It’s tough enough for the average person to discern between disability accessibility and accommodation, let alone employers. However, it’s vital that employers know the difference before they run into issues with ADA accessibility compliance. On the flip side of the coin, employees should know the definitions of both to help protect their rights. Here’s a breakdown of each to help clear the air.
Accommodation for Disabilities
Accommodation is highly personalized for the individual, meeting their unique needs and addressing the aspects of how their disability affects them. Adaptive devices and supportive equipment are common forms of accommodation, as are policy changes like allowing service animals in the building.
Regardless of how accommodation takes place, the goal is to help any individual with any disability work to their full potential. Employers and employees work together to decide what can be put in place to ensure employee productivity, revisiting these aids on a regular basis to measure efficiency and make changes when necessary.
Employers are not, however, required to provide accommodation when it causes undue hardship or is unreasonable. Factors like cost, outside sources of funding, and health or safety requirements can all impact an employee’s ability to receive accommodation. Thankfully, accommodating disabilities is rarely an expensive task or one that creates an unsafe work environment for other employees.
It’s vital to remember that employers must provide accommodations in the form of support, tools, and technology to ensure that any disabled person can work for them. If you feel as though your needs have not been met by an employer or that you are facing discrimination, speak with a disability accommodation attorney immediately.
Accessibility for Disabilities
Accessibility is the responsibility, required by law, for corporations and employers to ensure their places of business are barrier-free. These laws apply to both the private and public sectors, provided the organizations meets the minimum number of employees.
Aspects of accessibility include wheelchair ramps, disabled parking, braille for elevator operating buttons, and wheelchair accessible bathrooms. Those are just a few common examples, but anything that makes a building disabled-friendly is considered accessibility.
Unlike accommodation, there are no caveats where a place of business can claim undue hardship for accessibility. Not only must entrances be accessible, but the entire building must meet the same standard. That includes everything from conference rooms to the break room and hallways.
Accessibility also extends beyond the building to the use of products and systems. This often comes in the form of technology with items like screen readers or text-to-speech software. Schools and libraries commonly include accessible technology that can cater to a wide range of people with disabilities.
For employers, these accessible technologies may be necessary to meet accommodation requirements. Any implementation must provide the user with an equivalent experience to other users, outside of how the system is accessed. The combination of accessibility and accommodation are vital for employers and organizations to remain ADA compliant.