Support Employees with Disabilities
Defining a Disability
Title I of the American with Disabilities Act protects qualified individuals with disabilities from employment discrimination. Under the ADA, a person has a disability if he has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. The ADA also protects individuals who have a record of a substantially limiting impairment, and people who are regarded as having a substantially limiting impairment.
Today, about 50 million Americans, or 1 in 5 people, are living with at least one disability, and most Americans will experience a disability some time during the course of their lives.
Disabilities Should Not Limit Employee Performance
Anyone can have a disability; however, it should not limit that person's ability to do his or her job. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide an employee identified as having a disability with reasonable accommodations. A reasonable accommodation (RA) is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of a job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities.
Reasonable accommodation may include acquiring or modifying equipment or devices; job restructuring; part-time or modified work schedules; reassignment to a vacant position; adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials or policies; providing readers and interpreters, and making the workplace readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.
In addition to changes to a workspace or workplace materials and policies, reasonable accommodation may involve altering a building or external facility to make it accessible to those with disabilities. Examples of accessibility reasonable accommodation may include the following:
- Building ramps that are easily accessible
- Raised lettering and Braille are used on signs, such as those on elevators, near bathrooms and exits
- Parking spaces close to entrances
- Removal of obstructions in hallways
- Evacuation plans for those with disabilities
- Widening of interior doorways and entryways
CDC's Reasonable Accommodation Policy
Persons with disabilities are integral to CDC's public health mission. CDC prohibits discrimination, denial of services, hiring or promotion of any employee that has a disability. CDC's Disability Programs and Reasonable Accommodation Services Office handles all reasonable accommodation requests. CDC provides reasonable accommodations:
- when an applicant with a disability needs an accommodation for any part of the application or hiring process in order to be considered for a job;
- when an employee with a disability needs an accommodation to enable him or her to perform the essential functions of the job or to gain access to the workplace; and
- when an employee with a disability needs an accommodation to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.
CDC processes requests for reasonable accommodation and, where appropriate, provides reasonable accommodations in a prompt, fair, and efficient manner. As a model employer, CDC may take steps, as appropriate, beyond those required by the reasonable accommodation process.
There is No Charge for Support
Employees are not required to pay for their reasonable accommodation. The ADA requires that the employer provide the accommodation unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business.
A person with a disability should not shy away from entering the job market. If a person thinks he or she will need a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions, he or she should inform the employer that an accommodation will be needed. Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodation only for the physical or mental limitations of a qualified individual with a disability of which they are aware. Generally, it is the responsibility of the employee to inform the employer that an accommodation is needed.
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