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Workplace Modifications and Accommodations

Making adjustments to jobs for increased productivity and job performance is something that employers do on a regular basis. This is no different for workers with disabilities, yet many businesses fear high costs or legal complications. In fact, employees with disabilities often need very minimal accommodations with an average cost of $600 or less.

Fact : 56% of accommodations cost nothing. (Source: JAN Factsheet "Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact")

Types of Accommodations

Below are examples of broad types of accommodations that could be made for workers with disabilities. This is not an exhaustive list of accommodations since they are individualized for each person's needs. For more precise list of possible accommodations based on disability type, visit the Job Accommodation Network's (JAN) Searchable Online Accommodation Resource (SOAR)
  • Job Restructuring is altering when and/or how a task is performed, or giving certain tasks to other workers that one worker cannot perform because of a disability.
  • Allowing time off (paid or unpaid) if required because of a disability. An employer does not have to provide paid leave beyond what is given to other employees in the same job.
  • A modified or part-time schedule can be a reasonable accommodation by allowing a worker to adjust starting or end times, providing breaks, altering when functions are performed.

Requesting an Accommodation

If an applicant or employee needs an accommodation, then that individual must let an employer know that they need an adjustment or change at work for a reason related to a medical condition.
  • Requests may be in plain language; requests do not need to mention the ADA or use the phrase "reasonable accommodation."
  • Requests don't need to be made in writing.
  • Requests should be acted upon by the employer in a timely manner.


  • Employer may request reasonable documentation of disability and need for accommodation.
  • Documentation is limited to that needed to establish that the individual has a disability that necessitates a reasonable accommodation, not their entire medical record.
  • Documentation should come from an appropriate health care or rehabilitation professional.
More information available from (Enforcement Guidance: Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship Under the Americans with Disabilities Act from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Technical Assistance on Accommodations

JAN (the Job Accommodation Network) provides a wealth of resources for employers and individuals via their website at They also provide training and free consulting services for employers of any size.

Maine CITE Coordinating Center helps Maine people obtain and use the assistive and universally designed technology they need. Assistive technology is equipment or devices that make it easier for people to live more independently, work at a job, study at school or play with friends. It provides services that help someone choose and learn to use the devices best for them.

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