9 reasonable accommodations employers can make in the workplace for people with disabilities

People with disabilities are entitled to an equitable application process and work environment. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) set this standard for equity at work and in other areas of public life, including government and civic engagement, businesses, public facilities, transportation, and telecommunications. 

Even with the ADA in place, people with disabilities still run into barriers in the world of work. Self-advocacy is a critical skill. However, taking this on while navigating a job search in competitive and bureaucratic systems is a lot for one individual to manage. You need to focus on finding a job and a work environment where you can thrive. Working with allies and vocational services will save you a lot of time and energy.

The law requires companies to make certain accommodations for qualified people with disabilities. This article outlines some types of adjustments that can make the world of work more accessible and fair.

What kinds of reasonable accommodations can employers make for people with disabilities? 

Title I of the ADA says organizations must provide “reasonable accommodation” to qualified people with disabilities. However, there are exceptions for “undue hardship.” These terms need to be vague because there’s so much variation between people with disabilities and their employers.

Some broad types of accommodations help many people with certain types of disabilities at work. These can be physical, developmental, intellectual or others. Accommodations can include equipment, assistive technology, services, policy and procedure changes, or communications. Some examples include assistive technology, wheelchair ramps, and transcription and interpretive services. Supervisors can also adjust workplace policies, schedules, and communication and feedback procedures.

9 reasonable workplace accommodations for employees with disabilities

There are endless possible ways to make job functions and environments accessible to different people. There are far too many to list here. Often, individuals must find out what adjustments will help them do their job without too much stress. Only you can make the best decisions about what kinds of changes will help you. But that doesn’t mean you have to do a ton of research and find the solutions yourself.

Your rehabilitation team can assist you in identifying accommodations that will help you complete the essential functions of your job. Accommodations are identified by assessing your current abilities and the functions your job requires. One of your first steps when seeking workplace accommodation should be to learn about your resources. Both local and national government agencies and nonprofits serve job seekers with disabilities. You may be able to work with a coach, find noncompetitive job opportunities and receive specialized skills training. Social Security and the federal government both hire people with disabilities. Local government agencies, job placement organizations and vocational rehabilitation programs also provide assistance.

At Ability KC, we’ve helped many of our patients prepare to go back to work. We offer vocational planning, service navigation and other kinds of support. Here are nine examples of changes that can make jobs more accessible for people with disabilities:

  • Assistive technology — These tools make tasks easier for people with a variety of impairments, including motor control, speech, vision and hearing. They can benefit those with learning and neurodevelopmental disabilities, too. People who need assistive technology, for instance, screen readers, listening devices and AI assistants, may also ask for specialized training on how to use it.
  • Other workplace adaptive equipment — People with physical disabilities may need accessibility and ergonomic equipment. Wide and clutter-free pathways and ramps may be necessary to help them get around. Specialized keyboards, mice or seat cushions can help reduce pain and overexertion.
  • Assistants and interpreter services — Technology can’t always solve issues with communication and administrative tasks. In these cases, assistants and interpreters can often help. Employers may hire them, or they may be available through government programs.
  • Modified communication or feedback — Some people need more detailed communication and feedback to do their work. Extra check-ins, touch-base meetings or written feedback can be helpful in these situations.
  • Modified job duties and restructured work sites — Supervisors may restructure tasks that aren’t central to a specific role. Otherwise, they can delegate them to other team members. Sometimes employers can adjust when or how an employee fulfills certain duties.
  • Adjusted or part-time schedule — Some people may need to work different hours. Medication side effects and fatigue can make it difficult to work at certain times. Flexibility to take breaks is helpful, too. You may need them for emotion regulation or taking medications. When possible, an employer must allow these changes. They must allow them even if other employees don’t get them.
  • Modified workplace policies — Organizations may have strict policies for attendance and time off. Or they may not allow their team to keep food and drinks at their workstations. Employers must accommodate modification requests as long as there aren’t other prohibiting factors.
  • Improved access to transportation — Employers don’t need to provide transportation to an employee with a disability. They only need to do so if they provide it to other employees. They may have to make adjustments to allow for a safe and reasonable commute — for instance, changing the start time of a shift or reassigning the employee to another location. Remote work can be a great way to solve transportation issues.
  • Reassignment — There are some times when a role can’t be modified to meet an employee’s current abilities. In these cases, the employee can request a transfer to an open position they are qualified for as an accommodation under the ADA.

Ability KC helps people with disabilities find work

People with disabilities can have successful careers. Sometimes you don’t know what kinds of support are available until you connect with others who care about fairness in the workplace. Teaming up with each other and with specialized agencies helps them make the best use of resources.

At Ability KC, we help people with new and lifelong disabilities make workplace arrangements. Many patients need help asking their supervisors for time off and getting their work covered while they’re recovering. We offer vocational services to help with job task training, assistive technology, career navigation, applications and more.

Ability KC is a designated Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility (CORF). We also have accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).

Are you looking for an outpatient rehab program that provides comprehensive support? Talk with an admissions counselor about our employment programs and other rehabilitation services that can help you get back to work. Contact us with any questions.