Reasonable Accommodations

Reasonable Accommodation is a positive action that mostly requires only logic and a can-do, problem solving attitude.

Everyone makes use of accommodations so this is just one way of ensuring an ergonomical workplace that contributes to a happy and motivated staff.

When I began job hunting I realised that I had never had any reasonable accommodations, even climbing stairs although this very difficult for me. I started obtaining information from the people who advertised the jobs. I would find out if there were stairs or lifts and ramps and, if it was not accessible, I would withdraw my CV. This, of course, limited my job opportunities.

All of this changed in 1999 when the EE Act was implemented. It has become the responsibility of the employer to ensure that reasonable accommodations are made for people with disabilities. According to the EE Act Reasonable Accommodation is any modification, or adjustment, to a job or working environment that will enable a person from a designated group to have access to, participate and advance in employment.

Reasonable accommodation is pertinent when recruiting people with disabilities and when employees becomes disabled because of an accident, illness or chronic disease. I always advise employers to consider each disabled candidate to ascertain whether they meet the inherent requirements of the job. If they do meet requirements the employer can then, during the interview, ask whether any accommodations are needed - as no two people’s requirements are the same, even if they have the same disability.

The Act does not state that employers should break down their building to accommodate disabled employees and candidates but they could start with obvious things like accessible entrance to the premises and training their security and reception staff to assist disabled persons who visit their organisation.
There are three types of accommodations: building enhancements, assistive technology and job changes. Most employers are aware of ramps and accessible bathrooms but not of assistive technologies and job changes so you may need to educate them!

Technology is an integral part of the workplace and can be used to benefit most types of disabilities. Voice recognition and screen reading technology are being used effectively by visually impaired persons, whilst the use of sms, e-mail, fax and data technology is being used by hearing impaired persons.

By making these accommodations employers will benefit from employing disabled persons as they mostly work twice as hard as their colleagues and also tend to have lower absenteeism. Reasonable accommodation also enables employees to enhance their productivity because the playing field has been levelled.

Mobility

Electric wheelchair

Manual wheelchair

Crutches

Crutches and callipers

Artificial limbs

Physical Structures and Building

Disabled parking

Entrance: ramp

Portable ramp

Accessible bathroom

Tap turner

Automatic door

Lifts

Stairlift

Assistive Devices

Cabinets: applicable height

Raised desk (wheelchair users)

Hand splint

Wheelchair tray

Phone: headset/speaker

Mobile: Walk ’n Talk

Telephone dialling aid

Anchor pad

Page turner

Electronic page turner

Book holder

Pen and pencil holder

Key handle adapter

Easy reach

Plastizote/grip enlarger

Head stick

Small/adjusted keyboard

Touch-tone telephone

Voice-recognition PC

Track ball

Special mouse

Higher chair

Job Changes

Adjust working hours/flexi-time

Allocate tasks to someone else

Allow for physical therapy sessions

Change the work/allocate one major task

Provide supervision

Assistant/driver

Change the place of work

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