How A Simple (And Often FREE) Accommodation Could Help You Be Successful at Work
Could a simple change or adjustment at work help you be more productive or successful on the job? If you have a disability, the answer may be yes, and you are likely entitled to a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
By: Miranda Harms
When I meet with a client, one of the first questions I ask them is whether they have a disability. They usually aren't sure how to answer that question; they often think that if they aren’t receiving SSI or SSDI benefits, they aren’t considered an individual with a disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a person with a disability as a person who has “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” Major life activities include, but are not limited to, things such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, performing manual tasks, caring for yourself, and operation of major bodily functions. Many of my clients who have disabilities aren't aware that they are entitled to reasonable accommodations at work or believe that it's too late to request one because they didn't disclose their disability when they were hired. This is a myth! You can request an accommodation at any time throughout your employment.
During employment, reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to how things are typically done that enables a person with a disability to perform the position's essential functions. To put it simply, a reasonable accommodation is a simple change that can help you to be successful on the job. Some examples of reasonable accommodations include
- Flexible schedules
- Changing job tasks
- Reserved parking spaces
- Improving accessibility at the job site
- Working from home
- Adjusted training materials
- Reassigning the staff person to a vacant position
- Ergonomic equipment
- Accessible technology
It should be noted that the accommodation must be reasonable; it cannot impose an undue hardship on the employer's business. You do not need to use any special language to request a reasonable accommodation from your employer. Still, you should let them know that you are requesting the accommodation due to a disability.
For further guidance, RochesterWorks! offers a Disability and Disclosure workshop on the second Thursday of each month that discusses reasonable accommodation, and The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is a great free resource that provides accommodation ideas, as well as guidance to employers and individuals with disabilities. Their website is askjan.org. To register for the Disability and Disclosure workshop, visit the workshop calendar. For more information on the Americans with Disabilities Act, see ada.gov/ or northeastada.org/.