If need to use a wheelchair, your employer must offer reasonable accommodations. Depending on where you work, and your job duties, using a wheelchair in your place of work can be challenging.
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted to protect disabled people from being mistreated in the workplace and in having access to public buildings.
As an example, if the doorways are not wide enough, the wheelchair may be difficult to maneuver in and out of the office, or into other offices, workrooms or work areas.
It could be difficult to move from one floor to another, and there could be a lack of ramps and elevators to accommodate you and others who must use wheelchairs to get around.
Your workstation may need to be revamped to accommodate your wheelchair. It may be designed with a space for a worker who is standing or sitting.
A wheelchair will take up more room, and you still need to be able to reach and access the materials and tools that you need to get the job done.
You should talk with your employer about your situation and explain how you need to be accommodated and how those accommodations could help you through the workday.
Examples Of Reasonable Accommodations
Of course, reasonable accommodations vary from one employer to the next. The size of the workplace as well as the number of employees and annual earnings come into play.
Some companies can afford more expensive and more detailed accommodations than others. It would be reasonable to ask for accommodations to make getting around your workplace more manageable and easier to navigate.
You may ask for adjusted height on the desk, wider doorways and entrances, an elevator, a ramp, or shelving that is lower so the tools and equipment that you need to access are easily attainable and you can reach them.
You should be willing to sit down with a manager or a human resources representative to discuss your needs and to let them determine the best way to come up with a solution.
You should express your concerns, and if any accommodations don’t work or are not helpful to your situation, then be sure to let them know. You may want to offer alternative solutions or suggestions so your needs can be properly addressed.
Sometimes you may have to come up with affordable and creative solutions that work so you can get your job done.
An elevator may be out of financial reach for many small employers, but they may be able to build a small ramp that will accommodate your wheelchair. While redoing all the doorways in the business could be out of budget, just redoing the doorways to the areas that you frequent could be affordable.
Often, you will find that when there is a will there is a way. Be sure to go over the situation and all the details with your attorney so you can determine the best way to proceed with your claim for failure to comply with the ADA.
As previously mentioned, not all employers can provide the same solutions that others are capable of offering. They are limited by finances and by the time.
What is considered reasonable is subjective, so you may have to get creative when coming up with a reasonable solution and accommodation to your specific situation.
Measurements of your wheelchair may be needed, and specific details about how far you can reach and how you can maneuver your work area while in the wheelchair are going to be necessary for an overall assessment to be completed and for them to determine how they can best accommodate you and what they can provide as reasonable accommodations.
Speak With An Attorney
If you are disabled and you believe that your employer is denying your request for reasonable accommodations, you should speak with an employment law attorney who is familiar with the ADA and the obligations of employers.
They will be able to determine if you are not being accommodated in the way that you should be, or if the employer is fulfilling their obligations based on the specific situation and their finances and time.
Some employment law attorneys don’t require any upfront payment, so be sure to ask about those details when you are enlisting the help of a lawyer.