As an employer, you should be aware of the laws that apply to your business. You need to know, in particular, about the Americans with Disabilities Act, because the ADA requires you to offer reasonable accommodations to those who apply to work for you or who do work for you if they are disabled.
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act states that a reasonable accommodation is any kind of modification to a job, the workplace or the way the hiring process occurs. The modifications are intended to help those with disabilities have an equal opportunity to apply for a job or work in a position when they have the reasonable accommodations that they need to be successful.
Are reasonable accommodations the same as productivity enhancers?
Yes, sometimes, these two terms mean the same thing. Productivity enhancers are anything that improves the workplace or the ability to get work done. Interestingly, an accommodation made for an employee with a disability may be beneficial to others in the workplace who don’t have disabilities. Clients, customers, co-workers and others may all benefit.
For example, if you always gave a written exam as a part of the hiring process but are asked to give an oral examination because one of the applicants has a visual impairment, that combination of oral and visual testing may actually help other applicants, such as those who have a hard time reading or those with poor writing skills.
What are some common accommodations that you could consider making?
Some of the common accommodations employers tend to make include:
- Physical changes, like adding a ramp to the main entrance or making the work area more accessible to those in wheelchairs or with walking aids
- Adding an interpreter to the workforce, such as someone who uses sign language, at least during important meetings and events
- Adding flexibility to scheduling so that those with disabilities, as well as anyone with medical or other needs, can work around other responsibilities and appointments
Disabilities may make people do things differently, but they don’t necessarily prevent them from getting the job done. Making reasonable accommodations and changes in the workplace could be beneficial to everyone and help make your company a more inclusive place.