Employment Law Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law and HR

Nov 06, 2014

Is your workplace technology accessible to people with disabilities?

Disability 

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced a new initiative promoting the employment, retention, and career advancement of people with disabilities through the development, adoption, and promotion of accessible technology.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced a new initiative promoting the employment, retention, and career advancement of people with disabilities through the development, adoption, and promotion of accessible technology. The Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) has developed a website dedicated to providing employers, technology users, and technology providers simple information about making technology accessible. Check it out at www.peatworks.org.

Another great resource is the federally funded Job Accommodation Network (JAN), which offers an extensive database of solutions for common physical and mental impairments. Even more helpful, for a reasonable fee the JAN staff will evaluate the accessibility of your website, and point out barriers that you may never have noticed on your own. This review can be especially helpful if you accept online applications. Federal contractors with affirmative action obligations should be especially mindful of their obligation to ensure that their application process is fully accessible to applicants with disabilities.

Need just a simple place to start? Make sure your job advertisements offer at least two avenues for individuals to request an accommodation in the hiring process, such as an email address and phone number. For employees, communicate to everyone that if a medical issue is interfering with their ability to do their jobs, they can request a reasonable accommodation. Technically, you’re only obligated to accommodate conditions that are disabilities under state law or the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but some employers choose to go beyond that and consider all requests, with the idea that if it enhances workplace productivity or prevents repetitive motion injuries, then it’s worth looking at.

For more help on this issue and other complex employment issues, contact us.

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