October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). NDEAM raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. The theme for 2014 is “Expect. Employ. Empower.” The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination against a qualified individual with a disability in all areas of employment (i.e., hiring, pay, job assignment, training, firing, etc.). Under Title I of the ADA, if you have a disability and are qualified to perform the essential functions or duties of a job, with or without reasonable accommodation, then the law protects you from job discrimination on the basis of your disability.
So what is a reasonable accommodation?
According to U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission a reasonable accommodation is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of a job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities. Examples of reasonable accommodations may include:
- providing or modifying equipment or devices
- job restructuring
- part-time or modified work schedules (work flex)
- reassignment to a vacant position
- adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials, or policies
- providing readers and interpreters
- making the workplace readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities
An employer is required to provide a reasonable accommodation to a qualified applicant or employee with a disability unless the employer can show that the accommodation would be an undue hardship — that is, that it would require significant difficulty or expense.
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) offers a free, searchable online accommodations resource (SOAR) database to assistances individuals with disabilities, their advocates, employers, human resources departments, and other users to explore various accommodation options for people with disabilities in work and education settings. First, the user selects their impairment then he or she selects the limitation. The user then goes on to select the job function such as attending work and/or working at full production to which SOAR then offers a suggestion for reasonable accommodation (i.e., allowing for flexible work schedule, work from home, etc.).
In addition to SOAR, users can search for accommodations by disability (i.e., arthritis, hearing loss, wheelchair use, etc.). Information specialists are available by phone at 800/526-7234 (V), 877/781-9403 (TTY), through an online email form, and chat to provide confidential technical assistance about job accommodations and the ADA.
Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues funded by the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). To develop and influence disability employment-related policies and practices, ODEP also sponsors the other three research and technical assistance resources: