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Job Accommodation Examples

Accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis. They are made as a cooperative effort among the employee with a disability and the employer. Depending on the nature of the services being provides and the preferences of the individual with a disability, One-Stop Center employment counselors may be involved in this process. Other individuals may also be involved such as union representatives, etc.

The main issues to be considered are:

Accommodations may include specialized equipment, facility modifications, adjustments to work schedules or job duties, as well as a whole range of other creative solutions.

Offered below are examples of accommodations that have been made for qualified workers with disabilities. These are strictly a sampling of accommodations that have been made, and this list is by no means all encompassing concerning possible solutions to accommodation issues.

To receive guidance on specific problems and possible solutions, call the USDOL Office of Disability and Employment Policys Job Accommodation Network at 800-526-7234, or 800-ADA-WORK (800-232-9675); e-mail:; web site: JAN is a free service.

Mental Retardation
Blind/Visual Impairment
Learning Disability
Deaf/Hard of Hearing
Physical Disability
Mental Health/Psychiatric Disability
Medical Disability
Head Injury/Traumatic Brain Injury

Mental Retardation

PROBLEM: A cashier with mild mental retardation has difficulty making change.
SOLUTION: The worker uses a talking calculator and a chart of bills and coins. COST: $150

PROBLEM: A greenhouse worker with mental retardation has difficulty correctly mixing various chemicals.
SOLUTION: Measuring cups, a checklist, and the chemicals have been color-coded in a coordinated manner so the person can accomplish tasks by matching colors. COST: $25

Blind/Visual Impairment

PROBLEM: A new restaurant employee who is legally blind uses a service dog to travel to and from work. The employee does not need the dog to perform her job duties.
SOLUTION: A dog crate is placed in a back office with a clear path of travel in and out of the facility. The dog is crated during the work day and is out of any contact with food products or supplies used in the restaurant. COST: $75

PROBLEM: A receptionist who is blind works at a law firm. She cannot see the lights on the phone console which indicate which telephone lines are ringing, on hold, or in use by staff.
SOLUTION: The employer purchases a light-probe, a penlike product which detects a lighted button. COST: $45

PROBLEM: An assembler/operator with a severe vision limitation has the job of wrapping hose-pipe fittings with special tape. This requires close examination of the work materials. Quality of work is very important.
SOLUTION: A total view magnifier on an adjustable swivel base is installed. COST: $450

PROBLEM: A legal department secretary in the cable television industry who is legally blind has to perform such duties as typing, answering telephones, filing and photo-copying.
SOLUTION: The employee is given a specially designed work table to hold a personal computer, a printer and a VTEK (a large print display processor which replaces the smaller standard terminal screen), all of which can be easily accessed. An automatic paper feeder is added to the printer. COST: $1,360

PROBLEM: A college professor with AIDS is having vision problems associated with the disability. His greatest difficulty is in grading student papers.
SOLUTION: A video magnification system is purchased which facilitated his reading the papers. In addition, students who use the schools word processing system are asked to provide copies of their papers on computer diskette. This allows the professor to use a computer speech synthesis system which the school has already purchased for students and staff with vision problems. COST: $2,600

Learning Disability

PROBLEM: Because of low reading skills a child care assistant with a learning disability has difficulty preparing lessons based on childrens books.
SOLUTION: The employee is given a videotape of various childrens stories and effective hand motions to review. COST: $50

PROBLEM: A quick service restaurant grill operator has a severe learning disability. He can not read, and can recognize only specific single letters on orders for hamburgers.
SOLUTION: Condiment bins are coded with the first letter of the item so that a worker can match the orders to the bins. In addition, he is taught three key words (only, none, and plain) through flash card repetition. COST: Less than $25

PROBLEM: A person with an attention deficit disorder works in a packaging facility and is having problems staying on the task.
SOLUTION: The employer provides a tape recorder with headphones and cassette tapes which contains music and frequent reminders to attend to the work. This reduces distractions and helps prompt the individual to focus on the job. COST: Less than $200

Deaf/Hard of Hearing

PROBLEM: A worker who is deaf is responsible for inspecting underground water utilities. When the employee is underground alone, co-workers above ground need to communicate with him.
SOLUTION:A wireless portable vibrating paging system is purchased for the employee. COST: $445

PROBLEM: A teacher with a hearing impairment has difficulties hearing the students voices over the squeaks of chairs and desks moving over the linoleum floor. Also, the teacher can not see some of the students faces and therefore cannot effectively lip read.
SOLUTION: To eliminate noise, used tennis balls are cut and attached to the feet of the chairs and desks. The teacher rearranges the desks in a horseshoe in order to see the faces of all students. COST: $0 (The tennis balls are donated by an avid tennis player who would have thrown them away.)

