Managers are not “on their own” when finding and managing reasonable accommodations. And they are not “bothering” their local HR Manager or Medical Leaves Administration when calling about a disability or accommodation request. Even very experienced managers should contact their local HR Manager when they have a disability-related issue. Also, you can contact Cornell’s Medical Leaves Administration at 607.255.1177 or visit Disability Accommodations.
2. The most effective disability accommodations are not always the most expensive or elaborate.
Many times, the most effective accommodation is the simplest. Employers only need to use an accommodation that’s effective, not necessarily the one that is most costly or the one the employee most prefers. Also, keep in mind that accommodations generally cost far less than what most employers fear. According to the Job Accommodation Network, over half of accommodations used by employers cost nothing (JAN, 2014). When accommodations did have a cost, the median cost was $500.
3. Working from home could be a disability accommodation option for an employee who has depression.
Technology is enabling many more employees to be effective when working from home. If the essential functions of the job can be done effectively at home using tele-work technology, working from home could be an accommodation option. This accommodation could be on a full-time basis or for a few days each week.
4. Employees who use wheelchairs must have special work desks that are specifically adapted to the dimensions of each wheelchair.
Employers are not required to provide an in-person sign language interpreter at all times the employee is at work. The accommodation that makes sense would depend on the person, their level of hearing loss and the nature of the work. Accommodating an employee who is deaf could be as simple as just using a paper and pencil or a cell phone with text messaging. Also, web-based sign language interpretation can be an option.
6. Employees who are blind can use the web and respond to email as fast as sighted users.
Screen reading software allows electronic text to be converted into computer synthesized speech. Users who have learned to use this system can use the internet, respond to email and use other e-tools just as other users would. This text-to-speech software is also useful for individuals with other disabilities, such as learning disabilities in reading.
7. Employees who do not have full use of their hands cannot use a computer.
Several options enable people who don’t have full use of their hands to use a computer. Speech recognition software, such as Dragon Naturally Speaking, allows users to create/edit documents, fill out forms, and use all Microsoft applications by voice input alone. Alternative keyboards and mice come with many different configurations allowing users with a variety of disabilities to use computers effectively.
8. Leave and re-assignment are reasonable accommodations that should be used as a last resort.
As much as possible, an accommodation should keep the employee engaged in the essential functions of the job. Make sure the full range of accommodation options are considered before using leave or re-assignment as an accommodation. This results in a win-win scenario. The employee wins because they can sustain meaningful employment; the employer wins because they can sustain productivity.
9. A manager must accommodate an employee whose disability prevents him from driving even when driving is an essential function of the job.
If there is no accommodation that would enable the employee to be effective and safe in performing an essential function of the job and, if driving is truly an essential (not a marginal) function of the job, the employee can be re-assigned to another job or terminated. An essential function is the job task that justifies the existence of the job (e.g. driving for a highway patrol officer, conducting training sessions for a trainer or treating patients for a nurse).
10. Veterans with post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury do not have to be accommodated because these are not considered real disabilities under the ADA.
Post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury are common types of disabilities among returning veterans. These two conditions are almost always considered disabilities under the ADA. Employers do need to be able to find effective accommodations for veterans with these two types of disabilities and for other veterans with disabilities. To find out more about how to accommodate veterans with these types of disabilities, go to http://askjan.org/topics/veterans.htm.