Reasonable Accommodation Procedures

Introduction

Sections 501 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 require federal agencies to provide reasonable accommodation to employees and applicants for employment who have disabilities, unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship. Executive Order 13164 requires federal agencies to establish effective written procedures for handling reasonable accommodation requests by employees and applicants for employment. The Access Board is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to its employees and applicants for employment and has adopted these procedures to ensure that reasonable accommodation requests are handled promptly and fairly.

Employees and Applicants

In this section, the word "you" refers to employees and applicants for employment. This section tells you how to request a reasonable accommodation and how your request will be handled. This section also discusses medical information, reassignment, and your rights if your reasonable accommodation request is denied. Reasonable accommodation and other key terms are defined at the end of this document.

Requesting reasonable accommodation...

  • As a person with a disability, you have the right to request a reasonable accommodation in order to be considered for a position, to perform the essential functions of a position, and to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment with the Access Board. You may request a reasonable accommodation at any time, and may request additional reasonable accommodations if your needs change.
  • You may request a reasonable accommodation orally or in writing from your supervisor or, if you are applying for a position, from the contact person identified on the vacancy announcement, who is called the "hiring coordinator" in this document. You do not have to use any special words such as "reasonable accommodation" or "Rehabilitation Act" when making your request. However, it is helpful for you to describe your needs as specifically as possible. The more information you give your supervisor or the hiring coordinator, the better he or she will be able to meet your needs.
  • Your supervisor or the hiring coordinator usually will have the authority to approve reasonable accommodation requests. Accommodations that require the purchase of equipment or services costing more than $1000, reconfiguring work spaces, or reassignment, and accommodations that cannot be provided by current staff will be approved by the Executive Director.
  • Your supervisor or the hiring coordinator will discuss your reasonable accommodation request with you. Where the need for an accommodation is unclear, your supervisor or the hiring coordinator will ask you for additional information. Where the specific accommodation needed is unclear, your supervisor or the hiring coordinator will call on expert resources to recommend possible accommodations. Where different possible accommodations are being considered, your supervisor or the hiring coordinator will discuss the effectiveness of the different accommodations with you.
  • Your supervisor or the hiring coordinator will respond to your reasonable accommodation request as soon as possible, but no later than three business days from when your request was made, unless medical information is required. Medical information is further discussed below.
  • If your reasonable accommodation request is approved, the accommodation will be provided as soon as possible, but no later than five business days from when you made the request, unless expert resources need to be called on to recommend possible accommodations, equipment needs to be purchased, the work space needs to be reconfigured, new staff needs to be hired, or other extenuating circumstances apply. If additional time is required to provide an accommodation, you will be notified of the expected date that the accommodation will be provided, and your supervisor or the hiring coordinator will discuss with you whether there are any temporary measures that can assist you.

If medical information is necessary...

  • In certain instances, when the nature of a disability or the need for a reasonable accommodation is not clear, your supervisor or the hiring coordinator may request you to provide medical information about your functional impairment and your need for a reasonable accommodation in order to evaluate your request. The medical information may be reviewed by a medical expert selected by the Access Board. If the medical information does not clearly support the requested accommodation, your supervisor or the hiring coordinator may request relevant supplemental medical information. You have a responsibility to provide appropriate medical information when requested. Failure to provide appropriate medical information can result in the denial of your reasonable accommodation request.
  • If medical information is requested, your supervisor or the hiring coordinator will respond to your reasonable accommodation request within three business days after the initial or supplemental medical information is received, whichever is later. If your reasonable accommodation request is approved, the accommodation will be provided within five business days after the initial or supplemental medical information is received, whichever is later, unless extenuating circumstances described above apply.
  • Medical information obtained in connection with a reasonable accommodation request will be placed in a file separate from your personnel file or job application, and will be kept confidential in accordance with the Privacy Act and 36 C.F. R. 1121. Medical information will be disclosed only to persons described at the top of page 5.

If you need to be reassigned...

  • Reassignment is a type of reasonable accommodation available to an employee who can no longer perform the essential functions of his or her current position, with or without reasonable accommodation. If there is a vacant position that you are qualified for, and you can perform the essential functions of the vacant position, with or without reasonable accommodation, you will be reassigned to the vacant position as a reasonable accommodation without having to compete for the position.

If your reasonable accommodation request is denied...

  • If your reasonable accommodation request is denied, you will receive a written notice explaining the specific reasons for the denial and your appeal rights.
  • You can ask the Executive Director to assign an impartial mediator from outside the agency to assist in resolving the matter informally. Requesting mediation is voluntary on your part. If you are not satisfied with the mediation process, you can file an equal employment opportunity (EEO) complaint.
  • To initiate an EEO complaint, you must contact an EEO counselor within 45 days of receipt of the written notice denying your reasonable accommodation request. If you request mediation, you must still contact an EEO counselor within 45 day of receiving the denial notice. To arrange contact with an EEO counselor, contact Lisa Fairhall, Deputy General Counsel, U.S. Access Board, at (202) 272-0046 (v), (202) 272-0064 (TTY), or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Supervisors and Hiring Coordinator

In this section, the word "you" refers to supervisors and the hiring coordinator. This section tells you how to handle reasonable accommodation requests. This section also discusses medical information, reassignment, denial of reasonable accommodation requests, and record keeping.

Responding to reasonable accommodation requests

  • You have the authority to approve reasonable accommodation requests, unless the accommodation requires the purchase of equipment or services costing more than $1000, reconfiguring work spaces, or reassignment, or the accommodation cannot be provided by current staff. When you do not have authority to approve an accommodation, you will forward the request along with any recommendation to the Executive Director.
  • You will discuss reasonable accommodation requests with the employee or applicant. Where the need for an accommodation is unclear, you will ask the employee or applicant for additional information. Where the specific accommodation needed is unclear, you will call on expert resources to recommend possible accommodations. Where different possible accommodations are being considered, you will discuss the effectiveness of the different accommodations with the employee or applicant.
  • You will respond to reasonable accommodation requests as soon as possible, but no later than three business days after the request is made, unless medical information is required. Medical information is further discussed below.
  • If you approve a reasonable accommodation request, the accommodation will be provided as soon as possible, but no later than five business days after the request is made, unless expert resources need to be called on to recommend possible accommodations, equipment needs to be purchased, the work space needs to be reconfigured, new staff needs to be hired, or other extenuating circumstances apply. If additional time is required to provide an accommodation, you will notify the employee or applicant of the expected date that the accommodation will be provided, and will discuss with the employee or applicant whether there are any temporary measures that can assist him or her.

If medical information is necessary ...

  • If the nature of a disability or the need for a reasonable accommodation is not clear, you may request the employee or applicant to provide medical information about his or her functional impairment and need for a reasonable accommodation in order to evaluate the request. You may request a medical expert selected by the Access Board to review the information. If the medical information does not clearly support the requested accommodation, you may request the employee or applicant to provide relevant supplemental medical information.
  • If medical information is requested, you will respond to a reasonable accommodation request within three business days after the initial or supplemental medical information is received, whichever is later. If you approve a reasonable accommodation request, the accommodation will be provided within five business days after the initial or supplemental medical information is received, whichever is later, unless extenuating circumstances described above apply.
  • You will place medical information obtained in connection with a reasonable accommodation request in a file separate from the employee ’s personnel file or applicant’s job application, and will keep the information confidential in accordance with the Privacy Act and 36 C.F. R. 1121.
  • You will disclose medical information only to: (1) agency officials who participate in making decisions on reasonable accommodation requests; (2) supervisors and managers who need to know about necessary restrictions on the work or duties of the employee or about the necessary accommodations; (3) first aid and safety personnel if the disability might require emergency treatment; (4) government officials when necessary to investigate the agency’s compliance with the Rehabilitation Act; (5) workmen’s compensation offices or insurance carriers where permitted by 29 C.F.R. §1630.14(b) and §1630.16(f); and (6) agency officials to report on the agency’s performance in handling reasonable accommodation requests. When medical information is disclosed to any of these officials, you will inform them about the confidentiality requirements that attach to the information.

If an employee needs reassignment...

  • Reassignment is a type of reasonable accommodation available to an employee who can no longer perform the essential functions of his or her current position, with or without reasonable accommodation. If there is a vacant position that the employee is qualified for, and the employee can perform the essential functions of the vacant position, with or without reasonable accommodation, the employee will be reassigned to the vacant position as a reasonable accommodation without having to compete for the position. If an employee needs reassignment as a reasonable accommodation and you have the authority to select individuals for the vacant position, you will reassign the employee to the vacant position. If you do not have authority to select individuals for the vacant position, you will notify the Executive Director that the employee needs reassignment, and the Executive Director will reassign the employee.

If you deny a reasonable accommodation request ...

  • If you decide to deny a reasonable accommodation request, you will review the specific reasons with the Executive Director. If the Executive Director agrees with the action, you will give the employee or applicant a written notice explaining the specific reasons for the denial and his or her appeal rights.

Record keeping...

  • You will keep a record of all reasonable accommodation requests that you receive, including oral requests. The record will include the date the request was made, the position, the type of accommodation requested, the action taken on the request, and the date the accommodation was provided. Records for an individual employee will be maintained for the duration of the individual’s employment. Records tracking agency performance will be kept for three years. 

Definitions

Reasonable Accommodation: Any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that would enable a qualified individual with a disability to be considered for a position, to perform the essential functions of a position, and to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.

Qualified Individual with a Disability: An individual with a disability is qualified if he or she satisfies the skills, experience, and other job-related requirements for a position; and can perform the essential functions of the position, with or without reasonable accommodation.

Essential Functions:Those job duties that are so fundamental to the position that the individual cannot do the job without being able to performing them. A function is essential if the position exists specifically to perform that function; there are a limited number of other employees who can perform the function; or the function is specialized and the individual is hired based on his or her ability to perform the function.

Undue hardship:An action requiring significant difficulty or expense. Undue hardship is determined on a case-by-care basis, considering the nature and cost of the reasonable accommodation needed and the impact of the reasonable accommodation on the operations of the agency. 

Dissemination

These procedures will be made available on the Access Board’s intranet and internet site, and copies will be provided in alternative formats upon request.