PROBLEM: A technician in the telephone service industry uses a hearing aid. The job duties include installing and repairing telephone lines, which includes using a butt-in portable test phone that is attached to telephone lines being repaired. The test set interfered with the technicians hearing aid.
SOLUTION: A butt-in test set equipped with an audio speaker is purchased which allows the worker to test lines without having to place the test set against the ear. This device is also useful for workers NOT wearing hearing aids. In addition, the technician is provided with an amplified tone locator. COST: $200

PROBLEM: A large grocery store wants to hire an individual with Down Syndrome and a mild hearing loss as a bagger/stock person. The concern is that he will not be able to hear the paging loudspeaker system that is used to call employees to different parts of the store for work assignments.
SOLUTION: A personal paging device, which is worn on the wrist or belt and which vibrates when activated by an incoming signal, is purchased for the employee. When signaled, the employee immediately goes to the office for specific instructions. In this way, the employer can be sure that the employee both heard and understood his assigned tasks. COST: $350

Physical Disability

PROBLEM: A technical editor in the publishing industry has a spinal cord injury and needs to work lying on his back.
SOLUTION: A work station is provided that enabled the editor to work on a computer while in a supine position. COST: $2,000

PROBLEM: A department store retail clerk with multiple sclerosis uses a scooter and has problems with stamina.
SOLUTION: The employee is reassigned to a department on the first floor, provided with space for the scooter, given a sit/lean stool at the register, and scheduled for first shift with every third day off. COST: $200

PROBLEM: An individual who has a congenital heart defect which limits strenuous activity, and mobility limitations due to childhood polio works as a receiving clerk, which requires unpacking merchandise, checking it in, assigning numbers, and making price checks.
SOLUTION: A rolling chair with locking wheels, which adjusts to the level of the task. COST: $200.

PROBLEM: A company vice president with arthritis has difficulty maintaining stamina during the workday.
SOLUTION: The employer provides flexibility in the vice presidents work hours and a recliner for her office so that she can change body positions to cut down on fatigue. COST: $750

PROBLEM: A clerk with low back strain/sprain has limitations in lifting, bending, and squatting, all results of lower back injury. The job requires mail sorting and filing incoming documents in a large numerical filing system.
SOLUTION: Both the clerk and the documents are put on wheels. A rolling file stool is supplied for use when filing at lower levels, and upper-drawer filing is done with documents on a rolling cart, without need to lift or bend. COST: $44

PROBLEM: A computer service technician with cerebral palsy loses function of the lower extremities. The job related problems include bending, stooping, balancing, and getting underneath the mainframe equipment to perform need repairs.
SOLUTION: An automotive repair creeper is purchased and modified with back support to enable the employee to slide easily under the mainframes. COST: $30

PROBLEM: A clerks hand has two large fingers instead of four fingers and a thumb, and her arms are unusually short. This makes it difficult for her to perform some of her job duties, including answering incoming phone calls and accessing a computer to check information for customer service representatives.
SOLUTION: A large button overlay is used on the telephone; and a ball-shaped device, with a pencil stylus going through it, is used to facilitate taking messages and typing. Also used is a strap-on hand stylus for straight typing. COST: $15

PROBLEM: An electro-mechanical assembly crew member acquires a cumulative wrist/hand trauma disorder which affects handling and fingering functions. This decreases his ability to use hand tools for the assembly of electro-mechanical devices.
SOLUTION: A rechargeable electric screwdriver is purchased, to reduce repetitious wrist twisting. These are subsequently purchased for all employees as a preventative measure. COST: $65

PROBLEM: A clerk whose job duties include delivering files and paperwork to various areas in a multistory building has multiple sclerosis which gradually makes it very difficult to move quickly and to carry heavy packages.
SOLUTION: A lightweight, motorized three-wheeled scooter with a basket is purchased for the employee. COST: $2,000

PROBLEM: An airline programmer/analyst with post-polio fatigue brought on by stress cannot be on call 24 hours a day and work overtime as need.
SOLUTION: Waiver of the requirements of 24-hour on-call duty and overtime. The employee works the hours prescribed for older adult worker program participants of the airline. COST: $0

PROBLEM: An assembler for a furniture manufacturer has spinal degeneration, uncoordinated gait and balance difficulties. The limitations involve walking, carrying materials and balancing.
SOLUTION: Installing a plywood platform to raise part of the work station, suspending tools from the ceiling to balance their weight and using a cart to move assembly parts. COST: $200

PROBLEM: An experienced electronics equipment inspector paralyzed from the waist down needs to perform tasks related to using precision equipment and assembly inspection; he needs rapid mobility around the plant.
SOLUTION: A heavy motorized wheelchair is stored on the premises overnight for his use in the plant. The employee uses his lightweight chair for travel. The bins containing items to be inspected are lowered, and a lap-board is provided for his specification books. COST: less than $200.

