National Service Inclusion Project:
A Reasonable Accommodation is an adjustment to a service position,
the service environment, or the way things are usually done that allows a
qualified individual with a disability to complete the application process,
perform essential service functions, or enjoy equal access to benefits and
privileges of service.
What you should know about Reasonable Accommodations
• The best place to start is with the individual who requested the
accommodation: often, not always, he/she will know exactly what
accommodation is needed
• Providing reasonable accommodations is not a complicated
process: it involves taking an honest look at your current
accessibility and systematically eliminating any barriers to
• Not all individuals with disabilities will require an accommodation:
studies have shown that less than half of people with disabilities
require any formal accommodation from an employer.
• Nearly ½ of accommodations cost nothing at all
• Some accommodations do result in an expense to the organization:
think of this expense as an investment in your organizations ability
to serve its mandate
o The Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work conducted
a study which showed that, on average, for every $1 an
organization puts into making an accommodation for an
employee, the organization got $10 in benefits such as
• A request for reasonable accommodations can be made at any time
during the application process or during service.
• The request occurs when an individual lets a supervisor know that
an adjustment or change is needed because of a medical condition
What should a supervisor do when an accommodation request is
• Quickly respond to the request
• When processing an accommodation request, supervisors must
consult with and include the service member or volunteer who
made the request along every step of the way
National Service Inclusion Project:
How should a supervisor explain accommodations to other service
members and volunteers?
• Supervisors have an obligation to protect the confidentiality of
service members and volunteers medical information.
• Explain that the modification is for legitimate reasons or in
compliance with federal law.
• Programs and organizations can conduct organizational disability
awareness trainings to increase everyone’s knowledge about
What other issues should supervisors consider when responding to
an accommodation request?
• Requesting an accommodation may be a first time disclosure for an
individual with a disability.
• Service members and volunteers may be concerned about
disclosing because of myths, fears, and stereotypes society has
about people with disabilities.
• Supervisors can ease some of the concerns associated with
disclosure by ensuring service members and volunteers that their
requests for accommodations will be considered, and all medical
information will be kept confidential.
• Supervisors can choose among varied accommodations as long as
the chosen accommodation is effective
o If there are two possible accommodations and one costs
more than the other, the supervisor may choose the less
burdensome accommodation as long as it is effective
The need for accommodations may change over time
• The supervisor is responsible for making sure that effective
accommodations are provided and maintained.
• Supervisors should discuss accommodation maintenance with the
service member or volunteer and determine how and if it should be
• A service member or volunteer is not guaranteed a specific
accommodation forever; supervisors can modify or stop the
accommodation for various reasons
The National Service Inclusion Project