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Reasonable Accommodation (RA)

Definition of Reasonable Accommodation

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states, “A reasonable accommodation is any change in the workplace or the way things are customarily done that provides an equal employment opportunity to an individual with a disability. While there are some things that are not considered reasonable accommodations (e.g., removal of an essential job function or personal use items such as a hearing aid that is needed on and off the job), reasonable accommodations can cover most things that enable an individual to apply for a job, perform a job, or have equal access to the workplace and employee benefits such as kitchens, parking lots, and office events.” Some common types of accommodations include, but are not limited to sit-to-stand desk, telework, assistive technology and software.

Regulations

Regulation Description
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 Prohibits discrimination based on disability and encourages employment within the federal sector
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 Prohibits discrimination and encourages employment for individuals who have disabilities within both the private and public sector
American with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 Expanded the definition of what was covered as a disability to allow more people to be covered under the law

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Disability Accommodation Procedures

Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act requires agencies to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified applicants and employees with disabilities. A "reasonable accommodation" is a change in the work environment or in work processes that enables a qualified individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. The accommodation must be effective in meeting the needs of the individual by addressing the barrier created by the functional limitations.

Types of reasonable accommodations include, but are not limited to:

  • modification or adjustment to a job application process to permit an individual with a disability to be considered for a job,
  • modification or adjustment necessary to enable a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of the job, and
  • modification or adjustment that enables an employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.

It is the policy of VA to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified applicants and employees with disabilities unless VA can show it will cause an undue hardship to the operation of the program. The budget of VA as a whole must be considered, so cost is not usually a reason for denial based on undue hardship. VA’s policy is that applicant requests should be processed as soon as possible, but in no more than ten calendar days, and employee requests must be processed in no more than 30 calendar days. Time waiting for medical documentation (for a disability that is not obvious or already documented) is not included when calculating the request processing time. For information on VA’s reasonable accommodation process, please see VA Handbook 5975.1, “Processing Requests for Reasonable Accommodation.

When funding permits, some assistive technology may be obtained for free from the U.S. Department of Defense's Computer Accommodation Program (CAP). Unfunded CAP requests and accommodations such as interpreters and readers that are not provided by CAP must be obtained by the employee's office.

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Library: Reasonable Accommodation

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List: Reasonable Accommodation Coordinators

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Resources

Note: This page links to external information on the Internet. VA is not responsible for the content or privacy policies of these Web sites, and linking to these sites does not constitute endorsement by VA of the sites' sponsors or the information, products, or services they provide.

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