Job Supports and Accommodations

Common Types of Accommodations

We’ve explored when and how to request a reasonable accommodation, but before you actually talk to your employer about getting an accommodation, let’s look at what types of accommodation exist.

Equipment supplied to the employee is best when it is “universally designed.” That means that its manufacturer made an extra effort to make sure that the equipment is as accessible as possible for people with and without disabilities. For example, adjustable-height desks allow people with different needs to be able to use the same model of desk.

However, it isn’t always possible to buy universally designed equipment. Many types of new technology are designed without considering people with disabilities, making the technology inaccessible. In other situations, even if a product has been universally designed, depending on a person’s disability, they may still need a reasonable accommodation to perform their work.

Here we’ll introduce some of the reasonable accommodation options that can help you do your work.

Assistive Technology

One type of accommodation is called assistive technology (AT). AT includes technology and devices that help people with disabilities do things that would be difficult or impossible for them to do otherwise. There are many types of AT technology and equipment. Here are some examples of AT that could be used as reasonable accommodations:

  • Computer screen-reading software for employees who are blind or have dyslexia
  • Software that raises or lowers computer keyboard sensitivity for people with limited use of their hands
  • Electronic organizers for people with traumatic brain injury or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Assistive listening devices (ALDs) for employees with hearing loss

Trying Out Assistive Technology

The Missouri Assistive Technology Advisory Council has information about AT in Missouri. This project has information and referrals for people about AT. It can help you figure out the answers to questions like:

  • What types of AT might help me?
  • Where can I try out AT?
  • How can I purchase the AT that I need?
  • What types of AT can I rent or borrow?

The Missouri Assistive Technology Advisory Council even lends out some AT and may be able to supply you with free AT. It is a great way to start learning about assistive technology.

If you visit a Missouri Job Center, you can ask about and try out AT. Job Centers are equipped with computer software and AT equipment to help people who are blind, visually impaired, or who have other physical impairments. These services can help you with a range of job-planning activities.

Independent Living Centers are another good resource for learning about and trying out AT. There are Independent Living Centers located throughout Missouri.

Assistive Technology Funding

Usually, your employer will be responsible for paying for and supplying AT services that you need to perform your job or satisfy your job standards. However, sometimes people need or want AT that would be too costly for an employer. Alternatively, some people want to be able to keep their AT if they switch employers, because it is specially designed to fit their needs.

In cases where the employer does not pay for AT, you can explore other options from government resources or private grants.

Here are some funding alternatives for AT:

  • MO HealthNet helps pay medical expenses for people with disabilities, including AT. For AT to be paid for by MO HealthNet, the device must be for a medical condition and be prescribed by a physician.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) can fund AT to help a person with a disability find, get, and keep their employment. You must meet VR eligibility rules to get these services.
  • Workers’ Compensation often pays for AT for people with work-related injuries.
  • Plans to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) are a way for people who get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits (or who would become eligible for SSI by doing a PASS) to save up money without losing benefits. You could use a PASS to save up money to purchase AT.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers funding for AT for veterans with disabilities who are eligible. The Missouri Veterans Commission also helps veterans, reservists and National Guard members to secure employment and may fund AT. You can get help from a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) and from the Disabled Veterans Outreach Program (DVOP), which is located at your local Missouri Job Center.

Resources to Learn More About Assistive Technology

  • Accessible Technology for All has workplace and AT resource guides.
  • Closing the Gap supplies professionals, parents, and consumers with information and training on how best to locate, compare, and introduce AT into the lives of people with disabilities.

Specific Technology Resources

Personal Assistance Services

Personal Assistance Services (PAS) are services that another person offers to a person with a disability that assist with activities of daily living. These services can include help with:

  • Home activities, such as bathing, dressing, cooking, personal hygiene, and remembering things
  • Community activities, such as shopping, going to the doctor, and help getting around
  • Work activities, such as reading, sign-language interpretation, and lifting or reaching

Here we’ll focus on PAS in the workplace.

Workplace Personal Assistance Services

You can use workplace Personal Assistance Services (PAS) to help you perform the essential duties of your job. If you need PAS at your job, the services may be considered a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the employer would have the responsibility to offer PAS to you if you request them.

Examples of Workplace PAS

Here are some forms of workplace PAS that can be used as a reasonable accommodation:

During the Hiring Process

  • A sign-language interpreter during the interview for someone who is deaf
  • A reader for the employment exam for someone who has a visual impairment
  • A personal assistant for someone who has limited use of their arms to fill out an application for employers that require filling out the application on site

During Employment

  • Help with filing duties, getting work materials that are heavy or out of reach, or performing other nonessential manual tasks
  • Assistance with business-related travel for a person with a mobility or visual impairment
  • Reading to people who are blind

Funding for Workplace PAS

Workplace PAS are often funded by an employer when they are considered a reasonable accommodation. Additional funding may also be available from the following sources:

Resources on Workplace PAS

The MO HealthNet Consumer Directed Services (CDS) Program

Most people either pay for Personal Assistance Services (PAS) on their own or with support from the MO HealthNet. If you qualify for MO HealthNet and need PAS, MO HealthNet may pay for PAS through its Consumer Directed Services (CDS) program. While MO HealthNet will pay for the services, the services themselves are not actually administered by MO HealthNet. Instead, CDS services are operated by local Independent Living Centers.

To get PAS through the CDS program, you need to check if you are eligible with an Independent Living Center. If they decide that you are eligible, you can get PAS administered by that Independent Living Center and funded by MO HealthNet.

MO HealthNet does not offer PAS at work as a substitute for a reasonable accommodation that should be supplied by the employer. However, depending on a person’s disability, the employer may consider it a reasonable accommodation to allow your personal care assistant to come to the workplace to give assistance for personal needs that are not related to job duties, such as help with lunch preparation and personal hygiene.

Learn more about getting MO HealthNet coverage in DB101's How Health Benefits Work article.

Learn more