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Disabled Employees:

What is “Reasonable Accommodation”

The Americans With Disabilities Act calls for “reasonable accommodation” to be made so that otherwise-capable people are able to work and be productive members of society. In this article, we’ll take a look at what “reasonable accommodation” is, but since every person is different, we may not be able to cover every possible scenario. 

If you’re employed by a company that you believe is not making reasonable accommodations to help you to get your work done, employment attorneys will be able to advise you. However, you might be able to gain a better understanding of the basic principles that lie behind this law after reading this article, so let’s take a closer look. 

Accommodations Relate to Three Aspects of Your Work Life

There are three ways in which employers must work to accommodate disabled employees. They should ensure equal opportunities for disabled people who are applying for work, provided that their disability does not make doing the job itself difficult or impossible. When a new or existing employee is disabled but still able to do their job, their employers must make any modifications that are necessary for them to work. Finally, disabled people must have the same benefits and privileges of employment as any other employee. 

Types of Reasonable Accommodation

Reasonable accommodations fall into four main categories. They could be physical changes to workplace facilities, using assistive technologies, ensuring that communications are accessible, and adapting company policies to accommodate disabled employees’ needs. The basic guideline is that the changes should be reasonably easy for the employer to implement while making it possible for people living with disabilities to be productive. 

Examples of Reasonable Accommodations

One of the most obvious ways in which employers should accommodate disabled employees is through the provision of wheelchair-friendly facilities. Ramps and the modification of existing restrooms are common examples. They don’t cost much, and they’re an investment in the future since other competent employees may have similar needs in years to come.  Some changes are even simpler to implement. For example, simply changing a workstation layout could be helpful. 

Technologies for helping disabled people to function to the best of their ability at work can also be a help. For instance, screen reader software can help a person with sight impairments to “read” as effectively as their colleagues. A hearing-impaired person can benefit from video phone systems that enable them to see conversations instead of hearing them, and closed captioning can help them to stay on top of meetings and presentations. 

Finally, the employer should make reasonable accommodation for a handicapped person’s needs by making a few alterations to business policies. These won’t be major changes. It’s simply a matter of adjusting schedules to allow for medical appointments. It needn’t even be extra “time off,” just a matter of flexible working hours. The use of service dogs can also be written into company policy. It costs nothing and won’t cause any disruption. 

Simple Steps Enable Handy-Capable People to Contribute

As we can see from the above, reasonable accommodation isn’t a matter of providing privileges. Instead, they’re a way to help capable people to enjoy a productive work life and equal opportunities to excel. It’s a win-win situation in which employers can choose the “best” candidates for the job, and set them up for success – even if they have a handicap. 


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