Skip to main content

Faculty and Staff Disability Resources

Swarthmore College welcomes employees with disabilities to participate fully in all aspects of employment and in all College programs and activities. Our policy is consistent with relevant governmental statutes and regulations, including those pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Complying with these laws helps Swarthmore achieve its goal of offering equal employment opportunities to all qualified individuals, helps tap an under-utilized employee population and adds to the diversity of the College community.

Human Resources Office

The HR Manager, Leaves and Wellness, Lisa Pierce,, (610-690-5620), should be contacted to assist current employees that may require an accommodation.

Provost's Office

The Provost's Office (610-328-8319), can be contacted for assistance if an applicant with a disability may require an accommodation when applying for a faculty position.

Self Identification and Confidentiality

Disclosure of a disability is a voluntary process. The College keeps documentation concerning disabilities separate from an employee's personnel records in accord with all applicable regulations. Information and records are shared with members of the College staff and faculty only on a need-to-know basis. Any staff or faculty member involved in implementing an accommodation are advised that disability matters are confidential and should not be shared with others.

Rights and Responsibilities

Faculty and staff members with disabilities have the right to:

  • reasonable accommodations, auxiliary aids and services as necessary
  • privacy with regards to disability-related information, except as disclosures required or permitted by law
  • equal access to programs, activities, and services

Faculty and staff members with disabilities have the responsibility to:

  • meet the skills, abilities and experience requirements necessary to perform the essential functions of the position for which they are applying or the position they occupy with or without a reasonable accommodation
  • disclose their disability to the HR Manager, Leaves & Wellness in order to request accommodations
  • follow procedures for requesting accommodations
  • provide the required documentation of disability 

Obtaining an Accommodation

Faculty and staff members who require an accommodation can send an email to Lisa Pierce, HR Manager, Leaves and Wellness, for assistance. The HR Manager, Leaves and Wellness will review all pertinent College policies with the employee, e.g., leave benefits, FMLA, confidentiality, EAP, etc.

At the time of the request for an accommodation, the College requests a completed Request for Accommodation form and medical documentation from a health care provider with expertise of the serious medical condition and recommend accommodations.  Once returned a dialog is begun between the individual and the College to consider all possible accommodations. Working together, a decision is made of the most appropriate and reasonable accommodations for the employee that also does not negatively affect the College financially or operationally. 

Illnesses that are progressive may require accommodations beyond those made initially. The College is committed to open dialog if an illness progresses and further accommodations are required for the employee to continue doing the essential functions of the positions.

Enhanced Wayfinding and Assistance for People with Visual Disabilities

We provide all community members and visitors with access to Aira, a live, human-to-human remote assistance service. Highly-skilled, professional Agents provide Explorers (the term for Aira users) with on-demand assistance with both visual navigation  and digital access. Aira is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. From in-class support to campus living, Aira helps to ensure access for blind and low-vision community members and visitors. For more information, contact Susan Smythe and visit Aira's website.

Discrimination Concerns

If a work-related situation arises in which a faculty or staff member believes he or she may have been discriminated against in decisions or actions related to his or her disability or serious medical condition, he or she may seek review through Swarthmore's internal Discrimination Grievance Review process. This procedure is described in Chapter Eleven of the Staff Handbook. Faculty members should refer to the Grievance Procedure for Faculty in the Faculty Handbook [pdf]. Both faculty and staff can contact the College's Equal Opportunity Office for assistance as needed.

Relevant Forms