MS and the Workplace: Requesting Reasonable Accommodations
Under the ADA, the responsibility for requesting accommodations lies with you. So, you need to be the one to figure out exactly what you need, and you need to be the one to initiate the conversation. Don’t wait until your supervisor starts complaining about your performance. Keep an eye on your own performance, recognize when it’s slipping, and figure out what changes could be made that would help bring your performance back up to snuff.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when you’re thinking of asking for workplace accommodations:
Consult with your healthcare team. For instance, vocational rehabilitation counselors and occupational therapists are particularly good at identifying helpful accommodations.
Request accommodations that will specifically enhance your performance, and be prepared to explain how your employer will benefit.
Be open to counter-suggestions. Your employer may have ideas that could be just as useful as your own.
Think creatively about ways in which assistive technology of various kinds may be helpful. Some great resources include the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), the ADA&IT Technical Assistance Center, ABLEDATA, your local vocational rehabilitation agency, and your occupational therapist.
Some of your fellow employees may resent any accommodations that are made for you — particularly if your symptoms are mostly invisible and they misinterpret the changes as preferential treatment. If you think that people are getting a little hot under the collar, be ready to explain how the accommodations help you get the job done.
After your co-workers understand the purpose of the accommodations, they’ll get the picture that everyone benefits from the outcome, not just you.