The Department of Commerce (DOC) is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to applicants and employees with disabilities unless the Department can demonstrate that providing a particular accommodation would impose an undue hardship. Reasonable accommodations are provided to remove barriers that prevent individuals with disabilities from applying for jobs, performing the essential functions of the position held or desired, gaining access to the workplace, or enjoying equal benefits and privileges of employment as individuals without disabilities.
The Department’s reasonable accommodation policy is outlined in Department Administrative Orders, 215-10, Reasonable Accommodation for Employees or Applicants with Disabilities (DAO-215-10).
What is a reasonable accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment or the way things are customarily done that would enable a qualified individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. There are three categories of reasonable accommodation:
- Changes to the job application process that enable a qualified applicant with a disability to be considered for the position the applicant desires. For example, providing a sign language interpreter for an interview for an applicant who is deaf or hard of hearing (hoh).
- Changes to the work environment, or to the way a job is usually done, that enable a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of that position. For example, adjusting a work schedule or telework flexibility to enable a disabled employee to attend medical appointments.
- Changes that enable an employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment. For example, making adjustments to training or workshop materials for a visually impaired employee.
Who is a qualified individual with a disability?
A qualified individual with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment (or is regarded as having or has a record of such impairment) which substantially limits one or more major life activities, and who meets the skill, experience, education, or other requirements of a position that s/he holds or seeks, and who can perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodation.
What are Personal Assistance Services (PAS)?
PAS are non-medical services that allow employees with targeted disabilities to fully participate in the workplace by providing assistance with activities of daily living, such as eating, drinking, using the restroom, and putting on and taking off clothing. For many individuals with targeted disabilities, i.e. paralysis or cerebral palsy, full participation in the workplace is impossible without such services. PAS allow these individuals to enjoy the opportunity and independence of employment.
To learn more about PAS, please review the Department’s DAO 215-10.
What are the Accessibility Standards for Individuals with Disabilities in the Federal workplace?
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, requires in part, that electronic and information technology (EIT) developed, maintained, procured, or used by the Federal Government after June 21, 2001, be accessible to individuals with disabilities, including employees and members of the public. U.S. Access Board is a federal agency that promotes equality for people with disabilities through leadership in accessible design and the development of accessibility guidelines and standards for the built environment, transportation, communication, medical diagnostic equipment, and information technology.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, requires, in part, that federally-sponsored or facilitated meetings, conferences, presentations and programs to which members of the public are invited or admitted must be accessible to individuals with disabilities. It is the Department’s policy to provide individuals with disabilities full access to Departmental programs, information and services.
Department of Commerce Administrative Orders
- Department Administrative Order 215-10: Reasonable Accommodation for Disabilities in Employment
- Department Administrative Order 209 - 8: Access for People with Disabilities to Meetings and Other Group Events
Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Pub. L. 93-112) (Rehab. Act), as amended, as these sections appear in volume 29 of the United States Code, beginning at section 791. Section 501 prohibits employment discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the federal sector. Section 505 contains provisions governing remedies and attorney's fees under Section 501. Relevant definitions that apply to sections 501 and 505 precede these sections.
Section 508 requires that Federal agencies must ensure comparable accessibility to persons with disabilities whenever that agency uses electronic or information technology, unless such access would impose an undue burden. This web site contains the text of Section 508, as amended, as well as other materials.
- Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) - This law makes it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities in employment (Title I), in public services (Title II), in public accommodations (Title III) and in telecommunications (Title IV). EEOC is responsible for enforcing Title I's prohibition against discrimination against people with disabilities in employment. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to applicants and qualified individual with disabilities unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business.
- Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 ADAAA - This law made a number of significant changes to the definition of “disability.” It also directed the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to amend its ADA regulations to reflect the changes made by the ADAAA. EEOC provides information about the ADAAA.
Guidance and Regulations
- EEOC Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act Q&A
- Executive Order 13548 - Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities, July 26, 2010 -
- Executive Order 13164 - Requiring Federal Agencies to Establish Procedures to Facilitate the Provision of Reasonable Accommodation, October 20, 2000
- EEOC Policy Guidance on Executive Order 13164: Establishing Procedures to Facilitate the Provision of Reasonable Accommodation
- Questions and Answers: Policy Guidance On Executive Order 13164: Establishing Procedures to Facilitate the Provision of Reasonable Accommodation
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Enforcement Guidance: Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship Under the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Title 29 CFR Part 1630: Regulations to implement the equal employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Office of Personnel Management, Disability Employment: Reasonable Accommodations
- Job Accommodation Network
- Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy
- Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN)
- U.S. Access Board – about Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act which requires access for both members of the public and federal employees to electronic and information technologies when developed, procured, maintained, or used by federal agencies.
- U.S. Access Board – about accessibility standards issued under the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 (ABA) that apply to sites, facilities, and buildings designed, built, altered, or leased with certain federal funds.
- Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program – provides assistive technology and accommodations to support individuals with disabilities and wounded, ill and injured service members throughout the Federal Government in accessing information and communication technology.