Lesson 5: Requesting Reasonable Accommodations

Braille document

Lesson 5: Requesting Reasonable Accommodations

Name(s) of student(s):

Age and grade level:

Goal from IEP connected to lesson:

Objective from IEP connected to lesson:

Purpose of lesson: To demonstrate the ability to advocate for one’s needs, politely and confidently, using I-statements and making polite requests.

Materials needed: “What are My Rights?” section of the United States Department of Labor website, Internet access


“Do you know particular social skills are involved in advocating for your needs? Any needs, but I want to talk specifically about vision-related accommodations, such as receiving textbooks in braille, using a screen reader, using a guide dog in a restaurant, etc. The way you conduct yourself, both verbally and nonverbally, is extremely important when asserting your needs. Your request could come across as polite, eager, hard-working, and smart, or your request could come across as demanding or aggressive.”

Discussion: Order of Operations

“We will assume you are talking to a well-intentioned individual who may not know what you need and does not know your rights. I will teach you how to inform and make requests, and we will discuss options if you are met with continued opposition. This is the order of operations:”

  • State your needs with I-statements.
  • Make polite requests.
  • If necessary, decide how to handle opposition.

Discussion: I-statements

Teach the student to state her needs using I-statements. Example: “I will be most efficient with a screen reader” instead of “You must purchase me a screen reader.” It takes the judgment, pressure, blame, and attention off of the employer or instructor and places the emphasis and need on the individual making the request. Assist the student in considering the difference between the following statements.

“You are required to purchase a flicker-free computer monitor for me.”
“My eyes quickly fatigue when working on a computer monitor that flickers.”

“You need to allow me frequent breaks to rest my eyes.”
“After working on the computer for 20 minutes, my eyes feel strained. It is helpful if I rest my eyes after a lengthy time on the computer.”

“You forgot, I need a braille copy of the document.”
“I can access the document if it is transcribed in braille.”

Discussion: Making Polite Requests

  • If possible, verbally present your request and follow up with the request in writing.
  • Describe your eye condition in simple terms (which we will address in a future lesson) and inform your employer how it affects your ability to perform specific job functions.
  • Suggest reasonable accommodation(s). You may consider including an estimate of the cost, if applicable.
  • Understand the law requires your employer to provide reasonable accommodations that are not unduly costly or disruptive to her. Work together to develop accommodations that meet your needs and the employer’s. This is a joint process, and negotiations are acceptable.
  • When requesting access to technology assisting you in accuracy and efficiency, choose how to portray yourself wisely. You are responsible for your wording and attitude. You are not responsible for the response you receive.

Discuss the following:

  • How do you want to be perceived when asserting your needs?
  • Provide an example of requesting an accommodation with aggression.
  • Provide an example of requesting an accommodation with a demanding attitude.
  • Provide an example of requesting an accommodation with a polite, assertive tone.
  • Which comes most naturally to you?

Exercise: Know Your Rights

Have your student review his rights by researching them online. You may need to assist him in locating the “What are My Rights?” section of the United States Department of Labor website.

Discussion: Handling Opposition

“Suppose you are not speaking with a well-intentioned employer or she is unable or unwilling to provide reasonable accommodations. You must decide your course of action. A good first step may be to contact the company’s Human Resources (HR) department if possible. They are responsible for ensuring employers comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The next step may be filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If the matter is still unresolved, you will be notified of the right to file a lawsuit against the employer within 90 days.”

Exercise: Present Your Case

The student should choose one accommodation he will likely use on the job and role-play an I-statement and polite request.


“Today we discussed the socially proper method of requesting accommodations. Using I-Statements and making polite requests is beneficial across many situations.”

Progress notes, data collection, comments, and modifications: