What is a Reasonable Accommodation under the ADA?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (www.ada.gov) ("ADA") requires employer to provide “reasonable accommodations” to their disabled employees.  But what exactly is a reasonable accommodation under the ADA? The Code of Federal Regulations defines an accommodation as “any change in the work environment or the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities."


In general, there are 3 categories of reasonable accommodations:  (1) modifications/adjustments to the job application process, (2) modifications/adjustments to the work environment, or (3) modifications/adjustments that enable the employee equal benefits and privileges of employment that similarly situated employees without disabilities enjoy.  In general, the disabled employee must inform the employer of his or her desire for an accommodation.

A reasonable accommodation under the ADA may include:

  • making existing facilities accessible;
  • job restructuring;
  • part-time or modified work schedules;
  • telecommuting
  • acquiring or modifying equipment;
  • changing tests, training materials, or policies;
  • reassignment

Recall that the accommodation has to be “reasonable.”  While there is no clear cut test for what is reasonable, it essentially comes down to common sense.  To be reasonable an accommodation has to be practically feasible from the employer’s perspective.  From the employee’s perspective, an accommodation is reasonable when it enables the employee to perform the essential functions of his or her own job and provides him or her with an equal opportunity to enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment that employees without disabilities enjoy.

Too many people misunderstand their rights under disability discrimination laws.  If you have any questions, please contact us for further information.