February 26, 2021

Field Placement & Career Accommodations and Resources

Welcome to the Field Placement & Career Accommodations and Resources tool. This tool was created to be an intuitive, self-paced, reflective, independent learning platform to support students in transitioning from academic to internship/practicum/field placement and career accommodation and access resources. You can use this tool at any point, whether you are at the pre-internship stage, starting an internship, or about to start your career. You can also move through the tool as a self-paced course, taking as much as you can and reflecting on your own experience and self-awareness throughout the modules. The more you do, the more you get out of it!

Table of Contents:

0. Field Placement & Career Accommodations Pre-test

  • Test your knowledge about accommodations to gain an idea of the topics in this guide that will benefit you most.

1. Preparing for Experiential Learning with a Disability 

1A. Pre-Field Placement

  • What counts as a disability? 
  • ADA Student Intern Rights & Supervisor Responsibilities  
  • Identifying essential functions of a position (worksheet & practice activity)
  • Appropriate & Inappropriate Interview Questions 
  • Compare & Contrast: Classroom vs. Field Experience Accommodations 
  • Disclosure: When & How 

2A. Pre-Placement Frequently Asked Questions

2. Internship/Practicum 

2A. During Your Field Experience

  • Who and how do I request accommodations from? 
  • What assistive technology can I use in my internship? 
  • Who do I contact if I have issues with my accommodations in my field experience?
  • More Info: Resources & Websites 

2B. Field Placement Frequently Asked Questions

2C. Resources for Site Supervisors

3. Preparing for Your Career 

3A. Before you Begin Your Job

  • Identifying essential functions of a position 
  • Inappropriate Interview Questions 
  • Who and how do I request accommodations from? 
  • What assistive technology can I use in my job? 
  • More Info: Resources & Websites 

3B. Career Preparation FAQs

4. Assistive Technology

5. General FAQs6

6. Suggestion Box

7. Collaborators

Pre-Test

Step 1 of 4

  • Before you get started on your journey, let’s reflect on some knowledge, skills, and assumptions you may have about the internship and career accommodation process. Maybe you will learn something new!

    Follow these instructions:

      Take your time. There's no time limit and you won't be logged out.
      Answer honestly and without jumping ahead (or the learning won't be as fun)
      Reflect on your experiences in school, at work, and other professional settings, and the experiences of people you know in school, work, and other professional settings.
  • (Optional) Providing your email allows us to send you a copy of your pre-test so you can compare it to your post-test answers later.
  • Check all that apply.

Pre-Field Placement

Introduction

In this section, you will learn….

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Students will identify at least three of their basic employment rights as a person with a disability 
  • Students will identify the essential functions of their internship/practicum  
  • Students will reflect on whether they can or cannot perform the essential functions with or without accommodation 
  • Students will express the pros and cons for disclosure to employers and requesting accommodations at various stages in the internship/practicum experience 
  • Students will explore at least one assistive technology that may enhance their access and job performance 
  • Students will reflect on classroom accommodations they may receive and how they may or may not apply to the internship setting.  

Section One: Rights of Disabled Students in Field Placement Settings

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) makes it unlawful to discriminate in employment against a qualified individual with a disability. The ADA also outlaws discrimination against individuals with disabilities in State and local government services, public accommodations, transportation and telecommunications. As “qualified student with a disability” who attends a public college or university and is participating in a field placement, internship or practicum experience for credit as part of your educational experience, you are protected by the ADA and ADA Amendments Act of 2008. This section will describe your rights as you perform work-related tasks as a student in a workplace setting.

In general, disabled individuals in the workplace have the following rights:

  • Federal law protects people with disabilities from discrimination in employment.
  • You do not have to inform an employer of your disability when you apply for a job or when you are hired — even if later you need a reasonable accommodation. 
  • If you can do the job, it is unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire or promote you, to fire or demote you, to harass you, or to pay you less because of your disability. 
  • You are also protected from unnecessary medical inquiries at work. 
  • You have the right to ask for and receive “reasonable accommodations” that allow you to have an equal chance to succeed. 
  • However, private employers with fewer than 15 employees are not covered by federal disability nondiscrimination laws. However, since you are a student a CSU which employs greater than 15 employees, you are covered by federal disability nondiscrimination laws in your field experience placement settings. 

Are You Protected by The ADA?

If you have a disability and are qualified to do a job, the ADA protects you from job discrimination on the basis of your disability. Under the ADA, you have a disability if you have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. The ADA also protects you if you have a history of such a disability, or if an employer believes that you have such a disability, even if you don’t.

To be protected under the ADA, you must have, have a record of, or be regarded as having a substantial, as opposed to a minor, impairment. A substantial impairment is one that significantly limits or restricts a major life activity such as hearing, seeing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, caring for oneself, learning or working.

If you have a disability, you must also be qualified to perform the essential functions or duties of a job, with or without reasonable accommodation, in order to be protected from job discrimination by the ADA. This means two things. First, you must satisfy the employer’s requirements for the job, such as education, employment experience, skills or licenses. Second, you must be able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation. Essential functions are the fundamental job duties that you must be able to perform on your own or with the help of a reasonable accommodation. An employer cannot refuse to hire you because your disability prevents you from performing duties that are not essential to the job.

What Employment Practices Are Covered?

