A job accommodation is an adjustment to a job or work environment that makes it possible for an individual with a disability to perform their job duties. Accommodations may include specialized equipment, modifications to the work environment or adjustments to work schedules or responsibilities. Not all people with disabilities (or even all people with the same disability) need the same accommodation. For example, a job applicant who is deaf may need a sign language interpreter during the job interview; an employee who is blind or who has low vision may need someone to read information posted on a bulletin board; and an employee with diabetes may need regularly scheduled breaks during the workday to monitor blood sugar and insulin levels.
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a service of the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) is the leading source of expert, confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and provides one-on-one consultation to employers and employees, as well as service providers and others, free of charge.
Under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, there are three areas in which reasonable accommodations may be needed:
- Adjustments to the job application process so a qualified applicant with a disability can be considered for a position;
- Modifications to the physical work environment, or to the way a job is usually performed, so an individual with a disability can perform the essential functions of that position; and
- Changes that enable an employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment like those that are enjoyed by other employees without disabilities. This may include access to cafeterias, lounges, auditoriums and company-provided transportation.
The only legal limitation on an employer's obligation to provide reasonable accommodation is that the changes or modifications may not cause "undue hardship" to the employer. "Undue hardship" means significant difficulty, including accommodations that are overly extensive or disruptive, or which could impact the actual running of a business.
U.S. Department of Labor Resources on Job Accommodations
- ODEP Accommodations Topic Page
- Reasonable Accommodation for Employees and Applicants with Disabilities
- Maximizing Productivity: Accommodations for Employees with Psychiatric Disabilities
Other Resources on Job Accommodations
- Job Accommodation Network
- Employees' Practical Guide to Negotiating and Requesting Reasonable Accommodations Under the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Employers' Practical Guide to Negotiating and Requesting Reasonable Accommodations Under the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Accommodation Ideas Based on Disability Type
- JAN's Searchable Online Accommodation Resource
- What are Reasonable Accommodations?
- Technology and Job Accommodations Bring Many Jobs Within Reach
- Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (Federal)