Manager and Supervisor Tips

Manager and Supervisor Tips

Disability Management Services is happy to assist managers/supervisors in navigating the interactive process and reasonable accommodation process. Feel free to reach out to us at

Communicating with Employees

What is the Interactive Process?

It’s an ongoing good faith dialogue between an employer and an employee when the employer learns that the employee may have a medical condition, a disability or another circumstance that could require reasonable accommodation. 

Steps to the Interactive Process

Please note that each interactive process interaction is unique and varies on a case-by-case basis. 

  1. Recognizing an accommodation request or the need for an accommodation:
    • Employee requests an accommodation or the supervisor becomes aware of a need for an accommodation. 
  2. Gathering information:
    • Meet with the employee to discuss the accommodation request.
    • Ask for information about limitations, without diagnosis. 
    • If not already provided, request that the employee obtain medical documentation from their medical provider, outlining limitations/restrictions, and provide the employee with a referral to Disability Management Services to submit this documentation. 
    • Manager/supervisor reviews essential job functions. 
    • Manager/supervisor consults with Disability Management Services, as needed. 
  3. Exploring accommodation options:  
    • Manager/supervisor and employee collaborate to identify potential accommodation(s). 
    • Manager/supervisor and employee discuss, explore, and assess the effectiveness of each potential accommodation. 
  4. Implementing the accommodation:
    • Manager/supervisor and employee fill out a Temporary Accommodation Form (TAF) 
  5. Monitoring the accommodation:
    • Manager/supervisor and employee continue to monitor the effectiveness of the accommodation. 
  6. Documenting the process
  • What is a reasonable accommodation?
  • It is a modification or adjustment to an employee’s job or work environment. This is in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), California Civil Rights Department (CRD) and UC Policies/Procedures. 
    -Ensures equal opportunity in the application process.
    -Enabling a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of a position.
    -Makes it possible for an employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.
  • What is a Temporary Accommodation Form (TAF)?
  • It is a document that is completed after the interactive process has occurred and a reasonable accommodation has been agreed upon by the employee and manager/supervisor. It ensures that both the employee and supervisor understand the accommodation that is agreed upon.  The form can be found here
  • What are trigger words/phrases that an employee may say when they need an accommodation?

  • Some examples of this are:
    “I am having difficulty/trouble/hard time performing my work duties because…” 
    "I'm having a difficult time with..."
    "I have a medical condition/disability/illness/injury."
    *Please note this is not an exhaustive list, and there is no required statement that must be used to request an accommodation. 
  • How should I talk to my employee when they express they have a disability or are experiencing difficulties in the workplace?
  • -Be respectful and empathetic when an employee is sharing this information with you, it can be difficult to ask for help.
    -Imagine oneself in the situation of another, experiencing the emotions, ideas, or opinions of that person.
    -You should listen, show compassion, support, willingness to help, sincerity, awareness, encourage, avoid judgement, ask questions (but do not ask for diagnosis or medical information). 
  • Can I ask an employee about their disability or medical condition?
  • Do not ask an employee about their disability or medical condition. This can infringe on the employee’s privacy rights. An employee may tell you about their disability or medical condition, but it should never be solicited by the Supervisor and this information is always kept in strict confidence. Ask questions focused on employee's limitations/restrictions as they relate to the essential job functions. You can share the employee's limitations/restrictions as they relate to the essential job duties with those that need to know that information as part of their job responsibilities. 
  • What are some helpful phrases to say in the moment when an employee puts you on notice about a disability or medical condition? 
  • Some examples of this are:
    "How can I help?"  
    "What do you think your limitations/restriction are?"
    "I do not know what is possible but let me do some research and I will get back to you."
    "Let me reach out to Disability Management Services (DMS) for help and I will get back to you. "
    If your employee requested an accommodation and you need our help, we recommend sending the employee an email like this:
              "You mentioned you have a disability that may be impacting your ability to perform your work duties so I am including Disability Management  Services ( to help us. For more information about the reasonable accommodation process, see:
  • Person-first and Identity-first language
  • People with disabilities is an example of what’s called person-first language, while terms like disabled people are sometimes called identity-first language.

