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Arranging Accommodations : Disability sub-module 6 of 6

In the interview process and in the workplace, persons with disabilities are entitled to access the same opportunities and benefits as those who don’t have disabilities. For some persons with disabilities, this means that certain adjustments need to be made in order for them to perform the duties of their job. Any such adjustment is known as an accommodation.

 

About accommodations

Employers have a legal “duty to accommodate - open in a new window” to ensure that those who are otherwise fit to work are not unjustly excluded where workplace adjustments can be made. You will be most productive when you are given the tools you need to do your job. Consider the following:

  • Accommodation needs vary widely from person to person and can be related to the individual, the environment, the tasks or the tools needed to perform a job/task.
  • You may need accommodation at any stage in the employment relationship including before the job begins (testing, interviews), within the work environment, during training and/or at times of promotion.
  • An employer is not obligated to provide the exact accommodation you prefer, but they cannot decide on an accommodation without consultation with you.
  • Employers cannot use your need for accommodation to evaluate your merits when you’re applying for a job.
  • The probationary period for a job should start after you have been accommodated.

Responsibilities and Understanding Your Needs

Responsibilities

According to the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), employers and employees have specific roles and responsibilities for the process of accommodation.

If you request an accommodation at work, you are required to do the following:

  • Make your accommodation needs known to the employer, preferably in writing
  • Answer questions or provide information to the employer on your limitations, which may include information or documentation from a health care provider
  • Discuss potential accommodation solutions with the employer
  • Collaborate with experts when assistance is needed
  • Work with the employer on an ongoing basis to manage the accommodation process
  • Meet performance standards and job requirements once accommodations are put in place
  • Discuss disability and associated needs only with those who need to know

Employers have an obligation to accommodate all disabilities up to the point of “undue hardship” according to the OHRC. The factors that determine if an accommodation would cause undue hardship are cost, outside sources of funding (if any), and health and safety regulations (if any).

Employers are required to do the following:

  • Attempt to provide needed accommodations without requesting information that is not necessary
  • Be aware that a person may need an accommodation even if they haven’t requested one
  • Accept a person’s request in good faith
  • Obtain the opinion of an expert or further advice, if needed
  • Examine alternative approaches and possible accommodations solutions
  • Keep a record of accommodation requests and documenting what actions were taken
  • Maintain confidentiality and respecting the dignity of the person requesting accommodation
  • Request only information related to the nature of the limitation mentioned
  • Process and implement accommodation requests in a timely manner
  • Cover the cost of any medical information or documentation being requested

Typically, the employer does not have the right to your confidential information, unless the information clearly relates to the accommodation you are requesting or your needs are complex or unclear and more information is needed to make a proper assessment. They can ask questions about your ability to perform the functions of the job, but cannot ask for specific information about the disability such as the name or diagnosis.

Understanding your needs

If you’re starting co-op, a placement, or a new job, you might be asking yourself, “How do I know what accommodations I need?” Perhaps you have recently acquired a disability or are simply unaware of how your disability will impact your ability to do a job.

You will be the first to know what you need. A good starting place is to think about the academic accommodations you’ve received in the past to see how they might transfer to a workplace setting. You can also talk with your employer and come up with solutions together. Here are some resources with examples of potential accommodations:

Examples of types of accommodations:

  • Restructuring work or daily tasks. E.g. larger tasks are divided into smaller ones
  • Acquiring or modifying equipment, software or devices needed to do the job. E.g. computer screen magnifier, voice input or speech recognition aids, ergonomic chair
  • Changing work locations. E.g. a quiet workspace, working from home
  • Creating flexible or modified work schedules. E.g. reduced or part-time hours, frequent breaks, self- paced workload
  • Offering retraining options or job reassignment. E.g. assigned to a new position
  • Changing workplace facilities to be more accessible. E.g. an accessible door opener, improved lighting
  • Providing assistance through a support service or person. E.g. an ASL interpreter

Sources