Alternative formats such as braille and large print are examples of reasonable and low cost accommodations.
People with disabilities do not have an equal right to participate if they are individually left to overcome physical barriers and historical ways of doing things that exclude them. The wheelchair user’s right to enter a building or use a bus that only has stairs is an empty right. The right of a person who is deaf to attend a good university is meaningless if she is not given access to the content of the classes through a sign language interpreter.
As a result, disability rights laws cannot solely grant people with disabilities the right to be treated exactly the same as everyone else. The term “reasonable accommodation” was coined to designate the various kinds of modifications that may need to be made so that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as people without disabilities to live full lives in their communities.
While reasonable accommodations can require an initial investment, in most cases the amount is relatively small. When you think of strengthening communities and improving the lives of community members, the investment to provide reasonable accommodations is economically advantageous because it will allow the population of people with disabilities to be active members of society by obtaining an education, contributing to the workforce, and become contributing members of society as a whole.
Examples of reasonable accommodations include:
- Raising a workplace desk so it is accessible for a wheelchair user
- Providing assistive technology or alternative formats for people with visual disabilities
- Ensuring extra time or quiet spaces for people with learning, psychiatric or attention disabilities
- Having a flexible work schedule for someone with a chronic health condition who needs more breaks or has a medication schedule that makes it difficult to rise early
- Providing a scribe to take notes for someone with a visual or intellectual disability
- Providing a sign language interpreter and captions for people with hearing disabilities