Maloney O'Laughlin PLLC fights for employees throughout Washington, from Seattle to Spokane.

Maloney O'Laughlin PLLC fights for employees throughout Washington, from Seattle to Spokane.

Understanding reasonable accommodations in the workplace

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2024 | Disability Discrimination And Accommodation

The Americans with Disabilities Act is an important piece of legislation that aims to ensure equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Before its passing, there were no complete federal guidelines in this area.

One significant aspect of the ADA is the provision for reasonable accommodations, which plays a key role in fostering inclusivity in the workplace.


The ADA’s Title I says that employers must provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations means changing the workplace so that people with disabilities can do their jobs or join in activities fully. These changes make things fair for everyone and get rid of things that limit equal participation.

Types of reasonable accommodations

Job modifications: Employers can adjust work hours, provide special equipment or change tasks to help employees with disabilities.

Accessible facilities: Workspaces must be accessible to everyone. This could mean adding ramps, elevators and other modifications to ensure that individuals with disabilities can navigate the space comfortably.

Communication aids: Providing communication aids, such as sign language interpreters or written materials in alternative formats, is essential to facilitate effective communication for individuals with hearing or visual impairments.

The interactive process

When an employee with a disability requests a reasonable accommodation, it initiates an interactive process between the individual and the employer. This involves open communication to determine what the person needs and to find the right accommodations.

Undue hardship consideration

The ADA says reasonable accommodations are important, but it also recognizes there are limits. If it is extremely difficult or expensive for the employer to make the accommodation, it may be an undue hardship. This determination occurs on a case-by-case basis.

By knowing and accessing these rights, disabled employees can more fully share their skills and talents at work.