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Job Accommodations for People With Learning Disabilities

Job Accommodations - People with LDThe term “reasonable accommodation” refers to changes in the work place that enable people with disabilities to effectively perform the tasks associated with their job. Accommodations can help people with learning disabilities do their work well, even when their disability makes the work difficult. Accommodations can include variations in: work space and equipment needed to do the task; communication of the work; the tasks themselves; and the time and place that the work is done. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that reasonable accommodations be made by employers who have 15 or more employees. Accommodations should be based on the specific needs of the individual with learning disabilities. Employers can claim that a given accommodation is an undue hardship, and can propose a different one. The process of negotiating for reasonable accommodations is one of give and take.

You can request accommodations even if your employer has fewer than 15 workers on the job. It is to your supervisor’s advantage to help you be productive. Even people with learning disabilities who work for themselves need to think about how to incorporate accommodations into their work routines. They must identify their areas of strength and figure out how to get around areas of weakness.

The following can help you determine what kind of accommodations might be useful to overcome difficulties in the workplace:

  • Analyze the task that is giving you difficulty. Be exact about the nature of the problem you encounter.
  • Analyze the aspect of your disability that is contributing to the difficulty.
  • Brainstorm solutions. Consider changes in the work environment, your work style, your communication style, that of your supervisor, and the job itself.
  • Implement one of the solutions.
  • Assess whether the accommodation is meeting your needs. Make sure to share feedback with your supervisor and implement any necessary adjustments in work routines in order to sustain your success.

If you need suggestions, contact the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a service of the Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor. JAN Consultants have a database of over 200,000 possible accommodations and may be able to give you more ideas once they are familiar with your specific situation. (Information is also available in Spanish.)

Remember that you can do the job as well as every one else even though you are doing it in a different way. On many occasions, accommodations for people with learning disabilities have been adopted by other people in the office, raising productivity for everyone.

This article is an updated version of one originally written for NCLD’s former magazine, Their World. Dale S. Brown is an advocate for people with learning disabilities and has written many articles and several books on the topic, including Learning a Living: A Guide to Planning Your career and Finding a Job for People with Learning Disabilities, Attention Deficit Disorder, and Dyslexia.

Tags: college-adult