Once an employee with a disability comes to work for your company, there may be accommodations or supports that need to be put in place for that employee to do their job. The Americans with Disabilities Act codified into law the legal requirement for providing these accommodations, but the real incentive is the increased value employees with disabilities provide when they’re properly accommodated.

A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment (or in the way things are usually done) to help people with disabilities apply for a job, perform the duties of a job or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment. Accommodations may include the following:

Examples of Accommodations

  • Schematics or visual tools, rather than text-based instruction
  • Voice input or speech recognition aids
  • Computer screen magnifiers
  • Written instructions in addition to verbal instructions
  • Camelbacks (water packs) for employees who easily become dehydrated due to medication
  • Job coaches—individuals provided by the state or other organization to help orient and train a new employee with disabilities

As you can see from these examples, workplace accommodations don’t need to be expensive or complicated. Let your new employees with disabilities and your agency partners guide you as to what might be beneficial in your workplace. Be creative, flexible and open to new ways of doing things.

In addition to accommodations, natural supports are a process for connecting individuals with disabilities to existing social supports in the work environment that are either informal (from coworkers and peers) or formal (from supervisors and company- sponsored training programs). Natural supports may include the following:

Examples of Natural Supports

  • Helping employees learn informal rules that will help them succeed in the workplace
  • Giving clear feedback
  • Giving clear directions
  • Making sure employees know how to ask for help
  • Modeling (demonstrate how to do tasks)
  • Using silence—after providing information, give time for the employee to process and come up with questions

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