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How does the law define reasonable accommodation?

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Q:

How does the law define reasonable accommodation?

A:

Many people take their regular, everyday activities for granted. They can go to work or school and then come home to a comfortable house without being imposed upon or compromised in any way. However, people who are disabled or have different boundaries in life often need special considerations to allow them to live and enjoy their everyday lives normally.

As such, people who believe that they require such assistance can benefit by knowing how the legal system defines reasonable accommodation and to what standards their school, workplace or landlord may have to comply.

Modifications to Work or School Schedules

People who have certain disabilities or are restricted from normal participation because of religious guidelines may be entitled to schedule modifications. Reasonable accommodation could be in order for these individuals because of their inability to work or go to school as a result of their limitations.

For example, a person who is legally blind and cannot see well past dark may be entitled to a daytime work schedule. Similarly, if a student has a physical condition that prevents them from sitting at a desk or being confined to the classroom all day, that student may be allowed to attend school for half of the day.

Reasonable accommodation could also apply to people whose religious beliefs prevent them from working a regular schedule. People who must pray several times a day or avoid working on a certain day of the week in order to stay compliant with their religion may be allowed reasonable accommodation in adjusting their work schedules.

Housing Modifications

The Americans with Disabilities Act provides reasonable accommodation for people with physical or mental disabilities. A person who uses a wheelchair, for example, may be entitled to a ground-level apartment or a ramp leading into their house in order to accommodate that person’s physical limitations.

Likewise, a person who suffers from a mental or emotional disorder could be allowed housing that prevents that person from suffering anxiety triggers, depression or other distresses. Landlords are required, by law, to accommodate tenants who have documented disabilities.

Exclusions to Reasonable Accommodation

Despite being entitled to certain accommodations, people with disabilities, religious boundaries and other considerations are restricted in some of the requests that they can make of teachers, landlords, employers and others.

For example, if their accommodation puts undue financial hardship on the person's school or employer, these individuals could be denied their requests. In addition, if their accommodations put others in danger or could be viewed as threats, these individuals may not be entitled to the accommodations they request.

As such, disagreements could arise when it comes to defining what is and what isn't reasonable accommodation. People who believe that they need changes made to their routines could be denied by landlords, teachers and employers who believe that the changes are unnecessary. If such disagreements exist, both parties could benefit by hiring a lawyer to advocate and negotiate for them. Lawyers can help people realize whether a situation calls for such accommodations or if other compromises can be reached.

When people cannot live or work in a regular fashion because of a physical or mental disability, religious restrictions, or other limitations, they may be entitled to reasonable accommodation. Knowing how the legal system defines this action and when to hire legal counsel can help people enjoy their lives better.

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