Temporary Illnesses and Injuries

What is a temporary illness or injury?

Examples of Temporary Illnesses or Injuries

When to Seek AEC Services

What is substantially limiting?

General Process

What do students need to bring to their AEC appointment

What is a temporary illness or injury?

Temporary illnesses or injuries are short-term, not chronic, and have little or no lasting effects. Temporary illnesses or injuries lasting six months or less are not considered permanent disabilities and generally do not qualify as a disability under federal or state laws. In the ADAAA, Congress clarified that an individual “… is not “regarded as” an individual with a disability if the impairment is transitory and minor.  A transitory impairment is an impairment with an “actual or expected duration of 6 months or less.”

Impairments that last only for a short period of time are typically not considered disabilities, nor are they protected by the law. However, if a temporary illness or injury is sufficiently severe, it may be considered a temporary disability, in which case the AEC would work with a student to identify reasonable accommodations. The Accessible Education Center recognizes that temporary illnesses and injuries can, for a temporary period, adversely affect a student’s ability to fully participate in the academic experience in ways similar to permanent disabilities.

Examples of Temporary Illnesses or Injuries:

  • A sprained or broken hand, finger, leg, or other joint that will heal completely in a defined period of time.
  • Minor or non-chronic medical illnesses or disorders.
  • Medical illnesses that last several weeks that will heal completely in a defined period of time.
  • Surgeries that temporarily impact a student in a course with a defined period of recovery time.
  • Illness caused by an accident or injury that will heal completely in a defined period of time.

When to Seek AEC Services

A student with a temporary illness or injury should schedule an appointment with the AEC in the following situations:

  • The temporary impairment caused by an injury or illness is sufficiently severe to substantially limit a major life activity.
  • The temporary illness has or will have continued lasting effects beyond two weeks (e.g. concussive syndrome or complications due to surgery that cause permanent injury).

What is substantially limiting?

Illnesses lasting 2 weeks or less are not considered temporary disabilities, as they typically are not “sufficiently severe”, nor do they cause “substantial limitations.” Examples might include:

  • Minor hand/arm injuries (sprains, surgery, etc.)
  • Minor leg/ankle injuries (sprains, surgery, etc.)
  • Injury of non-dominant hand/arm
  • Short-term illnesses (i.e. bronchitis, mononucleosis, COVID, the flu, etc.)

Illnesses lasting more than 2 weeks, that are severe and impact major life activities may qualify for temporary accommodations through AEC. Examples include:

  • Concussions
  • Broken bones
  • Complex/multiple injuries
  • Surgeries with long recovery times

General Process:

  1. Reach out directly to professors. Students who have a temporary injury or illness that may impact their academics are encouraged to talk to their instructors prior to contacting AEC, to identify if the adjustments they need can be coordinated directly with them. Often times, instructors have flexibility embedded in their courses, consistent with the Senate’s Course Attendance and Engagement Policy. In other cases, instructors can easily implement temporary adjustments for students, such as:
  • Allowing a student to type notes during class

  • Assigning rotating notetakers to share their notes with the class

  • Recording classes

  • Flexibility with time to complete assignments

  • Working with the University Testing Center to administer a make-up exam or have an exam proctored with extra time or a computer.

Many of these are examples of universal design for learning and can increase the overall accessibility of courses. These flexibility options should be available for all students, regardless of whether the need for flexibility stems from temporary illness and injury or any other reason, in accordance with the Course Attendance and Engagement Policy.

The Senate’s Course Attendance and Engagement Policy also includes information about supporting student emergencies which are different than other reason-neutral flexibility policies. This information can be found under Emergency Extensions

  1. Contact the AEC. If a temporary injury or illness will have significant impacts on functioning, a student might be eligible for AEC services. In this case, a student can schedule an appointment to discuss eligibility.

Note: If a student is experiencing a temporary injury or illness that impacts their mobility or ability to get around campus, they can explore resources from Transportation Services. These include Duck Rides that operate in the evenings, 7 days/week and have off-campus routes, and the Access Shuttle, which is an on campus ride service provided at no cost to students, faculty, staff, and visitors with illnesses that limit mobility.

What do students need to bring to their AEC appointment:

Students with temporary disabilities that are not apparent/visible who need to register for formal accommodations must provide documentation of their disability before or during the initial meeting. Ideal documentation should include a diagnosis, prognosis, expected duration and current functional limitations/impact. Documentation should be on official letterhead and include the student’s name and date, as well as the name, title, licensing state(s) and number, address, area of specialization, and signature of the qualified, diagnosing clinician/health care professional.

The following documentation may not be accepted:

    1. Documentation completed by a family member
    2. Documentation based on a fully online evaluation which did not involve direct contact with a qualified professional
    3. Health Summary
    4. Verification of medication/prescription