accommodations,” which is defined as “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.” For example, accommodations could include changes to a job application process that enable a qualified applicant with a disability to be considered for the position, changes that enable an employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment as others, or changes to the work environment or way in which work is customarily performed that enable a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of that position. Workplace accommodations are contextual, Sanford emphasized. They encompass whatever needs to be done—within reason—with the determination of what is reasonable often a matter of cost.

Survey of Workplace Accommodations

A recent survey of 394 currently employed individuals with at least one functional limitation sheds light on the kinds of accommodations that are deemed reasonable (Williams et al., 2006). In all these cases, the satisfaction of employees with these accommodations was rated slightly or moderately lower than their importance. With the exception of hearing aids, older adults are less likely to get big-ticket items, such as modified workstations and accessible transportation. Except for hearing loss, receiving no accommodations consistently increases with age.

Vision Limitations

Employees with vision limitations reported receiving such accommodations as reading aids, electronic media scanners, magnifiers, enlarged print, Braille documents, antiglare devices, new displays, assistants, and redesigned jobs. Nonetheless, 12 percent of 18- to 54-year-olds, 17 percent of 55- to 64-year-olds, and 50 percent of employees older than 64 reported receiving no accommodations at all (see Table 4-1).

TABLE 4-1 Percentage of Adults Reporting Accommodations for Vision Limitations

Group Electronic-Formatted Materials (OCR) Screen Reading Software Braille-Formatted Materials None Provided
18-54 10% 14% 7% 12%
55-64 7% 7% 4% 17%
65+ 0% 0% 0% 50%

NOTE: OCR = optical character recognition.

SOURCE: Williams et al., 2006.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement