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The ADA & Your Workforce Center. An ADA Case Study DBTAC: Rocky Mountain ADA Center 800/949-4232 (V, TTY) Jana Copeland Disclaimer.

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The ada your workforce center

The ADA & Your Workforce Center

An ADA Case Study

DBTAC: Rocky Mountain ADA Center

800/949-4232 (V, TTY)

Jana Copeland


  • Information, materials, and/or technical assistance are intended solely as informal guidance, and are neither a determination of your legal rights or responsibilities under the ADA, nor binding on any agency with enforcement responsibility under the ADA.

  • DBTAC authorized by NIDRR to provide information, materials, and technical assistance to individuals and entities that are covered by the ADA.

Session agenda
Session Agenda

  • Learn a little about the ADA by completing a hands-on case study (courtesy of

  • Address any of your disability-related issues and concerns

  • Answer your ADA questions

Part i

Part I

An introduction to your customer and her employment needs

Meet laurie
Meet Laurie…

  • Laid off from her job 2 months ago due to downsizing

  • Has been aggressively seeking employment on her own with no success

  • First time user of workforce center services

Employment needs
Employment Needs

  • Position desired: Technical writer or editor

  • Skilled writer and good editor who works well with others

  • Competent worker with over 15 years experience in the field

Disability related issues
Disability-related Issues

  • Laurie was diagnosed with bi-polar II disorder 10 years ago.

  • Common symptoms include:

    • Anxiety resulting in misplacing items, short term memory loss, anxiety attacks

    • Prescribed anti-anxiety medication causes drowsiness

    • Difficulty maintaining concentration

    • Difficulty handling excessive stress levels

Needed accommodations
Needed Accommodations

  • Worked out by Laurie and her doctor

  • Include:

    • Antidepressant medication twice daily

    • Having information in written form as backup to alleviate anxiety

    • Takes public transportation as needed instead of driving

    • Thinking ahead of how to cope with possible panic attacks and providing herself a “way out”

    • Quiet workspace with limited distractions

    • Flexibility to work from home or arrive later in the morning (when anxiety levels are elevated)

Question 1

Question 1

Is Laurie covered by the ADA?

Answer it depends
Answer: It depends!

ADA Definition of Disability

  • Mental or physical condition thatsubstantially limits one or more of life’s major functions

  • Record of impairment which substantially limits…

  • Regarded by others as having…

    Note: Diagnosis of an impairment does NOT necessarily mean a “disability”

Question 2

Question 2

What are Laurie’s rights in the workplace?

Answer 2 areas of ada protection
Answer: 2 areas of ADA protection

  • Employers cannot discriminate against her in regard to any employment practice, policies, conditions, or privileges of employment

  • Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities.

Reasonable accommodations
Reasonable Accommodations

  • Modifications or adjustments to a job, employment practice, or work environment that makes it possible for an individual with a disability to enjoy an equal employment opportunity

  • Equal employment opportunity: opportunity to attain same level of performance or to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment

Accommodation basics
Accommodation Basics

  • Must be an effective accommodation

  • Must only reduce employment-related barriers

  • Need not be best accommodation, just effective

  • Personal devices not required

  • Employer not prevented from providing extra accommodations

  • Ongoing process, not a one-shot deal

Question 3

Question 3

What are Laurie’s responsibilities during the accommodation process?

Answer be involved
Answer: Be Involved

  • Process must be initiated by the employee with a disability- disclosure required

  • Provide documentation of need for accommodation if requested

  • Be involved in process of identifying effective accommodation

Question 4

Question 4

When is the workforce center required to provide accommodations for Laurie?

Answer it depends1
Answer: It Depends!

  • Because this is a hidden disability, Laurie will need to disclose to the WFC before the ADA responsibilities kick in.

  • Programs, services, and activities must accessible to QIWDs

  • Provide reasonable accommodations when necessary

Question 5

Question 5

How does workforce center staff know what accommodations are appropriate for each customer?

