Lesson 11: Job Accommodations

Activity: Job Accommodations

Key Considerations

Whether you are currently employed or are seeking employment in the competitive workforce, it is important for you to be knowledgeable of your legal rights as a person who is blind/ low vision. Knowing your rights prior to applying for and accepting a position will benefit you. It is vital for you to be able to effectively communicate the accommodations you will need to perform the key functions of a job. Even more important is to know if your employer is required to provide certain accommodations for you or not. Employers are not required to provide all accommodations you might request. In fact, an employer may indicate that the provision of certain modifications may be too costly. In those cases, you need to be prepared to seek out resources or financial assistance as an alternative. Use your rights in a positive manner, not only to protect yourself from discrimination, but also to work collaboratively with your place of employment. Completion of this next activity will help you learn more about your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Activity 1: Americans with Disabilities Act

Read about the Americans with Disabilities Act and then answer the following questions:

Q: Prior to making a job offer, can an employer ask you if you are blind or low vision?
A: No. However, if you are obviously blind/ low vision (such as you use a guide dog or white cane) the employer can ask you whether or not you will need an accommodation and what type.

Q: Can an employer ask you if you can work a night shift or read labels on mail that needs to be distributed?
A: Yes. An employer can ask questions pertaining to your ability to perform the essential functions of the job.

Q: Are you required by the ADA to disclose that you are blind/ low vision prior to accepting a job offer?
A: No. Unless you need a reasonable accommodation to apply for the job, you do not have to disclose an eye condition prior to accepting a job offer.

Q: Does the ADA require you to ask for reasonable accommodations to be provided by an employer prior to or after accepting a job offer?
A: Neither. It is up to you. Keep in mind the pros and cons of disclosing your disability before or after accepting a job.

Q: If you are offered a job, can an employer ask you about your health?
A: Yes. As long as all of the applicants (not just you) are asked about their health.

Q: If you choose to disclose your disability after you have been offered a job, can the employer withdraw the offer from you if you are able to perform the essential functions of a job?
A: No. They cannot withdraw an offer unless you pose a direct threat to the safety and health of yourself and others.

Activity 2: Reasonable Accommodation

Read about reasonable job accommodations. Put your knowledge about reasonable accommodations to the test by answering the following questions.

Q: How do you request a reasonable accommodation?
A: Simply ask your employer.

Q: If you request a reasonable accommodation, can your employer request documentation?
A: When your eye condition is not obvious an employer can ask for documentation.

Q: Is your employer required to grant every request for a reasonable accommodation?
A: No. Employers do not have to provide an accommodation that would pose an undue hardship (significant difficulty or expense).

Q: Does your employer have to provide you with your first choice of an accommodation?
A: No. If a computer program can be purchased to magnify text for you versus hiring a reader (your first choice), your employer can choose to provide you with the computer program.

Q: Is it your employer’s responsibility to provide you with eyeglasses or a signature guide?
A: No. Personal items (such as your eyeglasses or cane) that are used on and off the job are your responsibility.

Q: Can you ask for more than one reasonable accommodation?
A: Yes.

Q: If you feel your employment rights have been violated on the basis of your eye condition, is there a process for you to file a charge of employment discrimination?
A: Yes.

Activity 3: A Closer Look at Your Rights

Let’s say you recently accepted a position as a receptionist at a law office and you want more information about this kind of position. Navigate to O*NET Online. Use the occupation search function to search using the keyword “receptionist.”

Based on the tasks (or functions of the job) listed under the Receptionists and Information Clerks category, what reasonable accommodations would you ask your employer to provide?

Create a plan that includes (1) the task you will not be able to complete without accommodation or problems you foresee with completing the task without accommodation, (2) an outline of the solution(s) you propose, and (3) a description of how you arrived at the solutions.

Consider the following questions:

  • Would your employer be expected to provide all of the accommodations you request?
  • What if your employer stated the accommodations were too expensive?
  • If your employer contracts with another company to provide training, is your employer off the hook for providing accommodations? (No. They are obligated to provide you with a reasonable accommodation for the training.)
  • What are the advantages of knowing these things prior to your first job?