Establish that the survivor has a disability, if it is not readily apparent. - The Network
Category: reasonable accommodation process

Example: “I am a person with disabilities, which were caused by an assault in my apartment after I moved in. When I was assaulted, I was physically injured in a way that affects my mobility, requires me to use a cane, and makes me unable to walk up and down stairs at the building. Additionally, being in my current unit has caused me intense physical and emotional reactions, nightmares, flashbacks, and stress.”

  • Establishing a disability does not mean that you have to disclose a medical condition. Instead, survivors should focus on explaining that their impairment substantially limits one or more of their major life activities such as seeing, hearing, walking, breathing, or caring for themself. Survivors are also not required to disclose the details of the trauma they have experienced, and can decide how much information they want to share with their housing provider. In our example above, the survivor decided to share more detail about what happened to her because her disability status changed after she moved in. 
  • If a survivor has a disability that is readily apparent (i.e., easily seen or recognized by others), then they may need to provide less information about their disability-related need. Examples of apparent disabilities can include physical disabilities that require a wheelchair or, for the survivor in our example, use of a cane.
  • If a survivor has a disability that is not readily apparent (i.e., a housing provider may not know that the survivor has this disability unless it is disclosed), a housing provider can ask for information to evaluate the person’s need for the accommodation. This often includes contact information or a letter from a medical provider. Examples of non-apparent disabilities can include having anxiety, depression, cystic fibrosis, or epilepsy. The second impairment mentioned in our example–that the survivor is experiencing physical and emotional reactions, often at night and in the unit–is likely a non-apparent disability.