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Education Kit 2000 Glossary

By U.S. Department of Labor,
Office of Disability Employment Policy,
Constitution Avenue, NW,
Washington, DC 20210, U.S.A.

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Accessible: Easy to approach, enter, operate, participate in, or use safely, independently and with dignity by a person with a disability (i.e., site, facility, work environment, service or program).

Affirmative Action: Proactive action to accomplish the purposes of a program which is designed to increase the employment opportunities of certain groups, which may involve goals, timetables, or specifically outlined steps to be undertaken to assure that objectives are reached. The Americans with Disabilities Act does not mandate affirmative action for persons with disabilities, but does require that covered entities ensure nondiscrimination. Title 5, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act does require that affirmative action be taken in employment of persons with disabilities by Federal contractors.

Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR): A variety of procedures for the resolution of disputes. Each ADR procedure is a fair and efficient alternative to court adjudication that must be entered into voluntarily by all parties. Some of the more common ADR procedures include arbitration, mediation, and conciliation. ADR is encouraged under the Americans with Disabilities Act to resolve conflicts.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): A comprehensive civil rights law which makes it unlawful to discriminate in private sector employment against a qualified individual with a disability. The ADA also outlaws discrimination against individuals with disabilities in state and local government services, employment, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunication. The law was enacted in July 1990. The private sector employment provisions (Title I) became effective for employers with 25 or more employees on July 26, 1992, and on July 26, 1994, for employers of 15 or more employees. The public sector employment provisions (Title II) became effective on January 26, 1992.

Auxiliary Aids and Services: Devices or services that accommodate a functional limitation of a person with a communication-related disability. The term includes qualified interpreters and communication devices for persons who are deaf or persons who are hard of hearing; qualified readers, taped texts, braille or other devices for persons with visual impairments; adaptive equipment for persons with other communication disabilities; or similar services and actions.

Essential Job Functions: The fundamental job duties of the employment position that the individual with a disability holds or desires. The term essential functions does not include marginal functions of the position.

Equal Employment Opportunity: Nondiscrimination in hiring, firing, compensation, promotion, recruitment, training, and other terms and conditions of employment regardless of race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin or disability.

Individual with a Disability: A person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of that person’s major life activities, has a record of such impairment, or who is regarded as having such an impairment.

Job Coach: A person hired by the placement agency or provided through the employer to furnish specialized on-site training to assist an employee with a disability in learning and performing a job and adjusting to the work environment.

Major Life Activity: Basic activities that the average person in the general population can perform with little or no difficulty, such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working.

Mentoring: Mentoring is an educational process where the mentor serves as a role model, trusted counselor or teacher who provides opportunities for professional development, growth and support to less experienced individuals in career planning or employment settings. Individuals receive information, encouragement and advice as they plan their careers.

Natural Supports: Supports provided to an employee with a disability from supervisors and co-workers, such as mentoring, friendship, socializing at breaks or after work, providing feedback on job performance or learning a new skill together. These natural supports are particularly effective as they enhance the social integration of the employee with a disability with his or her co-workers and supervisor. In addition, natural supports are more permanent, part of the workplace and more readily available than paid job coaches, thereby facilitating long-term job retention.

Qualified Individual with a Disability: An individual with a disability who satisfies the requisite skill, experience, education and other job-related requirements of the employment position such individual holds or desires, and who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of such position.

Readily Achievable: Easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense. In determining whether an action is readily achievable, factors to be considered include nature and cost of the action, overall financial resources and the effect on expenses and resources, legitimate safety requirements, impact on the operation of a site and, if applicable, overall financial resources, size and type of operation of any parent corporation or entity.

Reasonable Accommodation: (1) Modification or adjustment to a job application process that enables a qualified applicant with a disability to be considered for the position such qualified applicant desires; (2) modifications or adjustments to the work environment, or to the manner or circumstances under which the position held or desired is customarily performed, that enables qualified individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of that position; or (3) modifications or adjustments that enable a covered entity’s employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by its other similarly situated employees without disabilities.

Supported Employment: An employment option that facilitates competitive work in integrated work settings for individuals with the most severe disabilities (i.e., psychiatric, mental retardation, significant learning disabilities, traumatic brain injury) for whom competitive employment has not traditionally occurred, and who, because of the nature and severity of their disability, need ongoing support services in order to perform their job. Supported employment provides assistance such as job coaches, transportation, assistive technology, specialized job training and individually tailored supervision.

Title V of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973: Title of the law which prohibits discrimination on the basis of a disability by the Federal government, Federal contractors, by recipients of Federal financial assistance, and in Federally-conducted programs and activities.

Undue Hardship: With respect to the provision of an accommodation, significant difficulty or expense incurred by a covered entity, when considered in light of certain factors. These factors include the nature and cost of the accommodation in relationship to the size, resources, nature, and structure of the employer’s operation. Where the facility making the accommodation is part of a larger entity, the structure and overall resources of the larger organization would be considered, as well as the financial and administrative relationship of the employing facility to the larger organization.

Vocational Rehabilitation: Programs designed to assist individuals with disabilities enter or reenter gainful employment.

Sources for these definitions include the Americans with Disabilities Act, its implementing regulations and Title V of the Rehabilitation Act.

July 2000


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