By Patsy Webb, M.A.Ed.S., and FLC Career Coach
Easy and reasonable accommodations improve an already great fit
When Kate started her new internship in the jewelry–making department of a local clothing store, she had a wonderful personality but very limited experience working in a workshop environment. There was a lot of hammering noise, music playing, talking among coworkers, and people flowing in and out. Due to her intellectual disability, she was easily distracted, and her new role of quality control was going to take concentration and attention to very small details. In order to set her up for success, the employer made a few very easy and reasonable accommodations.
What are “reasonable accommodations”?
The term “reasonable accommodations” was first introduced in the Americans with Disabilities Act and has set a standard for employers to consider when they hire someone with a disability. These possible changes to the work environment or structure of the job give the individual a fair and appropriate opportunity to work in a way that will help them be successful. These changes also help the individual meet the expectations and needs of the employer. According to experts, the majority of these accommodations cost less than $500 and may also come with tax advantages to the employer.
For Kate, the first reasonable accommodation was to move her desk to a part of the room that faced away from the flow of coworkers and gave her a view with fewer distractions. She was provided an extra lamp and a magnifying stand so that she could see the very small details of the jewelry pieces and check for flaws or mistakes. Kate was also provided noise-canceling headphones while she worked so that the surrounding noise did not overwhelm her. Other small changes, such as giving her more frequent and shorter breaks, helped to improve her concentration and attention to tasks.
Another secret to success: the job coach
The owner and management of the company were both very welcoming of the temporary job coach (a workplace specialist provided by the employee) to assist in training. A job coach is experienced in analyzing job tasks and knows the individual’s needs in order to make some recommendations that will easily improve the workflow. As soon as all the supports are in place and the individual is working successfully, the job coach will fade out and become a consultant for any future needs.
With these small changes, Kate thrived in her position and became a part-time employee and an integral part of the jewelry team. She made many close friends and brought a lot of joy to all of her coworkers with her sunny personality.
Next steps for transforming your workplace for inclusivity
Friends Life Community is committed to creating opportunities for adults with disabilities to develop socially, grow personally, and enjoy community as they experience life together. Our Inclusive Employment Training helps local businesses discover ways that they can become inclusive employers and broaden the diversity of their teams, giving adults with IDD meaningful opportunities to contribute to the community. To learn more or schedule a training for your team, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Patsy Webb, M.A.Ed.S., C.E.S.P., Service Learning & Employment Specialist
Patsy Webb joined FLC in 2017, and holds a master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Iowa. As a Certified Employment Support Professional, she brings more than 25 years’ experience teaching students, from preschool to high school, with special needs.
For more information on career coaching services or FLC’s Inclusive Employment Training contact Patsy at: