What is Reasonable Accommodation and how can HCPs leverage the law to help their patients?
Reasonable accommodation (RA) is any change to the application or hiring process, to the job, to the way the job is done, or the work environment. The aforementioned change allows a person with a disability who is qualified for the job to perform the essential functions of that job and enjoy equal employment opportunities. Accommodations are considered “reasonable” if they do not create an undue hardship or a direct threat to a company.
RA is supported by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. Federal employees are also protected by Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Applying for reasonable accommodation
Under the ADA, a worker can apply for reasonable accommodations if they have “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” Documented hearing loss would qualify an individual to take advantage of RA – not only to improve their work day, but also limit financial implications of assistive devices. Under the ADA, employers who have 15 or more employees are usually required to provide reasonable accommodations. Some state and local laws may require that employers with fewer employees provide reasonable accommodations.
How can you help your patients take advantage of ADA law? The first step is confidently educating your patient on the process to apply for accommodations. For your patients, this begins with disclosure of a disability, as employers are only required to accommodate disabilities of which they are aware. It is important to note that the process must be interactive, with participation by both the person with a disability and the employer, and in our case, the HCP as well, so that an effective solution may be agreed upon.
Phonak Roger Easy Guide
If a Phonak Roger™ microphone ends up being the best solution to suit your patient’s workplace needs, I would recommend using the Roger Easy Guide to figure out the best setup. The Easy Guide will allow you to rank order the situations your patient is struggling in at work, home and social life, and provides results that speak to the best microphone setup, along with descriptions of the recommended microphones themselves. This can be easily printed or emailed for the patient to share with a family member or human resources representative. This brief video will walk you and your patients through the entire application process.
Next steps and additional information
Many workers may be hesitant to take advantage of an opportunity like RA out of fear of discrimination. It is paramount that you as the practitioner reinforce that an employer cannot discriminate upon an employee as a result of disclosing their disability/requesting assistance. Any cases of discrimination in these instances are litigated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), who are in place to administer and enforce civil rights laws against workplace discrimination.
To find out more about Reasonable Accommodation for working employees, reach out to your Phonak Account Representative. Additionally, more information on Reasonable Accommodation can be found at: us.morethanahearingaid.com/ada, www.ada.com, and www.askjan.com.