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ADA 101 - ADA Glossary - Legal and Practical Terms F-M

Fundamental Alteration: A change in office operations or delivery of services to accommodate the needs of one individual

Government Building: A building which houses a government Agency, whether the building is owned or rented.

Historic Building: A building with exterior and/or interior  historical significance, which may prevent a portion, portions, or the entirety of the building from being altered to achieve physical accessibility for individuals with disabilities.

Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB): The HPRB  is the official body of advisors appointed by the Mayor to guide the government and public on preservation matters in the District of Columbia. As the state review board, HPRB also assists with the implementation of federal preservation programs and the review of federal projects in the District of Columbia.

Inclusion: Individuals with disabilities have the right to participate, or to be included, in government programs and services in the most integrated, least restrictive environment possible.

Invisible Disability: A disability that is not obvious or visible to an observer (e.g., HIV, Diabetes, Mental Health Issues, and Cancer)

Job Coach: An individual who works with an employee with a disability (usually when he/she starts a new job and intermittently thereafter) to guide the employee through a normal workday; help the employee establish a routine and/or achieve work-related tasks; and monitor the employee’s progress.  In DC, a job coach can be requested through the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA).

Job Restructuring: Shifting marginal functions or “other duties as assigned”   from one employee to another as a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability.

Light Duty: Generally, "light duty" refers to temporary or permanent work that is physically or mentally less demanding than normal job duties. Some employers use the term "light duty" to mean simply excusing an employee from performing those job functions that s/he is unable to perform because of impairment. "Light duty" also may consist of particular positions with duties that are less physically or mentally demanding created specifically for the purpose of providing alternative work for employees who are unable to perform some or all of their normal duties. Further, an employer may refer to any position that is sedentary or is less physically or mentally demanding as "light duty." The term is often associated with workers compensation programs. Because “light duty” is generally associated with worker’s compensation claims; and because it allows an individual to refrain from performing at least some of the essential functions of his or her job, the ADA does not cover employees on “light duty.”

Major Life Activities (a non-exhaustive list): A person with a physical or mental impairment must be substantially limited in one or more major life activities to qualify for coverage as a person with a disability under the ADA.  A non-exhaustive list of major life activities includes: caring for oneself, seeing, eating, walking sitting, speaking, learning, concentrating, communicating, interacting with others, performing manual tasks, hearing, sleeping, standing, reaching, bending, lifting, breathing, reading, thinking, working.  Also includes major bodily functions, such as functions of the immune system, cell growth, digestive, bladder, and bowel functions, neurological and brain functions, respiratory and circulatory functions, endocrine functions, and reproductive functions

Marginal Functions: Functions that are useful to a particular job but are not part of that job’s major duties, and therefore, can be shifted to another employee if need allows.  Marginal duties\ may include tasks like serving as agency emergency responder, watering the office plants  

Medical Diagnosis: A disability diagnosis is relevant under the ADA if it is given by an individual certified and/or accredited to give such a diagnosis (usually a medical doctor).  A diagnosis of “disability” for other legal purposes (social security, vocational rehabilitation, etc.) does not necessarily qualify as a diagnosis of disability under ADA, but documentation of such diagnosis may be helpful in determining whether someone has an ADA-recognized disability  (e.g., a past certification of job readiness from a rehabilitation counselor or medical professional, which documents a permanent disability).

Mobility Device: A wheelchair, scooter, or any other force or motor-driven device that allows an individual with a disability to move from place to place.