach.
Assembling the Eligibility Team
After receiving the forms, Extension and Outreach staff will assemble an eligibility team comprising only of individuals who need to be aware of the request to brainstorm what reasonable accommodation can be made and to bring it to fruition. The team will vary depending on the nature of the event, but should almost always involve Equal Opportunity Extension Specialist Sean Nelson and the corresponding regional director. For instance, for events at the county or Iowa State Fair, judges and the fair board member will likely need to be in the loop about implementing a request, so they should be on the team. An agenda will be sent out to the participant and / or their guardian inviting them to the eligibility team meeting.
Eligibility Team Meeting
The eligibility team meeting should begin by giving an overview of the nature of the event. This will give the entire group the ability to assess what areas of the activity could be impacted by the limitations before brainstorming effective accommodations. The goal of the eligibility team meeting is to come to a consensus about how Extension and Outreach will be able to meet the needs of the participant for this particular event. If a consensus is reached, then it will be documented. If a consensus is not reached, then Extension and Outreach staff will determine a reasonable accommodation that meets the needs of the participant for that event.
After conducting the eligibility meeting, staff will inform the the participant and/or guardian of the proposed accommodations for the event on Extension and Outreach letterhead. This should be done within five days of the date of the eligibility meeting. This letter serves two purposes. It informs the participant and/or guardian of the reasonable accommodation which will be given. It also provides documentation for staff to review for future requests. Staff should also follow up to make sure that the necessary coordination is made to provide the reasonable accommodation outlined in the determination letter.
Reassessment for Future Events
A participant's engagement with Extension and Outreach programming can last several years. The goal of this process is to get a good understanding of the participant's limitations and to provide reasonable accommodations for all events throughout the Extension and Outreach system during that period without filling out additional requests. Additional forms may be necessary if the participant has a new disability, if the underlying limitations for an existing documented disability have changed or if the event is something impacted in a different way by existing limitations.