Monday, November 10, 2014

Myth vs. Fact – The Cost of Workplace Accommodations

By Lindsay Boerens
Utah Disability Law Center

Myth: 99% of all green Jell-O is consumed in the state of Utah.

Fact: In 2001, the Utah state senate recognized Jell-O as a favorite snack food and the governor declared an annual Jell-O week. 
Green Jell-O Mold

Myth: Accommodations for employees with disabilities are expensive.

Fact: 58% of accommodations for employees with disabilities actually cost nothing.

A common misconception is that accommodations for employees with disabilities are expensive. 

However, according to an ongoing study conducted by the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) since 2004, employers report that 58 percent of accommodations cost them ZERO dollars. The rest typically cost less than $500. 

Employers often assume that accommodations are expensive, high-end electronics and technology. Many forget that assistive technology can include any item, piece of equipment, software or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.  

According to JAN, simple items such as tennis balls, headlamps, and even curtains could all be used as a reasonable accommodation in the workplace. 
Assistive technology to help accommodate  workers can be high-tech or low-tech.
Assistive technology to help accommodate
workers can be high-tech or low-tech.

It is important to note that some types of assistive technology (AT) that are more expensive may be necessary. The type of accommodation needed will always depend on an individual’s particular situation – including their job and their disability. 

One thing for employers to consider is that, in some cases, something as simple as putting curtains up to reduce glare on a computer screen for an employee with migraine headaches is much less complicated (and more than likely much less expensive) than searching for the best anti-glare computer monitor on the market. 

So remember, before jumping to the conclusion that an accommodation will break the bank, low cost and effective accommodations do exist. Employers and employees can find a wealth of information on job accommodations on the JAN website:, and check out the JAN search for accomodations by disability gadget on the right-hand side of this blog.

If you are a person with a disability and are in need of an accommodation at work, you can contact the Disability Law Center for more information and, if necessary, legal consultation to help you resolve issues with your employer. Visit us at or call us at 1-800-662-9080.

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