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How COVID-19 Propelled Workplace Accommodations for People with Disabilities

July 5, 2024
Source: Kessler Foundation

Celebrating the 34th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Blog Written by Diana Jordan, Assistant Digital Media Editor, Kessler Foundation

Over the years, employers have made significant strides in creating a more inclusive work environment by offering enhanced accommodations and tools specifically designed to empower individuals with disabilities. This trend is largely the result of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), which was signed on July 26, 1990, 34 years ago.

The ADA protects the right of individuals with disabilities to receive accommodations in the workplace. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “a reasonable accommodation is any change to the application or hiring process, to the job, to the way the job is done, or the work environment that allows a person with a disability who is qualified for the job to perform the essential functions of that job and enjoy equal employment opportunities.” These modifications enable individuals with disabilities to have an equal opportunity not only to get a job, but successfully perform their job tasks to the same extent as people without disabilities.

Last year, Kessler Foundation, in partnership with the University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability, released a survey revealing gains in recruiting, hiring, accommodating, and retaining employees with disabilities. The survey, titled 2022 National Employment & Disability Survey: Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on Supervisor Perspectives, compares data collected in the 2017 survey of the same name.

Current survey results show the use of flexible work arrangements more than doubled from 2017, with most supervisors predicting that work-from-home options would continue post-pandemic. In addition, twice as many supervisors work for organizations with a central accommodation fund, which they view as important to the success of people with disabilities in the workplace.

“Today, more companies are increasing the use of disability related employment practices due to the employee shortage and increased work-from-home trend brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said John O’Neill, PhD, director of the Center for Employment and Disability Research at Kessler Foundation, and co-author of both surveys. “We also see more employers adopting training on disability issues and cultural competence and reaching out to government and local resources regarding the provision of accommodations.”

Celebrate the anniversary of the ADA by sharing these hashtags: #ThanksToTheADA! #ADA #ADA34.

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