FAQs: Voluntary Survey on Disability and Veteran Status

The University of Iowa (UI) is changing how we collect data about disability and veteran status to meet changes in federal regulations and reporting expectations.  As a federal contractor, UI is required to invite employees to self-identify certain information, including disability and veteran status, and to report on the workforce as a whole. To meet these requirements, the university is conducting a voluntary survey of employees.  Frequently asked questions and answers about the voluntary survey appear below.

1. Why is the university asking me to complete this survey at this time?

As a federal contractor, the university is required to survey employees inviting them to self-identify whether they have a disability. While a survey regarding veteran status is not specifically required, the definition of protected veterans has changed in recent years and we would like to provide employees an opportunity to update their status based on current definitions.

2. Who is being surveyed?

This survey is being sent to all UI faculty and staff.  The required form for Self-Identification of Disability has been provided by the federal government.  The form for Veteran Self-Identification includes information specifically required by regulations.

3. How will the information be used?

The information will be used to comply with affirmative action reporting requirements.  Summary disability data will be used to measure how the university is doing in comparison to the federal “utilization goal” (for the percentage of individuals with disabilities) and to the federal “annual benchmark” (for the percentage of veterans). 

4. How do I complete the survey?

Self-identification of one’s disability and veteran status, as well as one’s sex, race, and ethnicity, is available through the university’s Employee Self Service website

  • Once in Self Service, click the Personal tab.
  • Under the General section, click Demographics to view the information that is currently recorded for your race, ethnicity, sex, disability, and veteran status.
  • Follow the instructions to review and update your information as needed.

5. What is the utilization goal for individuals with disabilities?

The current federal utilization goal for individuals with disabilities is 7%.  The DOL determines the goal so that organizations can measure how they are doing in hiring and retaining individuals with disabilities.

6. What is the annual benchmark for protected veterans?

The current federal annual benchmark for veterans in the civilian labor force is 7%.

7. Will this information be stored in my personnel file?

No.  The data will be retained separately from your personnel, benefits, or medical files and will only be available for affirmative action reporting purposes.

8. Will I be asked to complete the survey in the future?

Yes.  Because a person may become disabled at any time, the university is required to ask its employees to update their information every five years.

9. Do I have to complete the forms?

No, submission of this information is voluntary, and refusal to provide it will not subject you to any adverse treatment.  The forms have a response option of “I don’t wish to answer”.

10. What is a disability?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act of 2008 (ADAAA), a disability is an impairment or medical condition that substantially limits a major life activity or a history of such impairment or condition.  Major life activities include major bodily functions.  See the following definitions from the U.S. Department of Labor:

  • Major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.
  • include, but are not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

11. Who is a protected veteran?

There are four categories of protected veterans, as defined under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, as amended:

  • Disabled veteran
  • Recently separated veteran
  • Active duty wartime or campaign badge veteran
  • Armed forces service medal veteran

Definitions for each of these categories are included in the survey.

12. Do I have to provide medical information for this process?

No medical verification is required for this survey.  You will not be contacted to discuss this information further unless you notify us regarding a reasonable accommodation necessary for you to perform your job.

13. Can I change my disability or veteran status in the future?

Yes, you may update your status at any time. The demographic survey form is always available through the UI Employee Self Service website.

14. How are requests for accommodations handled?

If you are seeking a reasonable accommodation due to a disability, please contact your Unit Human Resources Representative or the Office of Faculty and Staff Disability Services  by email (fsds@uiowa.edu), telephone (319-335-2660), or TDD(319-335-3495).

15. Whom may I contact if I have more questions or concerns?

The director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity (EOD) is responsible for ensuring that UI complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), affirmative action, and equal opportunity regulations. You may contact the director with any questions related to the designation of your personal demographic data, including your sex, race, ethnicity, disability, and/or veteran status, at diversity@uiowa.edu or by calling (319) 335-0705.