People with Disabilities - Accommodation Vs. Inclusion
Author: Thomas C. Weiss
Contact : Disabled World
Published: 2013-05-16 - (Updated: 2019-01-12)
The duty to provide reasonable accommodations is a fundamental statutory requirement due to the nature of discrimination people with disabilities face.
The concepts of Accommodation and Inclusion are difficult for some people to tell the difference between, as expressed by some of the people who are even close to those of us who experience forms of disabilities. When I asked a person I know what the difference was between these two things, they looked at me and said they really didn't get it. After all, wasn't accommodation of the needs of people who experience forms of disabilities including them? Let's begin with a description of what it means to accommodate people with disabilities.
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified people with disabilities who are applicants or employees unless doing so would cause the employer, 'undue hardship (yikes - another article).' In general, accommodations are any changes in a work environment or the way things are customarily done that enable people with disabilities to enjoy equal employment opportunities. There are three categories considered to be, 'reasonable accommodations':
- Modifications or adjustments to a job application process that enables qualified applicants with disabilities to be considered for positions they desire
- Modifications or adjustments that enable a covered entity's employees with disabilities to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by its other, similarly situated employees without disabilities
- Modifications or adjustments to the work environment or to the manner or circumstances under which the position held or desired is customarily performed that enable qualified people with disabilities to perform the essential functions of the position
The duty to provide reasonable accommodations is a fundamental statutory requirement due to the nature of discrimination people with disabilities face. While many people with disabilities may apply for and perform jobs without any reasonable accommodations, there are workplace barriers that prevent others from performing jobs they could do with some form of accommodation. The barriers might be physical ones such as facilities or equipment that are not accessible, or may involve rules or procedures such as rules concerning when work is performed, when breaks are taken, or how essential or marginal functions are performed. Reasonable accommodations remove workplace barriers for people with disabilities.
Reasonable accommodations are available to applicants and employees with disabilities who are qualified. Reasonable accommodations have to be provided to them whether they work full or part-time, or are considered to be, 'probationary.' In general - the person with a disability must inform their employer that an accommodation is needed.
A number of potential reasonable accommodations an employer might have to provide in relation with modifications to a work environment, or adjustments in how and when a job is performed exist such as:
- Job restructuring
- Modifying or acquiring equipment
- Reassignment to a vacant position
- Making an existing facility accessible
- Part-time or modified work schedules
- Providing qualified interpreters or readers
- Changing training schedules, tests, or policies
An adjustment or modification is deemed to be, 'reasonable,' if it, 'seems on its face, ie,. Ordinarily or in the run of cases,' meaning it is, 'reasonable,' if it appears to be either, 'plausible,' or, 'feasible.' An accommodation also has to be effective in meeting the needs of the person with a disability. In the context of job performance, this means that a reasonable accommodation enables the person to perform the essential functions of their position.
Similarly, a reasonable accommodation enables a person with a disability who is applying for a job to have equal opportunity to participate in the process of applying and to be considered for a job. A reasonable accommodation also allows an employee with a disability equal opportunity to enjoy the privileges and benefits of employment that employees without disabilities do.
Accommodating a person while they are at work, applying for a job, while they are at school, or ensuring that people with disabilities have access to public buildings or transportation is not the same as including them in society at large. The reason for this is because including people who experience forms of disabilities in society at large is something that cannot be legislated. Why not
Inclusion - Another Thing Entirely
Inclusion of people with disabilities in society means involving them in every aspect of social participation others enjoy. Inclusion is something that must come from a desire to include them in the activities of the community, family, friendships and more and therefore must come from the actual desire to spend time with and interact with them. Including people with disabilities is something that you cannot legislate into the hearts and minds of people, it is something that people must want.
While people with disabilities account for between ten and fifteen percent of the population of the world, the World Health Organization states they account for twenty percent of the population living in ultra-poverty. A very poor family including a member who experiences a form of disability faces incredible economic challenges involving access to services, support, and education. Many times, caring for a family member with a disability may require time and support from a person who would otherwise be earning income.
'Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.' - Nelson Mandela
In addition, people with disabilities are often socially isolated and face stigma within their very own communities, something that compounds the challenges of the poverty they experience on top of disability. Providing people with disabilities with opportunities to build sustainable livelihoods supports households while assisting to break down prejudices and build social connections. Inclusion of people with disabilities must come from the hearts and minds of everyone in a society.
Inclusion is a part of a far larger picture than simply placing people with disabilities in jobs or classrooms with non-disabled persons. It is being included in life and participating using their abilities in daily activities as members of their own communities. Inclusion is being a part of what everyone else is, despite ability, and being welcomed and embraced as a member of the community who belongs. It is being a part of the events in life others pursue through schools, jobs, churches, recreation, and more.
'Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.' - Bruce Lee
People; whether they experience a form of disability or not, have basic needs that must be met in order for them to feel fulfilled. While food, clothing, water, shelter, and health care are needed for people to exist, it is also easy to understand that when a person does not eat right or exercise it can adversely affect their health and capacity to function in other areas of their life. Having purpose and meaning to what a person does and who they are provides inspiration.
Feeling useless, or doing things that are meaningless, decreases motivation and self-esteem.
A sense of being loved, belonging, having relationships and friendships with others enriches a person's life. Feelings of alienation and loneliness can have a negative impact in every area of a person's life. Education helps to meet the need to learn and grow and not remain stagnant, yet as with any of a person's needs - if we focus on one at the expense of the others, it does not maximize the overall quality of life. When all of a person's needs are met in an integrated way, each of the areas adds strength in their ability to achieve fulfillment in other areas. Inclusion is all about meeting every one of those needs and maximizing a person's overall quality of life.
- 1 - Conquer Paralysis Now Challenge : $20M in Grants and Prizes : Conquer Paralysis Now (CPN) (2014/12/05)
- 2 - Overcriminalization of People with Disabilities Must Be Addressed in Criminal Justice Reform : Center for American Progress (2016/07/19)
- 3 - How Prison Solitary Confinement Harms People with Physical Disabilities : American Civil Liberties Union (2017/01/13)
- 4 - Usher Syndrome: Types, Causes and Treatment Options : Thomas C. Weiss (2015/09/18)
- 5 - Disability ID Cards: How and Where to Obtain One : Disabled World (2019/05/21)
- 6 - Nazis, Sterilization and Deaths of People with Disabilities : Thomas C. Weiss (2015/09/11)
- 7 - Focus on Your Abilities - Not Disabilities : Sandi Baker (2008/12/23)