Effective Reasonable Accommodations: Tools & Techniques

DMEC StaffAnnual Conference

Effective Reasonable Accommodations: Tools & Techniques

By Linda Batiste, J.D.

Principal Consultant
Job Accommodation Network

By Anne Hirsh, M.S., CPDM

Co-Director
Job Accommodation Network

Providing effective accommodations for employees with disabilities not only helps employers ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but it also benefits employers in numerous other ways. Results from an ongoing survey conducted by the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) consistently show that providing accommodations helps employers in the following ways:

  • Retain valued employees
  • Increase employee productivity
  • Eliminate the costs associated with hiring and training new employees
  • Improve interactions among co-workers
  • Increase overall company morale
  • Increase overall company productivity

How can you provide effective accommodations so your organization can reap these benefits? Our session at the 2019 DMEC Annual Conference, Tools & Techniques to Implement Effective Reasonable Accommodations, will give employers practical tools to capitalize on these benefits by providing effective accommodations.

Every accommodation situation and workplace environment is different, but there are some general things you can do. First, it’s important to have the right approach. JAN has been in operation since 1983 and one of the things we’ve noticed over the years is that if an employer isn’t supportive of accommodations, it’s less likely that an effective accommodation will be made. So, it’s critical to educate decision-makers about the benefits of making accommodations.

Whether you’re renovating or leasing space, purchasing new equipment, creating policies, or developing an online application system or intranet, plan for potential future accommodations. It’s much easier to make accommodations when you’ve built in accessibility than it is to have to try to make a work environment or practice accessible after the fact.

It’s critical to have written accommodation policies and procedures. These policies can ensure consistency; make employees with disabilities feel more secure in requesting accommodations; educate coworkers about the ADA and accommodation; and provide documentation of your efforts.

Train your front-line managers so that, even if they don’t process accommodations, they know how to navigate the initial accommodation request. Unfortunately, if they fail to recognize and act on a request, it’s unlikely that an accommodation will be made.

Finally, monitor and update accommodations after they’re made. Accommodations don’t stay effective forever, and it’s important to update them when needed. Accommodations may need to be updated when an employee’s limitations change, the workplace changes, new equipment is installed, or a new supervisor takes over.

If you would like to learn about available, free tools and techniques to educate your workforce and improve upon your current accommodation policies and procedures, or if you’re willing to share your successful approach to providing accommodations, please join us for our session, Tools & Techniques to Implement Effective Reasonable Accommodations, at the 2019 DMEC Annual Conference. We hope to see you there!