Workplace Accommodations Are an Integral Part of Disability Inclusion
Inclusion works, and at the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), we can tell you – with research to back it up – that the benefits employers receive from implementing effective workplace accommodations far outweigh the low cost. We call this research the JAN Study. The JAN Study has been ongoing since 2004. In that time, more than 2,250 employers have been interviewed. Employers in the JAN study represent a range of industry sectors and business sizes, and they first contacted JAN for information about specific accommodation situations. Approximately eight weeks after their initial contact, these employers were asked a series of questions about the situation they discussed with JAN.
In the JAN Study, employers reported that providing accommodations resulted in such benefits as retaining valuable employees; improving productivity and morale; reducing workers’ compensation and training costs; and improving company diversity. These benefits were obtained with little investment. The employers in the study also reported that a high percentage (59 percent) of accommodations cost absolutely nothing to make, while the rest typically cost less than $500.
Below are a couple examples of low-cost accommodations. To read more on various accommodation options for people with disabilities, visit JAN’s Searchable Online Accommodation Resource (SOAR).
- A sales representative with a construction company experienced migraine headaches and was sensitive to office lighting. As a reasonable accommodation, the employer modified a workplace dress code policy and allowed the employee to wear sunglasses at work. By making this accommodation, the employee’s attendance improved and the employer felt that it had accommodated a qualified employee and adhered to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The employer reported that the accommodation cost nothing.
- A veteran who worked as an insurance company representative had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a traumatic brain injury. He was sensitive to certain environmental noises. The office had recently been remodeled and rearranged, and the employee was experiencing anxiety due to audio and visual distractions in his workspace. As a reasonable accommodation, the employer provided noise canceling headphones with white noise capabilities and noise reduction barriers in his workstation. The employer stated that the employee and his supervisor were happy with the outcome, and the organization was glad to accommodate a veteran. The reported cost was $350.
Workplace accommodations are effective. Employers who had implemented accommodations, by the time they were interviewed, were asked to rank the effectiveness of the accommodations on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being extremely effective. Of those responding, 75 percent reported the accommodations were either very effective or extremely effective. You can read more on the results of the JAN study in JAN’s Accommodation and Compliance Series document – Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact.
Not only has JAN gained and shared knowledge from the JAN Study on the cost and benefit of workplace accommodation, but in over 30 years of conversations with employers and individuals with disabilities, JAN has developed tools for employers and people with disabilities to help facilitate and implement effective workplace accommodation practices.
Recently, JAN released a new toolkit called JAN’s Workplace Accommodation Toolkit. The JAN Toolkit includes sample accommodation procedures; examples of policies and forms from leading U.S. businesses; training presentations; role-play videos; and best practices for creating an inclusive workplace for people with disabilities. The Toolkit provides inclusive practices at various phases of the employment life cycle for recruiters; hiring managers and supervisors; human resource professionals; accommodation consultants; and allies of employees with disabilities. Checklists are also available to help keep track of the accommodation process.
Because JAN is a technical assistance service of the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), all of these resources are free. You can access the JAN Workplace Accommodation Toolkit by using the following link: http://prod.askjan.org/toolkit/
Want to learn more about how JAN can help you? Check out JAN’s new video – JAN is here for YOU! We encourage you to contact JAN directly for a one-on-one confidential conversation, or check out JAN’s extensive website, AskJAN.org, for more information on how you can benefit from implementing effective workplace accommodations.
Anne E. Hirsh,
Co-Director, Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
Anne Hirsh has been with JAN since 1986. She became a consultant in 1988 and then was appointed to Associate Manager in 1994. In the fall of 2007, Anne became JAN Co-Director with Lou Orslene. Anne has a Master’s of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling and Vocational Evaluation from West Virginia University. In 2006 she received WVU College of Human Resource and Education Laddie R. Bell Distinguished Service Award for her national, regional and local service to people with disabilities. Through the years she has worked with all JAN teams. Her primary focus was with the sensory team. She currently serves as a "floater" filling in where needed. Additionally, Anne presents on accommodation and employment issues for national, regional, and local audiences. Anne's research interests include effective approaches in accommodation, educating both employers and individuals on successful means of communicating accommodation needs, and accommodations of individuals with hearing loss and individuals with psychiatric impairments.