Received an accommodations request? Think twice before turning it down.

Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC
8 min readOct 29, 2020
Two cartoon individuals reviewing individuals digital profiles

Authors note: Because of Medium’s refusal to address its accessibility issues for both authors and readers, I’ve moved my last three years of blogs to Substack. Please sign up there for notices of all new articles. Also, I will be updating older articles (like this one) and the updates will only be published on Substack. Thank you for your continued readership and support.

This is Part 2 of a two-part article. Read Part 1, The Manager’s Practical Guide to Handling an Employee Newly Diagnosed With a Disability here.

What are accommodations?

An “accommodations request” is as simple as an individual communicating the following type of request through ANY channel. The request doesn’t have to be written, though in writing is easier to prove the request was made if there is a dispute later.

“I need X to do Y because Z”

Where X is the requested accommodation;

Y is the task being accommodated

and Z is the reason related to a health condition or disability.

The word “accommodation” does not need to be included in the request. In fact, “accommodation” is a very US-centric term. Other countries use different terms, including modifications and adjustments.

Accommodations that individuals with disabilities can request usually fall into one of the four following categories:

  • Software (Includes but is not limited to things like screen readers, Dragon, automatic captioning)
  • Hardware (Includes but is not limited to things like special keyboards, Braille notetakers, reading pens, and pretty much anything related to ergonomics)
  • Processes, work environment, or schedule modifications
  • Services (such as CART, sign language interpretation, note takers, etc.)

Who gets accommodations requests?

Accommodation requests frequently occur in the following environments:

  • Employers — accommodations requests usually (but not always) start with an individual’s manager. Larger companies sometimes have a…
Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC

LinkedIn Top Voice for Social Impact 2022. UX Collective Author of the Year 2020. Disability Inclusion SME. Sr Staff Accessibility Architect @ VMware.