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Definition of Disability

  • The definition of disability in the ADA has three parts. If a person meets at least one of the three parts, they are considered an individual with a disability.
    • Has “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities”
    • Has “a record [or history] of such an impairment
    • Is “regarded as having such an impairment”
  • Please review the FAQ section below for additional information about disability considerations.

The ADA & Employment

  • Under Title I of the ADA, employers are prohibited from discriminating against qualified people with disabilities in all areas of employment.
  • Employers are not permitted to pose any questions related to disability or medical history prior to an employment offer.

What is an accommodation?

  • A reasonable accommodation is any change to a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done that allows an individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform functions, or enjoy equal access to benefits available to other individuals in the workplace.
  • An accommodation does not change the nature of the job itself.


The Accommodation Process 

Before your Apprentice Starts 

Step 0:

  • Be familiar with your organization’s accommodation policy and process (e.g., how does an apprentice submit an accommodation request? Who conducts an assessment of the reasonable accommodation request? What documents need to be completed? How is medical information stored?)
  • The apprentice should have an opportunity to easily request an accommodation during onboarding and at any point during the apprenticeship. The accommodation process should be accessible, and not complicated or antagonistic. 

Respond to Accommodation Requests

Step 1: If your apprentice requests an accommodation, recognize the request right away. Respond via an email or conversation within 10 days of the request.

  • Set up a time to discuss how their disability impacts work.
  • Share information and resources about your organization’s accommodation process. Your apprentice should know the ‘next steps’ to take.

If your apprentice communicates a problem with the workplace and relates it to their disability, treat it as a request for an accommodation.

  • The request for an accommodation does not need to be formal and incorporate any specific words or phrases such as the ADA, reasonable accommodation, etc.

Tips:

  • You do not need documentation of an apprentice’s disability prior to engaging in conversations about potential accommodations (this is known as the interactive process).
  • It is best practice to record the request for accommodation in writing.

Step 2: Gather information about barriers that are preventing your apprentice from performing a job or gaining equal access to employment. Meet with your apprentice to discuss this topic.

Tips:

  • Normalize the request. Engage in a conversation by asking “How are you doing? What do you need that you don’t have? How can you best work right now and how can we support the right setup?”
  • Inform the apprentice of their next step to request an accommodation in your organization.

Step 3: Discuss Accommodation Options

Step 4: Select an accommodation(s)

  • You and the apprentice should work together to decide on an accommodation(s). Ultimately, the employer is responsible for selecting the accommodation. Follow your organization’s accommodation process to ensure the request is received.
  • Inform the apprentice about what accommodation was selected and the timeline for implementation. Document what accommodation was approved or denied.
  • Consider an accommodation ‘trial period’ to allow the apprentice to test various accommodations. If a trial period is implemented, the terms and conditions should be documented in writing.

Step 5: Check in with your apprentice and be ready to iterate.

  • Once the accommodation is implemented, continue to check in with your apprentice to monitor the effectiveness of the accommodation.
  • Remember, selecting a workplace accommodation is an iterative process. You may need to return to step 2: Gather Information.
  • The Apprenti Access team is always a resource to discuss barriers to access and potential accommodations.

Step 0-5: We strongly encourage apprentices and managers to document all communication related to accommodations — the request, desired accommodation, and approval/denial of the request.

FAQ Accommodations: 

An apprentice requested accommodations. Should I request documentation of their disability?

You do not need medical documentation in order to start the interactive process (talking about barriers your apprentice encounters and how it impacts their work). Your organization may require documentation to process the accommodation request, but it is not required by law.

What should I do if an apprentice shares disability related medical information with me?

Medical information must be stored in a file separate from the apprentice’s regular personnel file and kept confidential.

My apprentice shared that their disability impacts their ability to work; however, they do not know what accommodation could be beneficial. I don’t know either. What should I do?

If the apprentice is not sure what accommodation they need, encourage them to contact Apprenti’s Accessibility Team.
Email: accommodations@apprenticareers.org
Phone: (206) 513-7924

My apprentice is working from home and requested accommodation. What should I do?

The assumption often seems that if you’re in your home, you don’t need any adjustments in order to work. However, some apprentices may benefit from Software downloaded onto their computer such as magnification software, improved lighting, a headset, etc.

How much do accommodations cost?

About half of workplace accommodations do not cost anything and those that did had a mean of $500.

Do we need to provide accommodation for work trainings / professional development?

Yes. Employers must provide reasonable accommodation (e.g., sign language interpreters; written materials produced in alternative formats, such as braille, large print, or audio) to provide apprentices with disabilities with an equal opportunity to participate in employer-sponsored training.

Additional Resources 

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