    Person-first language is widely encouraged in many contexts as a way to avoid defining a person solely by their disability, condition, or physical difference. However, not everyone prefers it. Some people instead prefer identity-first language as a way of emphasizing what they consider an important part of their identity. It reinforces disability as a positive cultural identifier. 
  • What is strength-based language?
  • Emphasizes people’s strengths, abilities, and opportunities, instead of their challenges, conditions, or perceived deficiencies.  

    Examples - “Maria uses a wheelchair as a mobility device” rather than “Maria is wheelchair bound.”  
  • Can I/should I contact an employee while they're on medical leave?
  • Yes! It’s a good practice for managers/supervisors to stay in contact with their employees while they are on leave. This helps the employee maintain a connection to the workplace and helps managers/supervisors in future planning. It's fine to periodically check in to say hello, however, do not request that the employee perform work.

    Depending on the reason for leave, it's usually fine to ask a quick question (e.g., about the status of a project or where a file might be) – if you can’t otherwise figure that out.

    When unsure, consult Disability Management Services.
  • What if my employee requests a workplace adjustment based on a family member's serious health condition?
  • As the supervisor/manager/chair you may consider an employee's request for a workplace adjustment based on operational needs. Should you need to consult please contact Employee and Labor Relations for staff employees or Academic Affairs/Academic Personnel for academic employees. Disability Management Services only assists with accommodation requests related to an employee's own serious health condition or disability. 
  • Disability Etiquette 
  • Disability management should include etiquette strategies that foster inclusion of people with disabilities in employment settings which allows all employees to be more comfortable and productive. For disability etiquette information please visit: 

During the interview and application process

Employers are permitted to ask certain types of questions about an applicant’s ability to perform the essential functions of a job. They are also required to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants and employees with disabilities.

As such, employers may ask applicants if they can perform the essential functions of the job, with or without reasonable accommodation. 

  • What can I ask during the interview process?
  • Do ask questions about the applicant’s qualifications and experience.
    Can you perform the essential functions outlined in the job description, with or without reasonable accommodation?"

    Gather information through interview questions to determine if the applicant is qualified:

    "Please tell us about your experience performing this type of work and working in this type of environment."

    Ensure hiring decisions are based on skills, qualifications, and experience.
  • What can I not ask/do during the interview process?
  • Don't ask the applicant about their disability, medical condition, or medications.
    Example: "Do you have a disability?", "What medications are you currently taking?"

    Don't make hiring decisions based on opinions, myths, and stereotypes.
    Example: "Have you filed ay workers' compensation claims?"
The following are examples of accommodations that employees may request in preparation for an interview:
  • Location that is physically accessible to the candidate (e.g. stair free access, elevator, accessible restroom, doors with push buttons)
    • Individuals’ access needs vary, and what is accessible to one candidate does not mean it’s accessible for all. Ask clarifying questions to know what the physical requirements of the space should be. Book your interview location based on the candidates’ accessibility requirements
  • Adjusted lighting. For example: natural light, no fluorescent overhead lights, well-lit interview area
  • Scent-free or reduced scent environment: the hiring committee should be asked to refrain from wearing perfumes or scented personal care products for the interview
  • Presence of an attendant, job coach, personal support worker or service animal
  • Seating arrangements that allow the candidate see interviewer’s face clearly (e.g. helps with lip reading)
  • A quiet location with reduced ambient noise. A noisy interview setting may introduce barriers to hearing and/or focusing for the candidate
  • Interviews scheduled during a time of the day when the candidate experiences the least disability related barrier.
  • Sign Language Interpreter: Deaf candidates who communicate may request the presence of an interpreter (e.g. ASL) during the interview
  • Assistive communication devices
  • Individuals may use personal assistive communication devices. This may require your participation (e.g. wearing a lapel microphone). If you are unsure how to use the equipment, just ask! People with disabilities are the experts on their own needs.

For any accommodations needed for interview candidates please contact DMS for guidance/assistance at