The Cornell Just-in-Time Toolkit for Managers

Tips, checklists, and resources to help managers lead a disability inclusive workforce.

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Finding an effective accommodation: What works, what doesn’t

You are not alone

  • When a disability issue arises, contact your local HR Manager or contact Cornell’s Medical Leaves Administration at 607.255.1177 or visit Disability Accommodations.

A resource: The Job Accommodation Network

  • The Job Accommodation Network is an online resource to help employers find disability accommodations for a variety of disabilities. 
  • Go to or call 800-526-7234.

The most effective accommodations are not always the most expensive or elaborate

  • Simple accommodations are often more powerful. 
  • Get creative. Consider new ways of doing things. Consider new ways of dividing up tasks.  Consider new work locations. Consider simple changes to devices/equipment/furniture.

Assistive Technology

  • New devices, hardware, software and equipment enable workers with many different types of disabilities to use computers, travel, communicate and work as effectively as others. 
  • Assistive technologies are quickly becoming more powerful, more effective and less costly.
  • Go to to learn more about these options.

Accommodations of first and last resort

  • Consider first: accommodations that keep the employee engaged in the essential functions of their current job.
  • Consider last: accommodations that take the employee away from the essential functions of their current job, such as extended leave or re-assignment to another job.

Denying an accommodation

  • Do not deny an employee’s accommodation request without consulting your local HR Manager or Cornell’s Medical Leaves Administration office.
  • Employers can deny an accommodation that causes undue hardship (significant expense or difficulty). Undue hardship is determined on a case by case basis.

About leave

  • If leave is the only option available, employees must be able to use accrued paid and then unpaid leave as a disability accommodation.
  • The job must be kept open for the employee’s return.

What is NOT an accommodation?

Employers are not required to:

  • Provide travel to/from the workplace.
  • Provide equipment not used on the job.
  • Provide light duty options.
  • Create new job roles or job vacancies where none exist
  • Eliminate essential functions.
  • Compromise their code of conduct when this code is fair and uniformly applied.
  • Reduce productivity.

Accommodating veterans

  • Veterans with disabilities have a right to an accommodation under several laws.
  • Create a climate of trust so that veterans with disabilities can come forward to get the accommodations they need.
  • Veterans with the “signature” disabilities of post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI) or traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be accommodated in a variety of ways, depending on the nature of their disability and the job.