Disabled Professors Need Not Apply (to teach special ed)

The University of Colorado – Colorado Springs, is hiring an Assistant Professor of Special Education. They do not want disabled people to apply for the job. The job ad reads:

Physical Requirements:

While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently required to stand and walk. Employee is occasionally required to have long periods of sitting, moderate bending, moderate energy requirements and fine motor skills. Talking, hearing and vision skills for communicating with others and class instruction. The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 20 pounds.”

I’ve written about this issue many times before. These are not in fact essential requirement for the job, although communication (which will not necessarily require hearing or vision) is essential. As I explained here, the EEOC says that requirements must be actual requirements, but this kind of boilerplate CYA legalese gets added in by HR. For a special ed professor it’s exceptionally egregious, but it’s also arguably illegal for all the other jobs at UCCS.

So how does HR get around it? They attach this clause:

“To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each of the established essential functions and meet the physical and environment demands described satisfactorily. The requirements listed are representative of the knowledge, skill, ability, physical and environmental conditions required of the employee on the job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions, physical and environmental demands.

Applicants with disabilities: If you have a mental or physical impairment, which limits one of your major life activities (e.g. walking, hearing, seeing, speaking, breathing, or learning) and require special accommodations for testing or interviewing, it is your responsibility to notify the office scheduling the interview or test at least 3 working days before the interview or test date. ┬áIf you need special accommodations at the work site, you must notify the appointing authority or Human Resources.”

Until EEOC imposes a broader enforcement action, this arguably covers their bases in terms of the ADA, while still broadcasting a clear message that disabled candidates will not be treated well. A disabled prospective applicant let me know about this one, in fact, wondering whether they should bother applying. The combination of the discouraging impact and the falsity of the requirement clause is the problem.

Because to be a professor of special ed you do not, in fact, have to be able to lift 20 pounds. It’s not a requirement. The clause is a lie.

UCCS should remove the requirement clause from this and all job ads, then institute a full assessment of their hiring practices to maximize inclusivity over their current discriminatory (but arguably legal) practices.

Below are some screenshots for record keeping.


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