Logo of the Job Accommodation Network (JAN)If you’re a person with a disability who’s looking for work, it’s important to think about what kind of job accommodations can work for you. In celebration of Telecommuter Appreciation Week, Tracie DeFreitas of the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) shares why working from home can help people with disabilities find or return to work.

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Choosing Telework

Feb 27, 2017

By Guest Blogger Tracie DeFreitas of the Job Accommodation Network

February 27 to March 5 is Telecommuter Appreciation Week. Not long ago, telecommuting – or working from home – was seen as a perk, special treatment, or a benefit available only to those in management. Now, telecommuting offers employers the chance to enhance productivity while meeting the changing needs of a diverse workforce.

Alternative work arrangements, like telework, can expand options and employment opportunities for many workers, but particularly for people with disabilities. Some people may have medical limitations that prevent them from commuting to work or performing job duties at a traditional worksite. Working from home offers the opportunity to choose how, when and where to best perform work.

Telework as an Accommodation

In some organizations, working from home is a common option for all employees. Even when it’s not, employees with disabilities can request telework as an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is a federal law that provides civil rights protections for people with disabilities. It also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for qualified employees to perform essential job duties.

Logo of the Job Accommodation Network (JAN)Consultants for the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) commonly suggest telework as an accommodation solution to address a variety of medical impairments, limitations and work-related barriers. Working from home can help people with disabilities succeed in employment when limitations affect their ability to work.

Choosing telework as an accommodation requires a collaborative discussion with your employer. It’s useful to begin the conversation knowing some of the factors that will determine if telework is possible. Consider the following questions and concerns:

  • First, think about the work you do and identify the essential job functions to determine if any or all tasks can be performed remotely and to what extent (i.e., as needed, part-time, etc.). Not all jobs can be performed outside of the traditional workplace, but many can.
  • Next, consider the tools or equipment needed to perform the required tasks. For example, do you need a computer? What about internet access, telephone, a printer, etc.? Is there workspace in your home and can you use the required tools in that space? If a specific machine or equipment is needed, can you access or use it outside of the on-site work location?
  • Consider if the position requires immediate access to documents or other resources located in the workplace. How will you access these resources?
  • Employers are often concerned about a lack of supervision for people working at home. How will the employer measure performance? What will the employee accomplish each day? What supervisory methods will work for you and your employer?
  • Finally, does the work require face-to-face interaction with other employees, clients or customers? Can you communicate with them in a different way?

About the Guest Blogger

Tracie DeFreitas is a Lead Consultant and ADA Specialist for JAN. She provides expert disability-related federal employment law and workplace accommodation consultation on a broad range of medical impairments and ADA issues. Tracie is an experienced national speaker and author who specializes in ADA Title I compliance and the interactive accommodation process.

Telework may be right for people with various medical impairments and in a number of disability employment-related situations. Working from home can address many work-related barriers, including:

  • Difficulty commuting to and from work
  • Limited access to parking
  • Inflexible workplace policies
  • Rigid work schedules
  • Accessibility and environmental issues
  • Lack of privacy or onsite support for personal medical needs like taking medication or using the restroom

Contact JAN to learn more about how to request and negotiate this type of accommodation to succeed in the workplace.

Additional Resources

About Ticket to Work

Social Security’s Ticket to Work program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work.
The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.

Learn More

To learn more about the Ticket program, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/work. You can also call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 (Voice) or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

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