Resources for Individuals with Disabilities

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The Office for Institutional Equity promotes Duke's commitment to providing an open and supportive environment for all members of the Duke University and Duke Health community. This page provides information specific to people with disabilities, but all members of the Duke community are welcome to explore the resources collected on this page.

Voluntary Self-Identification

Voluntarily self-identifying is a good thing and it helps to make improvements and changes. Duke strives for equal opportunity in recruitment, hiring, appointment, and promotion to its employees and applicants for employment, without regard to disability, active military duty status, or veteran status. Personnel policies are reviewed regularly to ensure that veterans and individuals with disabilities are given careful considerations for all jobs for which they qualify.

If you are a disabled person, veteran or active military, we invite you to share your status with Duke. Doing so will help us monitor and advance our equal opportunity policies. Self-identification is voluntary, but we hope that you will choose to self-identify. Any answer you give will be kept confidential and will not be used against you, except as provided by law.

For more information about self-identifying as an individual with disabilities, veteran, or active military, please contact your unit's payroll representative or Duke Human Resources at 919-684-5600. Alternatively, you may follow these steps:

  1. Log in to Duke@Work
  2. Under the “My Info” tab, click “My Profile”
  3. Under the My Profile heading, look for “Review and Update your Race, Ethnicity, Veteran and Disability Status” and click the link. It's right above Duke Account Services
  4. A pop-up window will appear. Follow the instructions and click the "Next" button at the bottom until you reach the final, Confirmation.



Learn More

Review the Office of Disability Employment Policy.

Review the Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability form that Duke University uses to help ensure equal opportunities for people with disabilities.



Disability Status Definitions

  • Episodic or Remission: An impairment that is episodic or in remission is a disability if it would substantially limit a major life activity when active.
  • Individual with a Disability: Any individual who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. Disability determinations must be made “without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures” such as medication, hearing aids, other technology, reasonable accommodations, “learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications” or other such interventions – with the exception of ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses.
  • Major Life Activities: In order for a disability to be covered by the ADA, an impairment must substantially limit one or more major life activities. Examples include but are not limited to caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, working, and the operation of a major bodily function including but not limited to functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.
  • Mental Impairment: Any mental or psychological disorder, such as intellectual disabilities (formerly called “mental retardation”), organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.
  • Physical Impairment: Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, immune, circulatory, hemic and lymphatic, skin, and endocrine.
  • Reasonable Accommodation: Reasonable accommodation is a critical component of the ADA’s assurance of nondiscrimination. It is any change in the work environment, or in the way things are usually done, that results in equal employment opportunity for an individual with a disability. An employer must make a reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental limitations of a qualified applicant or employee with a disability, unless it can show that the accommodation would cause an undue hardship. Some examples of reasonable accommodations include: Making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to, and usable by, an individual with a disability; Restructuring a job, modifying work schedules, reassigning to a vacant position; Acquiring or modifying equipment or devices; Modifying examinations, training materials, or policies providing qualified readers or interpreters. An employer is not required to lower quality or quantity standards to make an accommodation; nor is an employer obligated to provide personal use items, such as glasses, hearing aids, or wheelchairs as accommodations.
  • Record of a Substantially Limiting Condition: ADA Technical Assistance Guidelines state that this protected group includes a person who has a history of an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity but who has recovered from the impairment. Examples of individuals who have a history of impairments are persons who have histories of mental or emotional illness, drug addiction, alcoholism, heart disease, or cancer.
  • Regarded as having such an impairment: An individual meets the requirement of “being regarded as having such an impairment” if the individual establishes that he or she has been subjected to a prohibited action because of an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment, whether or not the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity. The ADA protects certain persons who are regarded by a private entity as having a physical or mental impairment against adverse actions based on that belief.
  • Substantially Limits: An impairment only qualifies as a “disability” under the ADA if it substantially limits one or more major life activities. However, Congress rejected the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of “substantially limits” as well as EEOC’s regulation, “severely restrict” and “significantly restrict,” respectively. The determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity must be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures such as: Medication, medical supplies, equipment, or appliances, low-vision devices (which do not include ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses), prosthetics including limbs and devices, hearing aids and cochlear implants or other implantable hearing devices, mobility devices, or oxygen therapy equipment and supplies; Use of assistive technology; Reasonable accommodations or auxiliary aids or services; or Learned behavioral or adaptive neurological modifications. The ameliorative effects of the mitigating measures of ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses shall be considered in determining whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity. The term “ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses” means lenses that are intended to fully correct visual acuity or eliminate refractive error. The term “low-vision devices” means devices that magnify, enhance, or otherwise augment a visual image.
  • Transitory and Minor Impairments: A transitory impairment is an impairment with an actual or expected duration of 6 months or less.
  • Undue Hardship: Excessively costly, extensive, substantial, or disruptive, or that would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business. In determining undue hardship, factors to be considered include the nature and cost of the accommodation in relation to the size, the financial resources, the nature and structure of the employer's operation, as well as the impact of the accommodation on the specific facility providing the accommodation. An employer is not required to provide an accommodation if it will impose an undue hardship on the operation of its business.



Need Accommodations?

The Disability Management System (DMS) is the office at Duke charged with the responsibility of working with qualified employees with disabilities in exploring possible coverage and associated necessary and appropriate accommodations for purposes of Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.

Should you have concerns or questions regarding employee accommodations and resources, please contact the Employment and Visitor Accommodations office within the Disability Managment System (DMS).


Shonda Desir, Director
Phone: 919-684-8247

Sarah Exum, Program Coordinator
Phone: 919-668-1278

For general inquiries, please email



Know Your Rights

Complaints & Concerns

Learn how to file a discrimination complaint. For information on grievance procedures, contact the Office for Institutional Equity at 919-684-8222.



Contact Us

Phone: 919-684-8222
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