Making It Work

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a Federal law enacted in the 1980s. One goal of this legislative document is to ensure that reasonable accommodations are provided on-the-job when needed. Reasonable accommodations can mean the difference between being able to work or not. A reasonable accommodation is any type of accommodation that the potential employee needs to do the job, including items such as computer equipment, auditory material, or closed captioning. Accommodations also can be no-cost modifications such as allowing extra time to complete a project or moving office equipment to a lower spot for easier reach.

Work Accommodations

Both persons with disabilities who are working and those who are not working state a need for similar types of accommodations. One-third of non-working persons with disabilities report the need for some type of accommodation. The other two-thirds of persons with disabilities who are not working report that they could work without accommodations or are unaware of specific accommodations that might make working possible. The most commonly cited accommodations were:

• Accessible parking or accessible, nearby public transit stops – 19%

• Elevators – 17%

• Adapted work stations – 15%

• Special work arrangements (reduced or part-time hours or job redesign) – 12%

• Handrails or ramps – 10.4%

• Job coaches – 5.6%

• Specific office supplies – 4.5%

• Personal assistants – 4.0%

• Braille, enlarged print, special lighting or audio tapes – 2.5%

• Voice synthesizers, TTY, infrared systems, or other technical devices – 1.8%

• Readers, oral, or sign language interpreters – 1.8%

Meeting Accommodation and Access Needs of Applicants

Listed in the table below are the 11 areas of accommodations and five access areas outlined in a study conducted by Cornell University. The table also shows the percentage of employers who state they have made accommodations in specific areas.

The Cornell University study shows that much accommodation still needs to be done to help bring the unemployment rate for persons with disabilities in line with the unemployment rate of the general public. Progress is being made. More work needs to be done by persons with disabilities, educators, and rehabilitation counselors, in conjunction with public and private employment communities to achieve full integration of persons with disabilities into employment.