Webinar: Centralized Accommodation Programs

 

audio version (opens in a new tab)

 

Introduction

As I mentioned in

my blog post last week, “Webinar: NDEAM 2021”,

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. As I wrote at that time, October is one of my favorite months because of NDEAM. On October 26, 2021, I attended an archived webinar presented by the

Employer Assistance Resource Network

entitled

“Increasing Disability Inclusion: Centralized Accommodation Programs as a Best Practice”.

It was presented on October 20, 2021 and discussed the topic of how to provide accommodations from the employer’s perspective. The link above provides archived recording and presentation materials. As an individual with disability who is currently employed, my takeaways may be different from those of someone else. In this blog post, I will summarize what I learned.

 

The first presenter is an attorney at time of writing. The second presenter represented an employer. That presenter acknowledged being a person with disability.

Presentation 1: Importance of Disability Diversity and accommodation programs

Diversity by including employees with disability make legal sense, per the attorney. Each company has its own culture. The presenter said that Title I of the ADA requires reasonable accommodation. It also prohibits company policy which discrimination through failure to provide accommodations. This Title of the ADA covers both federal agencies and the private sector. The presenter then specified reasons to have a centralized accommodation program.

 

Reasons to Have an Accommodation Program

There are four reasons for providing an accommodation program. First, accommodations are addressed by providing a timely and consistent interactive process. Second, accommodations need to enable an employee to do their job by removing financial burden concern. Third, establish a single method for accountability to address legitimate concerns about providing accommodations. Finally, a central accommodation program shows that accommodation provision will be effective and include the employee. Implementation strategies from a legal perspective were then explained.

 

Implementation Strategies: A Legal Perspective

The first important implementation strategy is leadership which recognizes the importance of everyone. Second, determine the scope of implementation. This means how/where accommodations will be provided within the company culture. Example: some companies pay for all accommodations with cost involved, other employers do not. The event then transitioned to a presentation by an employer.

 

Presentation 2: An Employer’s Perspective

The employer has had a central accommodations program in place for years. She recommends that other employers determine the best method to account for accommodations (data). The presenter said her company was able to identify accommodation patterns. It was helpful to hear from employees who received accommodations. It was also helpful for the employers to speak with other executives. The goal of outreach was considering the experiences of employees and other organizations. The presenter’s last point was the value of centralizing costs. This mean determining where money is being spent in accommodation purchase. The company’s representative then spoke about implementation accommodation program strategies which worked for that employer.

Implementation Strategies: An Employer’s Perspective

The employer networked with other firms to determine what worked for them. This enabled the central accommodation program to purchase items. The company is looking to expand accommodations beyond items requiring payment. When a company has a centralized accommodation program, it is important for staff in the program to be competent by developing solutions. Effective communication can make the accommodation request process clear. Bottom line: It is crucial to consider accommodations from an individual’s perspective.

 

Question for Readers

Considering your role (employee with disability, employer, etcetera), what strategies do you use to ensure accommodations are provided for people with disabilities? I shall return with another article.

 

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