Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What is a reasonable accommodation?

Richard Pimentel. From

Yesterday I´ve been watching Music Within, the story of how Richard Pimentel became involved with ADA applications, resumed in an urban-architectural code for handicap people that can be downloaded on line.
Richard Pimentel is a disability rights activist who developed significant training materials aimed to help employers integrate persons with disabilities into the workplace, and was a strong advocate for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.(
Pimentel is a partner of Milt Wright & Associates, Inc., and from their papers, I´ve selected this question and answer (below), because, as the movie shows, some retails´ tenants or owners do not want to upgrade their facilities under the ADA Code, and some of them want to, but the upgrade has to be a reasonable one.
If the facilities have been approved years ago, without ADA implications, they are still fine, but, once the retail is rented again under a change of use, all the rigor of the current Codes falls upon them. But, the City official would understand if any issue of the upgrade couldn´t be done for a hardship reason, as explained below.
I had a case that was pretty weird for us. A tuxedo rental with two stories, where the factory (the sewing machines) had to be on the second floor, the exhibition room was all the first floor. Incredibly, the plan checker asked for handicap facilities in the second floor, even when per Building and Safety Code no elevator was needed.
And the owner said, how could I hire a blind person, or anybody in a wheelchair with these machines? The very nature of the job made it impossible for a handicap to apply to work with the sewing machines. Maybe you´d like to remember another movie, Dancer in the Dark, the lady was becoming blind and it was too dangerous for her to keep on working with the machines.

Question: What is a reasonable accommodation?
Basically it is some change in the job or the interview/evaluation process that takes into consideration your disability job-related limitations and enables you to still do the job or be properly and fairly evaluated.
In the interview these accommodations could be providing a sign language interpreter for someone who was deaf or hearing impaired and needed that assistance. It could be giving more time for someone to complete a test if they have a learning disability, or assisting someone to fill out an application if they have cerebral palsy and cannot fill it out on their own.
On the job, an accommodation could be many things. Changing the work schedule for someone who needs medical treatments, buying or changing equipment such as a blinking telephone or TDD for someone who is deaf or hearing impaired, changing the way that work is traditionally done as long as it still gets done. You should study what the ADA says about reasonable accommodation. One important thing to remember is that an employer may be obligated to provide an accommodation only if it is not an undue hardship on the business to do so, and reducing performance standards below that of other employees is not a reasonable accommodation. If an accommodation will not allow you to perform the essential functions of a job, then you are not qualified for the position.

Read the article in full:

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