What is 'reasonable accommodation' under the ADA?

This blog has previously discussed various aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. Part of avoiding discrimination under the ADA is that employers must make "reasonable accommodations" for people with disabilities so that they can apply for and perform certain jobs.

According to a government guide on the ADA, a reasonable accommodation can be any change in the environment or procedures of a job that will make it possible for a disabled person to apply for a job, perform the tasks necessary for the position, or have equal access to benefits that other employees have. A relatively simple and obvious example of such a reasonable accommodation would be a wheelchair ramp allowing a disabled person to enter the building or other areas to which employees usually have access. Other accommodations might be alternate formats of necessary information, such as Braille or audio, or sign language interpreters for those that are hearing impaired. In the modern workplace, where computers reign supreme, software and hardware that allow a disabled person to access the workstation and the information and applications contained therein might also fall into this category. Time off from work for medical treatment for a disability may also be considered a reasonable accommodation.

It is important to note that a disabled individual is not required to fill out any special form or document to request a reasonable accommodation. Simply informing the employer of the need should be sufficient, though an employer may request a doctor's note in cases of less-obvious disabilities.

Most people spend a lot of time at their jobs, and no one should have to do so without reasonable accommodation for his or her disability. If you have questions about your rights under the ADA, or believe you have been the victim of illegal employment discrimination, you may wish to consider consulting an experienced Oklahoma employment law attorney.