All of us need the right tools and supports to do our jobs effectively, whether it’s a computer, a desk lamp, a flexible schedule or one of countless other productivity enhancements that power our on-the-job performance. While one can argue that such workplace supports are leveraged by every employee, every day, we most often hear them referred to as “reasonable accommodations” in the context of workers with disabilities.
Accommodations make it easier for an employee with a disability to successfully perform the duties of his or her position. And until recently, accommodations were most often thought of in relation to specific disabilities. However, in the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Amendments Act of 2008, that approach is changing for the better. Instead of focusing on an employee’s particular disability, smart employers are considering just the resulting limitation that might be preventing the employee from performing to the fullest. And now, there’s a new tool to help all businesses do just that.

The ODEP-funded Job Accommodation Network (JAN) recently launched a new feature on its website called “Accommodation Information by Limitation A-Z.” This tool allows users to find accommodation ideas by searching for the type of limitation an employee is experiencing, regardless of the underlying diagnosis. For example, instead of searching under a particular mental health condition to assist someone whose medication is causing distraction, the user can search using the keyword “concentration” to find an accommodation solution. Similarly, the term “speaking” will identify accommodation ideas for someone who has difficulty projecting his or her voice — regardless of why.

Linda Carter Batiste, one of JAN’s principal consultants, explores these issues in a recent blog post, but reinforces that, in addition to the new limitation feature, JAN’s database can still be searched by disability and by topic. “Sometimes it’s necessary to know the type of disability involved in order to come up with effective accommodations,” she writes. “But when it’s not necessary, you can save time by just focusing on the limitation.” It’s a logical approach that is often the quickest pathway to a mutually beneficial workplace solution.

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