It is incumbent upon the employee with a disability to know his/her rights and responsibilities in the work place so that the most effective accommodation is implemented. Knowing your rights involves advocating, which sometimes can be easy and sometimes not -- there are effective strategies. Here are some tips and techniques to help get the ITY in the workplace.
Be specific about the accommodation!
An employer is responsible to provide reasonable accommodations, including effective communication. Be specific about which device works best for you. If ITY can provide effective communication in the workplace, give your employer specific reasons why this type of communication technology will work. You can use language such as:
- ITY provides an equal employment opportunity to participate in training, privileges and/or benefits.
- ITY can help me meet my essential functions of the job by _________________________ (fill in the blank).
- ITY enables me to participate in all aspects of my job, including meetings, one-on-one conversations and group discussions. Because the ITY is so versatile and can accommodate many situations, it can significantly defray the cost of interpreters.
- Requesting an accommodation letter
- Job Accommodation Network document on Effective Accommodation for Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Use a time line
Reasonable accommodations are to be implemented in a timely manner. This is good for both the employer and employee so that the essential functions of the job are met. You should keep a timeline starting with the request of your accommodation until the accommodation is provided. ITY is able to turn around a request in 10 days. As soon as you know that there is an agreement on purchasing an ITY, have your employer contact us.
The importance of effective communication -- bring it home!
You need to strongly advocate to your employer that being able to communicate with all work personnel and situations are essential. When there is good communication throughout the organization, there is better productivity. Depending on the type of job you have, bring home the importance of effective communication. It is your right!
Here is some language from EEOC that defines effective communication.
"Communication on the job may be handled through different means, depending on the situation, such as written notes, "signing" by other employees who have received basic sign language training, or by typing on a computer or typewriter."
(Reference: EEOC Technical Assistance Manual)
How to respond to your employer when they say, 'we can't afford it'
- State to your employer that this type of investment (purchase of an ITY) will result in higher productivity and help you meet your essential functions.
- Did you know there is financial assistance (this link goes to the Employer funding page) for an ITY?
- Is purchasing an ITY a true undue hardship? There are many factors that go into undue hardship, including cost. If you feel you are being discriminated against, you can contact EEOC, www.eeoc.gov.