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Office of Disability Services

ADA and Face Covering Guidelines

Introduction

Wright State University has implemented health and safety protocols for students, faculty, staff, and guests while on campus, which include face coverings, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and self-monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19. However, in some cases, wearing a face covering is not possible due to an underlying condition or not being able to manipulate the mask independently. 

Is there a reason a person might not be able to wear a face mask?

The CDC states that a person who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face mask without assistance should not wear a face mask or cloth face covering.[6]

Examples of a person with a disability who might not be able to wear a face mask:

  • Individuals with respiratory disabilities such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or cystic fibrosis may not be able to wear a face mask because of difficulty in or impaired breathing. People with respiratory disabilities should consult their own medical professional for advice about using face masks. The CDC also states that anyone who has trouble breathing should not wear a face mask.[7]
  • People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe anxiety, or claustrophobia (an abnormal fear of being in enclosed or narrow places).[8] may feel afraid or terrified when wearing a face mask. These individuals may not be able to stay calm or function when wearing a face mask.
  • Some people with autism are sensitive to touch and texture. [9] Covering the nose and mouth with fabric can cause sensory overload, feelings of panic, and extreme anxiety.
  • A person who has cerebral palsy may have difficulty moving the small muscles in the hands, wrists, or fingers. Due to their limited mobility,  they may not be able to tie the strings or put the elastic loops of a face mask over the ears. This means that the individual may not be able to put on or remove a face mask without assistance.

If I am a person with a disability, how do I get an exemption/alternative to the face covering policy?

The Office of Disability Services will work with each request on a case by case basis. Individuals seeking a face covering exemption/alternative will need to provide documentation from a licensed medical provider that substantiates the impact of the disability on the individual’s ability to safely wear a face covering. Accommodations/adjustments to the face covering policy may include using a university-approved face shield or, when a face shield is not possible, the option to take courses remotely.   

Please contact mask-ada@wright.edu for additional information on how to request a face covering exemption/alternative.

What happens if I am approved for a face covering exemption/alternative?

Students who have been approved will receive an accommodation letter that they are encouraged to print and keep on their person while on campus. Additionally, the student’s faculty, student conduct office, and student housing (if applicable) will also be notified once a student is approved for a mask/face covering exemption/alternative.