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Reasonable Accommodations

A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. An accommodation must be effective in meeting the needs of the individual. In the context of job performance, this means that a reasonable accommodation enables the individual to perform the essential functions of the position. Similarly, a reasonable accommodation enables an applicant with a disability to have an equal opportunity to participate in the application process and to be considered for a job. Finally, a reasonable accommodation allows an employee with a disability an equal opportunity to enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment that employees without disabilities enjoy.

There are three categories of "reasonable accommodations":

  • modifications or adjustments to a job application process that enable a qualified applicant with a disability to be considered for the position such qualified applicant desires; or
  • modifications or adjustments to the work environment, or to the manner or circumstances under which the position held or desired is customarily performed, that enable a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of that position; or
  • modifications or adjustments that enable a covered entity's employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by its other similarly situated employees without disabilities.

Qualified employees are those who hold the necessary degrees, skills, and experience for the job; and who can perform its essential functions, with or without an accommodation. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities, unless doing so would pose an undue hardship to the agency. An individual meets the Americans with Disabilities Act definition of “disability” that would qualify them for reasonable accommodations if they have “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. The ADA prohibits discrimination based on an employee’s disability or perceived disability.

How to Request Reasonable Accommodation?

When an individual decides to request a reasonable accommodation, the individual or their representative must let the employer know that they need an adjustment or change at work for a reason related to a medical condition. The request does not have to be in writing. Individuals may request accommodation in conversation or in other forms of communication. To request accommodation, an individual may use "plain English" and does not need to mention the ADA or use the phrase "reasonable accommodation." Family members, friends, or health professionals may request an accommodation on behalf of the individual with a disability.

Reasonable Accommodation Request Form    *To view the form, please download the PDF and enable all features.

Requests for Personal Assistance Services

As required by 29 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) §1614.203(d)(5), a regulation implementing Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, Federal agencies are required to provide Personal Assistance Services (PAS), in addition to reasonable accommodation, during work hours and work-related travel to employees with targeted (severe) disabilities unless doing so would impose an undue hardship. PAS allow individuals to perform activities of daily living that an individual would typically perform if he or she did not have a disability, such as assistance with removing and putting on clothing, eating, and using the restroom.

Personal Assistance Services Request Form

For additional information regarding the reasonable accommodation process or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact OED&I