Everything You Should Know About Requesting Workplace Accommodations

We all want to work and be productive, but ensuring you have the resources to succeed in the workplace when you have a disability can feel overwhelming. If you’re still applying for jobs or would like to ask your employer for an accommodation, continue reading to learn more about workplace accommodations.

What is a reasonable accommodation?

As you begin thinking about your workplace success, you must first understand what qualifies as a reasonable accommodation.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against applicants and employees with disabilities. For example, employers cannot refuse to hire someone who is disabled if they are otherwise qualified. The ADA also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees and applicants.

A reasonable accommodation is an assistance or a change in the job or the workplace allowing an employee with a disability to do a job. Reasonable accommodations generally fall into one of these categories:

Be prepared when you request your accommodation. Be professional and show the employer you have done your homework. Here are some tips for requesting an on-the-job accommodation.

Set the stage.

Demonstrate your ability to be productive. Always produce your best work. Arrive on time or stay connected when you are supposed to if you work at home.

Be helpful and show initiative. Complete your tasks and projects on time. View additional tasks as another way to serve your company. If your employer knows you are willing to work hard, they will respond better to you when you ask for accommodation.


Know your legal rights as a person with a disability. Articulating your rights under the ADA will give you confidence when you ask for an accommodation.

Consider the following questions as you evaluate your job and work environment:

Find solutions.

Answering the questions above will help you explain the accommodations you need to your employer. For example, maybe you need your company’s IT department to help you enable Windows Magnifier so you can read text on your computer screen. Perhaps you need to be moved to an area with more natural light to decrease eye strain.

The key is to bring some proposed solutions to your employer. Articulating your problem and how you plan to solve it will increase your chances of success. Suggesting ideas will also get the person you are talking to thinking. Maybe someone in your company uses a different screen magnifier, allowing you to quickly try it out to see if it will work for you.

Make your request.

In addition to your current challenges and proposed solutions, you will need a specific description of what is causing your workplace challenge. You do not legally have to disclose your disability under the ADA, but you do need a specific reason for your accommodation request. Be prepared for suggested alternatives, as employers can offer different solutions that would result in the same outcome.

If you make the request in person, follow up with the same information in writing. Be brief. Clearly articulate your reason for your request and explain how the requested accommodation will help at work.

What if your accommodation request is denied?

If your employer denies your accommodation request, you have available options under the ADA.

  1. Learn more about the denial by emailing your employer. This information can help you determine your next steps.

  2. Consider an appeal. You can appeal the decision if your accommodation is reasonable and your employer’s denial is invalid. Some employers have an appeal process. Start with your human resources department or manager.

  3. Engage advocacy or legal services for support. Ideally, asking for more information about the denial and appealing the decision should lead to further engagement in the interactive process under the ADA and a fair outcome. If this does not happen, please get in touch with your state protection and advocacy agency for this assistance.

Outlook Enrichment can help you assess the workplace accommodations you might need. Please feel free to contact us to learn more.

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