Hiring people costs money. Training employees’ costs even more money. Accommodations help you retain valuable talent and allow employees to do their jobs well.

An accommodation:

  • Is a change to a job, the work environment, or to the way tasks are done.
  • Enables employees with disabilities to perform the main functions of a job, and be productive in the workplace.

As an employer, you do not need to make the exact accommodation that your employee requests, but you do need to make a reasonable accommodation. A collaborative and positive approach will provide the best results.

Accommodating workers with disabilities may mean treating employees differently in order to be equitable. Fair does not always mean treating people the same.

You accommodate staff every day. Accommodations help your personnel succeed.

Cost of accommodations

Workplace accommodations are made for employees every day. However, the word “accommodation” is unfairly associated with added costs, inconvenience, or expensive changes to the physical environment. Most accommodations involve no cost.


  • Are often related to a flexible approach, such as a late start time or more frequent breaks.
  • Can be assistive technologies and devices such as software (i.e., captions).
  • Can be services such as administrative help.
  • Include changes to work processes or procedures.

Accommodations not only benefit employees with a disability but lead to overall higher productivity, reduced safety risks, and more positive work environments for all employees.

How to accommodate

Create a clear procedure for accommodations. Write it down, so that everyone clearly understands what is needed and what has been agreed to. Consider:

  • How to make this a constructive discussion between the person with a disability, the company, and any third parties (i.e., medical or insurance representatives)?
  • Who will be responsible for making decisions? The advantage of having one person responsible for accommodations is that they can build expertise and ensure that requests are dealt with in a consistent manner.
  • How will agreements be documented? Don’t over-complicate it, but record it.
  • Are there common and simple accommodations that you can pre-approve? This might include providing an ergonomic chair, or a headset. Write these down.
  • How confidentiality be maintained?

It is unlikely that two individuals will require an identical accommodation. Be flexible. Each person is unique and how they experience their disability is unique. 

Examples of accommodations

Accommodations are simply adjustments to the work environment, tasks, or processes to allow employees to do their job. They often result in increased productivity across your company.

Changes to the WorkplaceChanges to ProcessesChanges to TasksTools and Technologies
Built Environment. Examples: entrances with ramps and automatic doors, accessible parking, accessible washrooms
Work environment. Examples: desk and filing cabinet height, ergonomic chairs, lighting levels, glare, office location
Safety Protocols. Examples: Emergency Exit Plans
Time Management. Examples: calendars, reminders, project plans
Flexible Hours. Examples: breaks, variation
Training processes. Examples: longer training period, disability awareness
Communication processes. Examples: simplified language, large text, verbal vs written instruction, use of diagrams, charts, repetition
Stress reduction.
Re-define job descriptions
Job carving
Assistive Technologies. Examples: noise-canceling headphones, large screens, screen magnifiers, software, colour contrast, specialist keyboards, etc.
Checklists, reminders, calendars
Type of AccommodationExampleCost
Mobility: an employee with a mobility disability finds it difficult to commute during rush hour.The employee can arrive at work an hour early and leave an hour early.$0
Site: a worker with anxiety gets overwhelmed in crowded areas.Relocate desk to a more spacious, quiet area.$0
Assistive Device: an employee with a learning disability has trouble remembering oral instructions.Create checklists outlining each step of daily tasks. Provide a white board to record new tasks.$20
Ergonomic: a staff member with chronic pain must sit for long periods of time.Purchase an ergonomic chair.$350
Assistive Hardware: An employee works with customers has difficulty communicating due to hearing loss.Provide a headset and an amplifier.$500

As a business, there is some funding available to assist employers who want to hire people with disabilities but require assistance with training, assistive devices, or accommodations.

Assistive technologies

Type of AccommodationExample of Assistive Device or Technology
Mobility Aids
  • Wider hallway
  • Door ramp
  • Reachers
Physical Aids
  • Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition
  • Modified keyboards and mouse
Sensory Aids
  • Large print
  • Portable electronic magnifier
  • Video magnifier
  • Magnifying glass
Communication Aids
  • Manual signs
  • Graphic symbols
  • Closed captions
  • Gelephone typewriter (TTY)
  • Voice output communication aids
  • Sign language interpreter
    Assistive Technologies
    • Digital text-to-speech reading tool
    • TextHelp Read & Write

    Join the movement.  Find and keep the best talent. Build a culture that is inclusive of disability. 

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