Accommodating Disabilities in Faculty Recruitment and Interviewing

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As an employer, Lehigh University is subject to both Section 503/504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. To be covered by the law, a person must currently have an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. The Supreme Court, in interpreting eligibility, has decided that when judging whether or not an individual has a disability recognized by the law, one must take into account any corrective measures that are being used to control or overcome the impairment, such as corrective eyeglasses, medication to control diabetes or other illnesses.

For assistance in preparing to evaluate or interview a candidate with a disability, contact the Lehigh University Human Resource office, or refer to their website at

One provision of the laws on disability is that the university must provide reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with disabilities who are able to perform the essential functions of the job in question. Individuals are more than the injuries they have. Candidates with disabilities may include (but are not limited to):
  • Mobility impairments-People who use wheelchairs can hold physically demanding jobs and need not be confined to desk jobs.
  • Blind or visually impaired-A person’s visual acuity may change under different light conditions. Keep in mind that visual impairment is not necessarily total lack of vision. Most individuals who are legally blind do have some vision. Use appropriate technologies that exist to assist people with visual impairments.
  • Hearing impairments-Be aware that there are varying degrees of hearing impairments. Many utilize technology to compensate.
  • Muscular impairments or neurological limitations, such as Cerebral Palsy
  • Mental illness

These requirements should be well understood by those involved in a search process. All employers must be sensitive to the barriers faced by the qualified individuals with disabilities and must ensure that they have the same opportunity as all other applicants to be considered fairly for positions at the university. This may require providing accommodations in the interview process or in testing. In addition, we must clearly identify the essential functions of the job in order to determine whether or not each applicant can perform those tasks, with or without reasonable accommodations. When conducting an interview, all questions must be job-related and focus on the candidate’s ability to successfully perform the essential functions of the job. All interviews should be held at a location that is accessible. Qualified candidates cannot be rejected for employment because they need, or it is thought that they need reasonable accommodations. It is important to note that the cost of potential accommodations should also not be considered when making employment decisions. Although it is important to understand that people with the same disability or functional limitation may not have the same needs.