Under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done during the hiring process. These modifications enable an individual with a disability to have an equal opportunity not only to get a job, but successfully perform their job tasks to the same extent as people without disabilities. The ADA requires reasonable accommodations as they relate to three aspects of employment: 1) ensuring equal opportunity in the application process; 2) enabling a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of a job; and 3) making it possible for an employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.
Accommodations are sometimes referred to as “productivity enhancers”. Reasonable accommodations should not be viewed as “special treatment” and they often benefit all employees. For example, facility enhancements such as ramps, accessible restrooms, and ergonomic workstations benefit more than just employees with disabilities. Examples of reasonable accommodations include making existing facilities accessible; job restructuring; part-time or modified work schedules; acquiring or modifying equipment; changing tests, training materials, or policies; and providing qualified readers or interpreters. Here are some more examples. Many job accommodations cost very little and often involve minor changes to a work environment, schedule or work-related technologies:
- Physical changes
- Installing a ramp or modifying a rest room
- Modifying the layout of a workspace
- Accessible and assistive technologies
- Ensuring computer software is accessible
- Providing screen reader software
- Using videophones to facilitate communications with colleagues who are deaf
- Accessible communications
- Providing sign language interpreters or closed captioning at meetings and events
- Making materials available in Braille or large print
- Policy enhancements
- Modifying a policy to allow a service animal in a business setting
- Adjusting work schedules so employees with chronic medical conditions can go to medical appointments and complete their work at alternate times or locations
These are just a few example. Contact the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), an ODEP-funded technical assistance center, providing free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations.