RiR Explains Employment Accommodations
Full Video Transcript of Video
NARRATOR: Everyone needs the right tools to perform a job. Chairs for employees who work at desks. Ladders for roofers who need to get on top of a house. Even lunch breaks for people who need food to get through the day, you know, like we all do. It makes good business sense to have a workplace that accommodates everyone’s needs. And laws, like the Americans with Disabilities Act, the ADA, and the Rehabilitation Act, are there to make sure workers with disabilities are accommodated, too. So, what kind of accommodations are we talking about? Special privileges for special people, right? Gold-plated hover chairs? Trained seeing-eye unicorns? Not even close. Turns out employees with disabilities aren’t particularly special, and neither are the accommodations they need to do their jobs. In fact, they’re pretty reasonable. Literally, it’s why the ADA calls them reasonable accommodations. Miguel works as an office assistant and his low vision makes using a computer monitor difficult. So his employer provided screen reading software that reads aloud onscreen text and image descriptions. That’s a reasonable accommodation. June is a bookkeeper who experienced a traumatic brain injury. Concentrating for long periods of time is exhausting for her. So instead of taking one long break, her employer allows her to take several short breaks. That’s a reasonable accommodation. And according to the Job Accommodation Network, JAN, the majority of workplace accommodations, 59% cost absolutely nothing. But if there is an expense there are tax credits and other incentives out there to support businesses in creating a more accessible workplace. So how do you go about getting a reasonable accommodation? You’re the expert on what you need, so if you need something, ask for it. Step one, research simple solutions. While you may be the only employee at your job with your disability, odds are that someone somewhere has the solution you’re looking for. Resources like JAN have whole catalogs of useful, real-life solutions to learn from. Step two, notify your employer. Notifying your employer of your need for an accommodation starts the process. Whether you speak with them or send them an email. You may need to provide a medical letter or other documentation if requested. You do not need to tell your employer everything about your disability, just how it might affect your job duties. Step three, negotiate. Finding the right accommodation is not a one step process. It’s an interactive, back-and-forth conversation. Your employer may propose a different accommodation than the one you suggested. Consider whether their idea would be effective. Or make another suggestion. And you may need to propose more than one accommodation before finding the one that works for everyone. Step four, approach a higher-level colleague. If your employer rejects your requested accommodation without making an alternative offer, or if your employer refuses to discuss your request, communicate your request to a higher-level individual, like your supervisor’s manager, or the HR department. It is a good idea to keep notes about who you spoke with and the date. If all else fails, there’s step five, file a claim. If you’re not getting anywhere with the higher-ups, there are agencies that can help. Filing a claim involves a lot of paperwork, and sometimes short deadlines, so it’s important to move quickly. No matter what steps you take, always remember that asking for reasonable accommodations is not about getting special favors. It’s about getting what you need to get your job done. Produced by Rooted in Rights.