PROBLEM: The back problem of a well-drilling rig operator is aggravated by the constant vibration of the standard seat in the rig.
SOLUTION: A scientifically designed mechanical seat is installed which allows the operator to make necessary adjustments of position, absorbing most of the vibration. The seat is used by all workers and prevents additional trauma. COST: $1,100.

Mental Health/Psychiatric Disability

PROBLEM: A sales manager in a computer supply company is diagnosed with severe chronic depression. Although treatment is initiated, she continues to experience bouts of crying during times of stress.
SOLUTION: After discussion with her employer, she is provided with the use of a small room for privacy. This room previously was usesd to store office supplies. When she feels the need, she can take a break and use this private area to compose herself. A new cabinet is purchased to store the office supplies. COST: $200

PROBLEM: A productive worker with schizophrenia that was diagnosed and treated successfully years earlier has begun to show radical behavior changes.
SOLUTION: When confidential talks with the employee are not beneficial, the employee and employer agree that the employee will meet with a psychiatrist. The meeting results in a change of medication which regulates the problem behaviors. The employer pays for the counseling session. Cost: less than $200

PROBLEM: A data entry clerk has agoraphobia and has difficulty traveling during peak hours of traffic.
SOLUTION: The employees work hours are changed from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. to 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. COST: $0

PROBLEM: A clerk-typist with severe depression and problems with alcoholism experiences problems with the quality and quantity of her work.
SOLUTION: Employee is provided with extended sick leave to cover a short period of hospitalization and a modified work schedule to attend weekly psychotherapy treatment. Treatment is covered by company medical plan. COST: $0

PROBLEM: A human resources manager has seasonal affective disorder, a condition requiring adequate light during a sufficient number of daytime hours to ward off depression.
SOLUTION: A simple device called a sunlight box is installed in the persons office. COST: $265

Medical Disability

PROBLEM: As the result of diabetes, a productive employee in a retail business is experiencing fatigue, and needs time during the day to administer medication. She is having difficulty performing her sales duties for a sustained period of time.
SOLUTION: The employees schedule is altered to allow for a longer meal break and for special brief time periods during the day to administer medication. COST: $0

PROBLEM: An insurance claims adjuster becomes ill when exposed to certain chemicals in the air (chemical sensitivity).
SOLUTION: The ventilation system in the employees office is modified, and co-workers are asked not to use scented products. The employee is also permitted to attend staff and training meetings remotely by speaker phone and to wear a mask when need. COST: $650

PROBLEM: A worker with a polycystic renal (kidney) disease is a senior technician in the coal industry who is responsible for the preparation of samples for testing. This employee requires Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD) four times daily, with one exchange occurring during working hours.
SOLUTION: Space is made available in the dispensary for the employee to perform CAPD while at work. Storage space is also provided for extra supplies to be used in case of bad weather emergencies necessitating a second exchange at work. COST: $0

PROBLEM: A personnel manager with AIDS experiences a serious drop in energy levels during the mid-afternoon hours.
SOLUTION: A small chair that converts to a sleeping mat is provided. During a 90-minute afternoon break, the employee puts a Do not disturb sign on the door and takes a nap. All staff meetings are scheduled for the morning. The employee makes up the time in the evening or on weekends as necessary. COST: $50

PROBLEM: An administrative assistant with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has difficulty with using the phone, typing, computer input, completing forms and reports, and doing some filing.
SOLUTION: A cordless headset for the telephone is purchased, arm rest extensions from the edge of the desk are installed to reduce strain on wrists and arms, and a new effortless lock and handle are installed on the restroom door. COST: $450

Head Injury/Traumatic Brain Injury

PROBLEM: A worker with traumatic brain injury (TBI) is employed at a bank, processing checks and other transactions. Items must be numbered and placed into a sorting machine tray in a special manner. The problem lays in periodic confusion due to memory loss and weakness in one side of his body.
SOLUTION: A job coach/trainer supplied by the rehabilitation agency assists in special training in task sequencing, and equipment is adjusted to accommodate weakness. COST: $0

These examples are excerpted from materials developed by the Presidents Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. Used with permission.

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