Reasonable accommodation

The term reasonable accommodation is used somewhat differently in different laws:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Under the ADA, reasonable accommodation refers to the workplace. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says that a reasonable accommodation is “In general, an accommodation is 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.” A reasonable accommodation can be a physical change, a policy change, or a change in how an employee works. It can also be a piece of equipment given to an employee. A reasonable accommodation allows a person with a disability an equal opportunity to do a job and its functions, or to have an equal opportunity to apply for a position. 
  • Rehabilitation Act: The Rehabilitation Act covers federal employment as well as any agency or contractor receiving federal financial assistance. For example, most colleges and universities are covered by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. A student with a disability may receive an adjustment in their academics—such as a sign language interpreter—that allows them to have an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from education.
  • Fair Housing Act (FHA): Under the FHA, a reasonable accommodation is a change in a housing provider’s policies to allow a person with a disability to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy their residence. For example, a reasonable accommodation under the FHA could be an apartment complex allowing a resident to have an assistance animal even though pets are not permitted otherwise.

[ Read: About Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace ]

Related Resources





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    08/11/2017- Reasonable accommodation is a cornerstone of Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Reasonable accommodation allows people to approach the same work, in a way that works for them;...
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    06/11/2014-  In the postsecondary education setting, students with disabilities, faculty, and administration have rights and responsibilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA. For stud...
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    04/26/2021- This webinar is the third in the Northeast ADA's ADA 101 series. Intended for those new to the Americans with Disabilities Act or for those wanting a refresher, this webinar will focus on the employme...



What is a request for a reasonable accommodation?
A request for a reasonable accommodation: Is a request for a change in the work environment or in the way things are done that is needed because of a disability; often comes from the individual with a disability but could be from someone like a doctor or job coach; can be in plain language, without any special words; need not be started in writing, but many employers do have an official process.
Small Employer Survey Results #4
'Small Business Survey Results #4'

Most small organizations don't have robust standardized accommodation policies or procedures.

Quote: 'Our formalized policy is a sentence in the HR hand-book, and it says: We will do everything possible to accommodate anybody that needs a reasonable accommodation...'

Source: Chang, H.-Y., von Schrader, S., & Strobel Gower, W. (2019). Small organizations and Title I of the ADA: A survey study in Region 2. Ithaca, NY: Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability.

If you have questions about the Americans with Disabilities Act, contact us at 1-800-949-4232
Because of the ADA
Infographic titled 'Because of the ADA.'

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law on July 26, 1990. The ADA is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including access to jobs, schools, transportation, and public and private places that are open to the general public. The law is divided into five titles (or areas) where the various protections for people with disabilities are spelled out. The goal of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

Here are just a few of the positive effects that can be observed today, all because of the ADA.

Are you going out into the community? You can park in an accessible parking space. You can take an accessible bus. You can easily enter stores because of a curb ramp and doors that are accessible. You can navigate through stores along a clear path of travel. Signage at areas like bathrooms is clear and concise with raised characters and Braille. Drinking fountains are accessible. The checkout counter and service counters you encounter are lower and more accessible. You can bring your service animal with you.

Are you going to the movies? theaters offer assisted listening devices to help you hear better.

Are you making a phone call? You can use a relay service to assist you with communication.

Are you going to a concert or sporting event? You have access to wheelchair accessible seats alongside your friends and family.

Are you going to work? You can request a change in how things are typically done from your employer, called a reasonable accommodation, to assist you with work tasks.

Are you going to vote or to a town meeting? Your polling place and municipal programs, offices and meetings must be accessible to you.

Are you going to the Doctor? You can request an interpreter to communicate more efficiently. You can request medical information in a manner that works for you.

Nearly 37 million people in our country have a disability and nearly 25% of today's 20 year olds will experience disability in their lifetime. (ADA National Network, ADA Anniversary Toolkit)

'This Act is powerful in its simplicity. it will ensure that people with disabilities are given the basic guarantees for which they have worked so long and hard. Independence, freedom of choice, control of their own lives, the opportunity to blend fully and equally into the rich mosaic of the American mainstream.' -President George H.W. Bush, ADA Signing Ceremony, July 26, 1990
Service Animals Under the Fair Housing Act
Infographic titled 'Service Animals Under the Fair Housing Act' featuring a dog lying on a dog bed and several text boxes.

Service Animals Under the Fair Housing Act:
Requires reasonable accommodation to allow the animal to live with the handler. 
Housing providers cannot charge a pet deposit or other fees.
Housing providers can ask for documentation when a disability is not readily apparent.
Service Animals at Work: Helpful Tip #1
Infographic titled 'Service Animals at Work: Helpful Tip #1' featuring a sitting service dog in a vest.

Service Animals at Work - Helpful Tip #1:
You can request a reasonable accommodation from your employer if you need a service animal.

If you have any questions about the Americans with Disabilities Act, contact us at 1-800-949-4232