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NPR 3713.1C
Effective Date: April 22, 2019
Expiration Date: April 22, 2026
Printable Format (PDF)

Subject: Reasonable Accommodations Procedures for Individuals with Disabilities

Responsible Office: Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity

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Appendix A. Definitions

Benefits and Privileges of Employment

These include, but are not limited to, employer-sponsored: (1) training; (2) services, e.g., employee assistance programs (EAPs), credit unions, cafeterias, lounges, gymnasiums, auditoriums, transportation; and (3) parties or other social functions, e.g., parties to celebrate retirements, birthdays, and company outings. 24

24 U.S. EEOC, Enforcement Guidance: Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (Oct. 17, 2002), "Reasonable Accommodation Related to the Benefits and Privileges of Employment," accessible at http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/accommodation.html#N_17 (hereafter cited as EEOC Enforcement Guidance: Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship).

Direct Threat

Direct Threat means a significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the individual or others that cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation. The determination that an individual poses a direct threat is based on an individualized assessment of the individual's present ability to safely perform the essential functions of the job. This assessment is based on a reasonable medical judgment that relies on the most current medical knowledge and/or on the best available objective evidence. In determining whether an individual would pose a direct threat, the factors to be considered include: (1) the duration of the risk; (2) the nature and severity of the potential harm; (3) the likelihood that the potential harm will occur; and (4) the imminence of the potential harm. 25

25 29 CFR § 1630.2(r).

Disability Program Manager (DPM)

The DPM is a member of the Agency's ODEO or Center EEO Office staff whose responsibilities include administering the Special Emphasis Program (SEP) for individuals with disabilities. In some cases, the duties of a DPM may be performed on a collateral duty basis by an individual permanently assigned to an operational component other than the HQ or Center EEO Offices.

Essential Functions

Essential functions are those job duties that are so fundamental to the position that the individual holding or desiring the position cannot do the job without performing them. A function can be "essential" if, among other things: the position exists specifically to perform that function, there are a limited number of other employees who could perform the function if it were assigned to them, or if the function is specialized and the individual is hired based on the individual's ability to perform it. 26

26 EEOC Policy Guidance, § I(A).

The supervisor, in consultation with HR, determines the essential functions of a position. Determination of the essential functions of a position shall be made on a case-by-case basis so that the current duties of the position reflect the job as actually performed, and not simply the components of a generic position description. The determination is to be made based on a classified position description and NASA's judgment as to which functions are essential, and other considerations as appropriate, to include: the actual work experience of present or past employees in the job, the time spent performing a function, the consequences of not requiring that an employee perform a function, and the terms of a collective bargaining agreement.

Expedited Processing

In certain circumstances, a request for reasonable accommodation requires an expedited review and decision in a timeframe that is shorter than 30 calendar days. For example, an employee may need a sign language interpreter for a meeting scheduled to take place in five calendar days due to the timetable for processing a vacancy (e.g., conducting interviews and making hiring decisions). An example, in the context of an applicant, might involve a need to expedite a request for reasonable accommodation to ensure that the applicant has an equal opportunity to apply for a job. Therefore, the HRS working the staffing action shall make a decision as quickly as possible and, if appropriate, provide a reasonable accommodation.

Extenuating Circumstances

Extenuating circumstances are factors that could not reasonably have been anticipated or avoided in advance of the request for reasonable accommodation. The term covers those limited situations in which unforeseen or unavoidable events prevent prompt processing and delivery of a reasonable accommodation. (See also Section C.3.)

Individual with Disability

With respect to an individual, disability means:

NASA is required to provide a reasonable accommodation to an otherwise qualified individual who meets the definition of disability under the ‘‘actual disability’’ prong, or ‘‘record of’’ prongs, but is not required to provide a reasonable accommodation to an individual who meets the definition of disability solely under the ‘‘regarded as’’ prong. 28

27 29 CFR § 1630.2(g)(iii).
28 29 CFR § 1630.9(e).

Major Life Activities

Major life activities include, but are not limited to:

• Caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, sitting, reaching, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, interacting with others, and working; and

• The operation of a major bodily function, including functions of the immune system, special sensory organs and skin; normal cell growth; and digestive, genitourinary, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, cardiovascular, endocrine, hemic, lymphatic, musculoskeletal, and reproductive functions. The operation of a major bodily function includes the operation of an individual organ within a body system. 29

29 29 CFR § 1630.2(h)(2)(ii).

Mitigating Measures

The non-ameliorative effects of mitigating measures, such as negative side effects of medication or burdens associated with following a particular treatment regimen, may be considered when determining whether an individual’s impairment substantially limits a major life activity. Mitigating measures include, but are not limited to:

30 29 CFR § 1630.2(j)(4)-(5).

Physical or Mental Impairment

A physical impairment is any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sensory organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin, and endocrine.

A mental impairment is any mental or psychological disorder, such as an intellectual disability (formerly “mental retardation”), organic brain syndrome, traumatic brain injury, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities. 31

31 29 CFR § 1630.2(h)(2).


The term ‘‘qualified,’’ with respect to an individual with a disability, means that the individual satisfies the requisite skill, experience, education, and other job-related requirements of the employment position such individual holds or desires and can perform the essential functions of such position with or without reasonable accommodation. 32

32 29 CFR § 1630.2(m).

Reasonable Accommodation

A reasonable accommodation is any change made in the work environment to assist an individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform the essential functions of a job, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment. 33 There are three categories of reasonable accommodations:

33 EEOC Enforcement Guidance), "General Principles: Reasonable Accommodation," citing 29 CFR pt. 1630 app. § 1630.2(o).
34 EEOC Enforcement Guidance, "General Principles: Reasonable Accommodation;" see also U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Federal Employment of People with Disabilities, HR Professionals and Reasonable Accommodation, accessible at http://www.opm.gov/disability/hrpro_6-01-C.asp (hereafter cited as OPM Guidance).

Reasonable Accommodations Team

This is a team of subject matter experts, including but not limited to, NASA physicians, Center DPMs, and representatives from the Center’s HRS, Office of the General Counsel/Center Office of the Chief Counsel, IT, and Facilities. When convened by the DPM to discuss reasonable accommodation requests, members of this team advise the supervisor in helping make the decision on whether to grant or deny the request. All members of the Reasonable Accommodations Team who obtain or receive such information are strictly bound by the confidentiality requirements under the Rehabilitation Act and the NASA Privacy Procedural Requirements.

Reasonable Medical Documentation

The employer may require only the documentation that is needed to establish that an individual has a disability that necessitates a reasonable accommodation. Therefore, an employer, in response to a request for reasonable accommodation, cannot ask for documentation that is unrelated to determining the existence of a disability and the necessity for an accommodation. In addition, all medical documentation shall be treated confidentially and the employer shall observe all requirements of the Privacy Act and other appropriate legal authorities.


Reassignment is a form of reasonable accommodation that may be provided, absent undue hardship, to an employee who, because of a disability, can no longer perform the essential functions of the position, with or without reasonable accommodation. Reassignment is a “last resort” accommodation that must be considered if there is no other effective accommodation(s) that would enable the employee to perform the essential functions of the current job, or if all other possible accommodation(s) would impose an undue hardship on the organization. 35

35 EEOC Enforcement Guidance: "Types of Reasonable Accommodation Related to Job Performance: Reassignment."

Substantially Limits

In order for a physical or mental impairment to be a “disability” under 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., as amended, the impairment has to “substantially limit” a major life activity. The term “substantially limits” is construed broadly, utilizing nine rules of construction that are applied in determining whether an impairment substantially limits (or substantially limited) a major life activity. 36 These are:

36 29. CFR § 1630.2(j)(1)(i)-(ix).

The comparison of an individual’s performance of a major life activity to the performance of the same major life activity by most people in the general population usually will not require scientific, medical, or statistical analysis. This is not intended, however, to prohibit the presentation of scientific, medical, or statistical evidence to make such a comparison where appropriate.

37 29 CFR § 1630.2(j)(1)(ix).

Decision Maker

For purposes of this NPR, the Decision Maker is the individual who has responsibility and authority to make certain determinations and decisions relative to an employee’s request for reasonable accommodation. This individual initiates the interactive process in a timely fashion to find an accommodation that balances the legitimate needs of both the employee and the Agency.

For accommodation requests made by employees, the designated Decision Maker is the employee’s supervisor or manager in the employee’s chain of command. For accommodation requests made by job applicants, the designated Decision Maker is the HRS identified on the vacancy announcement.

Targeted Disability

Targeted disabilities are a subset of the larger disability category. The Federal Government has recognized that qualified individuals with certain disabilities, particularly manifest disabilities, face significant barriers to employment, above and beyond the barriers faced by people with the broader range of disabilities. These barriers are often due to myths, fears, and stereotypes about such disabilities. The Federal Government calls these "targeted disabilities."

Targeted disabilities may include, but are not limited to, the following: developmental disabilities (i.e., cerebral palsy; autism spectrum disorder; traumatic brain injuries; deafness or serious difficulty hearing); blindness; missing extremities (arm, leg, hand and/or foot); significant mobility impairments; partial or complete paralysis; epilepsy and other seizure disorders; intellectual disabilities; psychiatric disorders (e.g., bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depression); dwarfism; and significant disfigurement (e.g., disfigurements caused by burns, wounds, accidents, or congenital disorders).

Undue Hardship

A significant difficulty or expense focused on the resources and circumstances of the Agency in relationship to the cost or difficulty of providing a specific reasonable accommodation. Undue hardship refers not only to financial difficulty, but to reasonable accommodations that are unduly extensive, substantial, or disruptive or those that would fundamentally alter the nature or operations of the Agency.

The Agency shall assess on a case-by-case basis whether a particular reasonable accommodation would cause undue hardship. 38 In making the determination as to "significant difficulty or expense" the Agency shall consider:

38 EEOC Enforcement Guidance, Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, "General Principles: Undue Hardship," Oct. 17, 2002.

| TOC | Preface | Chapter1 | Chapter2 | Chapter3 | Chapter4 | Chapter5 | Chapter6 | Chapter7 | AppendixA | AppendixB | AppendixC | AppendixD | AppendixE | AppendixF | AppendixG | ALL |
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