AskEARN | Ensure Productivity: Reasonable Accommodations Skip to main content

Welcome to AskEARN’s new website. As we transition to our new site, you can still visit EARN’s previous site.

About EARN

The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) offers information and resources to help employers recruit, hire, retain and advance people with disabilities; build inclusive workplace cultures; and meet diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) goals. 

Getting Started

Start here to learn how to recruit, hire, retain and advance people with disabilities; why workplace inclusion of people with disabilities matters; and how EARN’s resources can help.

A woman in a wheelchair addresses three colleagues around a small table

    Phases of Employment

  • A woman in a wheelchair shakes hands with a colleague


    Build a pipeline of talent that includes people with disabilities.

  • Two men work at repairing an engine.


    Identify people who have the skills and attributes for the job.

  • A woman with a disability wearing a helmet works in a factory


    Keep talented employees with disabilities, including those who acquire them on the job.

  • A man uses sign language to communicate.


    Ensure that employees with disabilities have equal opportunities for advancement.

Dinah Cohen Learning Center

EARN’s Learning Center offers a wide range of training resources, including self-paced online courses.

Woman using assistive technology on a computer workstation.

News & Events

EARN makes it easy to stay up-to-date on disability employment news and information. Start by subscribing to our monthly newsletter and eblasts, which will connect you to upcoming events, developing news and promising practices in the world of disability diversity and inclusion. And don’t forget to follow EARN on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

A smiling man with an earpiece sits in a wheelchair

Ensure Productivity: Reasonable Accommodations

Learn about a basic element of workplace inclusion. 

Some people with disabilities may need “reasonable accommodations” to perform the essential functions of a job. An accommodation is considered any modification or adjustment to a job or work environment that enables a qualified person with a disability to apply for or perform a job.

Take the Ensure Productivity Self-Paced Training 

Learn More about Reasonable Accommodation

What is a reasonable accommodation?

Examples of reasonable accommodations, sometimes called “workplace accommodations,” include assistive technology, such as certain software or adaptive equipment; putting blocks of wood under desk legs to raise it for someone who uses a wheelchair; and sign language interpreters for a person who is deaf. Reasonable accommodations may include flexible work arrangements such as flextime or telework, or time off or schedule adjustments to allow an employee to attend medical or physical therapy appointments. 

How much do reasonable accommodations cost?

According to the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), more than half of all workplace accommodations cost nothing. Furthermore, JAN’s statistics show that most employers report financial benefits in the form of reduced insurance and training costs and increased productivity.

What can employers do to ensure they are providing accommodations for their employees who need them?

Federal laws and regulations define employers’ obligations to provide reasonable accommodations. Employers should consider the policies, procedures and administrative mechanisms they use to ensure effective and efficient implementation of reasonable accommodations. Examples include:

  1. Developing, implementing and communicating written reasonable accommodations policies.
    • Post on intranet and public website.
    • Include policies not required by federal law and regulation, such as:
      • If an employee with a known disability is having difficulty performing their job and it is reasonable to conclude that the problem is related to their disability, confidentially inquiring whether this is the case. Then, if the employee responds affirmatively, confidentially asking if they need an accommodation.
      • In addition to providing work task-related assistance as a reasonable accommodation, providing daily personal care-related assistance, often called personal assistant services (such as help using the restroom, eating or removing and putting on outerwear) during work hours.
  2. Developing, implementing and communicating written procedures for processing requests for reasonable accommodations.
    • Post procedures on intranet and public website, including posting accommodation statements on career websites.
    • Communicate procedures using an accessible format.
    • For companies using online application systems, post a notice on the human resources webpage or online application portal that notifies job applicants who may need a reasonable accommodation to perform the functions of a job that they may be entitled to one under federal and/or state law.
  3. Establishing an administrative mechanism for minimizing the cost of an accommodation being assigned to a line manager’s budget, such as a centralized funding source (sometimes referred to as a “centralized accommodation program or fund."
  4. Establishing an administrative mechanism or centralized source of expertise (appointing a specific staff member and/or establishing an office) for assessing, evaluating and providing reasonable accommodations (including assistive technology) to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the reasonable accommodation process.
  5. Providing training for executives, managers and line staff about new strategies and devices, such as telework, flextime and assistive technologies.
  6. Ensuring that both managers and employees are aware that they may contact the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) to receive free confidential advice and technical assistance on workplace accommodations.
  7. Creating an online system for tracking accommodations in order to document success.
  8. Allowing line managers to authorize reasonable accommodations, with team review of denials and a requirement that all denials be signed by upper level management.
  9. Assigning a full-time director of disability services or reasonable accommodations manager to coordinate accommodations requests.