Undue Hardship Defined

What is Meant by Undue Hardship?

This section of the ADA addresses the common-sense notion that not all accommodations can be provided in all settings. Here, the law stipulates that universities are not required to provide an accommodation that will impose an "undue hardship" on the operation of the class, where "undue hardship" means significant difficulty or expense in, or resulting from, the provision of the accommodation. The following are often used to help make this determination:

  • Size of the program/class

  • Financial resources

  • Cost of accommodation

  • Alteration or change in the course requirements: e.g., a course instructor is not required to transcribe his lectures into overheads to accommodate a hearing impaired student (though this could be pursued as a possible accommodation, if acceptable to both the student and the instructor).

  • Disruption of other students: Note: instructors should only invoke this "undue hardship" clause after having attempted reasonable accommodations in the classroom, or in cases of extreme student behavior. For example, a student with epilepsy cannot be automatically excluded from a class because the instructor fears that a disruption (e.g., a grand mal seizure) may occur during class. However, if this student is enrolled in a class and does experience grand mal seizures in class on a regular basis, the instructor may have a case for claiming "undue hardship" on the basis of disruption.