Answer case by case basis
Answer: Case-by-case basis

  • Interactive discussion process with the customer

  • Know your accommodation resources

  • Issues related to psychiatric disabilities vary among individuals and depend upon the condition and specific limitations that person is experiencing

  • People with disabilities know what works best for coping with the effects of their disability!

Question 6

Question 6

Is the workforce center required to provide the accommodation that the customer wants?

Answer not usually
Answer: Not usually

  • Rule of thumb: accommodation must be effective

  • Exception: primary consideration

  • When an auxiliary aid or service is required, a public entity must honor the choice of the individual, unless it can demonstrate another equally effective means of communication is available.

    • Fundamental alteration

    • Undue financial or administrative burden

Part ii

Part II

Laurie’s first visit to the workforce center

Arrival at the wfc
Arrival at the WFC

  • Appreciates open arrangement/layout of workforce center facility- bright lighting, wide doorways and paths of travel, clearly defined work areas, clear signage

  • Layout allowed her to see where everything she may need was located

  • Her anxiety levels regarding her first visit were alleviated.

Customer service
Customer Service

  • Laurie drops her folder with her resume, letters of recommendation, references, and list of work skills, key responsibilities, and various projects associated with past jobs

  • No longer calm- begins shaking, heart pounds, vision blurs

  • The receptionist notices her distress

Question 7

Question 7

What should the receptionist do?

Answer be proactive
Answer: Be Proactive

  • Receptionist lets Laurie step out of line to collect her thoughts and return to line without losing her place

  • Laurie moves to one side of the counter, does a calming exercise, and moves back into line

  • Requests to take forms home to fill out and return later because her hands are still shaking

Question 8

Question 8

Is this a reasonable request?

Part iii

Part III

Laurie as a workforce center customer

Question 9

Question 9

Should Laurie disclose her disability to potential employers?

When should you disclose
When should you disclose?

  • Applying with a state or Federal agency with affirmative action responsibilities

  • Job relates to your experiences as a person with a disability

  • Having a disability is a requirement

  • Job-related limitations require you to request a reasonable accommodation

Disclosure strategies
Disclosure Strategies

  • If asked on an application to disclose, leave blank

  • During an interview, be prepared to answer difficult questions (like gaps in work history)

  • Be aware that the client may need to provide medical documentation when requesting accommodations

  • Focus on abilities and skills, not disability

  • Ultimately, disclosure is your client’s prerogative!

Question 10

Question 10

Does Laurie have any recourse if she is discriminated against because of her disability?

Answer file a complaint
Answer: File a Complaint

  • Must contact the EEOC first before taking private action

  • What happens when you contact the EEOC?

  • Complaint tips

  • Right to Sue Letter

Question 11

Question 11

What resources are available for you and Laurie?

Dbtac aka ada center
DBTAC (aka ADA Center)

  • Ten regional centers funded by the US Department of Education

  • Mission: Provide technical assistance on the ADA through training, materials, and direct assistance

  • Contact info:

    • Toll free hot line 800/949-4232 (voice/TTY)

    • or

Additional organizations
Additional Organizations

  • National Center on Workforce & Disability

    • 888/886-9898 (V,TTY)

  • Job Accommodation Network (JAN)

    • 800/526-7234 (V,TTY)

  • U.S. Dept. of Justice

    • 800/514-0301 (V)

  • U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

    • 800/669-4000 (V)

Online learning opportunities
Online Learning Opportunities

  • At Your Service: Welcoming Customers with Disabilities


  • Intro to Section 504 of the Rehab Act


  • ADA Training Resource Center


More questions
More questions?

Jana Copeland, PhD

DBTAC: Rocky Mountain ADA Center

3630 Sinton Road, Suite 103

Colorado Springs, CO 80907

800-949-4232 (V/TTY)

719/444-0269 (fax)