As others have mentioned, we have guidelines and a behavior contract for service animals on our website at "safety:" chemistry.ucdavis.edu. Reasonable accommodation is a collaborative process between the institution and the person requesting an accommodation. The individual or the institution might have pre-conceived notions about what accommodations might be needed or the abilities of the individual - which may not be helpful. It's extremely important to have that conversation and engage as many resources as needed to make sure the individual is safe, comfortable, and successful.
We do not seek to prevent a student from bringing a service animal into a teaching laboratory. It's not up to us to make that decision for the owner. We do require foot coverings and a disposable lab coat for the animal. We provide plastic-backed paper for the animal to lie on in class. We don't require doggie goggles - after booties and the lab coat, even the most well-trained pooch is done. We couldn't figure out how to use a kennel and not impede exiting so that's not a suggestion we make. We try to assign the individual to a lab station in a corner of the room, out of traffic patterns and the like, to reduce the risk of someone spilling something or tripping over the animal. We haven't had to accommodate a service animal in a research lab - yet!
If you're worried about getting into trouble with ADA, I usually start with a couple of open-ended, simple questions: "Tell me about your dog" "What are your goals for this quarter (semester)?" "What might you need from us to be successful?" I always stress that we want the person with the disability to be safe and successful and how can we achieve both of those goals.
I hope this helps - Monona's comment about solvent smells interfering with the ability of a medical alert animal to sense metabolic changes was something I had not considered.
<insert disclaimer here>
Debbie M. Decker, CCHO, ACS Fellow
Chair, Division of Chemical Health and Safety
University of California, Davis
Birkett's hypothesis: "Any chemical reaction
that proceeds smoothly under normal conditions,
can proceed violently in the presence of an idiot."
The problem that I see with the waiver approach is that if the dog places other students in danger. The owner can theoretically waive the safety of the dog but the owner cannot endanger other students. Even if the dog is well trained one could question how well the dog will respond if say, splashed with a caustic substance.
I forwarded this thread to my husband who has a different perspective on the ADA rules. He provides contact information for other specific questions. Please see below.
I looked at the UGA policy contained in this thread and I do have some problems with it. Under the ADA, colleges and universities must allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of the facility that are open to the public or to students. In the UGA policy they discuss prohibitive areas that are subjective to the opinion of the person making the decision. Under ADA there are very few instances where the animal can be denied. An example would be a sterile operating room or in a research setting a "clean" room. UGA seeks to broaden their policy so they have broader latitude in their denials. This is problematic in itself as the ADA allows for reasonable modification of policies and procedures that the student could seek and the university must consider under the law. You cannot "policy" away your responsibility under the law.
What needs to be looked at in a broader sense is reasonable accommodation. Universities and businesses need to look more broadly at what efforts could be made to modify their policies or practices to accommodate the individual. Certainly there will be instances where that may change the fundamental nature of the environment in which case a denial may be merited.
The one thing that ADA is clear on is that the responsibility of the care and safety of the dog is fully on the owner. It is understandable to worry about an animal's safety but that is never the call of another party. It would be acceptable as an accommodation to have the individual sign a waiver that states they were informed of all the risks prior to being allowed in the lab.
I have included a link to the ADA guide on service animals.
Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals | ADA National Network
(Printer-friendly WORD version| 1.98MB)
People can also call 1-800-949-4232 to talk to their regional ADA Centers for technical assistance.
Chris Sweet, MS
Northeast ADA Center
Employment and Disability Institute
ILR School, Cornell University
312 Dolgen Hall
Ithaca NY 14853
Disclaimer: The Northeast ADA Center is not involved in the enforcement of the ADA and does not provide legal advice.
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