The ADA makes it unlawful to discriminate in all employment practices such as:

  • recruitment
  • firing
  • hiring
  • training
  • job assignments
  • promotions
  • pay
  • benefits
  • lay off
  • leave
  • all other employment related activities.

It is also unlawful for an employer to retaliate against you for asserting your rights under the ADA. The Act also protects you if you are a victim of discrimination because of your family, business, social or other relationship or association with an individual with a disability.

Interviews & Disability-Related Questions

While interviewing with your site supervisor for your field experience, you will discuss many work-related questions focused on your knowledge, skills, abilities and performing the duties of the position at your field placement. While some questions may touch on aspects related to performing essential functions of the position that may require an accommodation, there are some appropriate and inappropriate interview questions that may arise. In general, employers and site supervisors cannot ask disability-related questions before they offer you the placement.

What is a disability-related question?

A disability-related question is a question that is likely to elicit information about a disability. On the other hand, if there are many possible answers to a question and only some of those answers would contain disability-related information, that question is not disability-related.

Examples of appropriate questions:

  • Can you perform the essential functions of the position, with or without accommodations? (Note: Whether you disclose you need accommodations at this stage is up to you).
  • Please demonstrate how you would perform this essential job function, with or without accommodation. (This may inherently bring up your need for accommodation).
  • Requiring a screening of applicants for current illegal drug use

Examples of prohibited/inappropriate questions during the pre-offer period include:

  • Do you have a disability? Do you need accommodations?
  • Do you have a heart condition? Do you have asthma or any other difficulties breathing?
  • Do you have a disability which would interfere with your ability to perform the position?
  • How many days were you sick last year? How many days did you miss class last semester?
  • Have you ever filed for workers’ compensation? Have you ever been injured on the position?
  • Have you ever been treated for mental health problems?
  • What prescription drugs are you currently taking?
  • Requiring a medical examination during the application or interview stage of the hiring process. After being hired, an employer can require an employer to undergo a medical examination if this is necessary due to the fundamental requirements of the job, but the results must be kept confidential and the examination must be required for all applicants post-hire, not just the person identified as disabled.

Resources:

Section Two: Being “Qualified” for the Position

As you learned in the previous section, disabled students have the right to an internship site free of discrimination by means of accommodation and equal access to the site. Accommodations are provided when an intern or practicum student requires a modification or adjustment to the environment in order to perform an essential task or duty related to the job. In this section, you will learn how to identify essential functions and possible modifications or accommodations to provide the disabled intern the ability to access their field experience. You will also explore examples of what may occur when a modification or accommodation cannot be identified to assist a disabled intern in performing an essential function of the position.

For this exercise, you will refer to the following sample Academic Coaching Position Description currently used for Human Development and Family Study student interns who work with the Student Disability Center:

Academic Coach Position Description

Position:

Academic Coaches will meet regularly with a small caseload of students with various disabilities and concerns throughout the semester to develop a learning partnership to assist students produce fulfilling results in their education. Through coaching, students will deepen their learning, take responsibility for their actions, improve effectiveness through additional academic strategies and skills, and consciously create outcomes in their life (based on LifeBound Academic Coaching).

Requirements:
  • Strong written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills such as active listening
  • Willingness to participate in training prior to working with clients
  • Genuine interest in working with people with disabilities with multiple intersecting identities (e.g. race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious affiliation, etc.).
  • General understanding of human development throughout the lifespan and impact on emerging adulthood
  • Mutual respect for clients and their respective conditions, disabilities, identities, and life experiences
Duties:
  • Attend 5-7 hours of training prior to meeting with clients, which includes but is not limited to meeting with your internship supervisor, reading about Academic Coaching, completing the Academic Coaching Workbook, watching Academic Coaching sample videos, engaging in practice coaching sessions with supervisor, and being shadowed by supervisor for your first sessions with clients
  • Meet 1:1 regularly with clients with disabilities (adults age 18-23+) with disabilities at CSU
  • Coach students throughout the semester through academic challenges through creative problem-solving and powerful questioning and genuine curiosity
  • Develop rapport with students through active listening, summarizing, and reflecting skills
  • Write case notes after each appointment with clients to demonstrate progress through coaching and reflect on effectiveness of strategies
  • Meet regularly with internship supervisor for support, feedback, and additional professional development
  • Additional duties can be developed based on internship goals

What is an “essential function” of a job?

Essential functions of a job are typically defined as the fundamental duties of the position that a person must be able to do, with or without accommodation.

What are the essential functions of this internship?

Looking at the above Academic Coaching internship position description, the essential functions can be found in the “duties” section. Most essential functions are found in a section under a similar name. Other names include “essential tasks” or “job requirements”. They can be further distilled down to basic tasks:

  • Attend 5-7 hours of training
  • Meeting with your internship supervisor
  • Reading about Academic Coaching
  • Completing the Academic Coaching Workbook
  • Watching Academic Coaching sample videos
  • Engaging in practice coaching sessions with supervisor
  • Being shadowed by supervisor for your first sessions with clients
  • Meet 1:1 regularly with clients with disabilities
  • Coach students throughout the semester
  • Develop rapport with students through active listening, summarizing, and reflecting skills
  • Write case notes after each appointment with clients
  • Meet regularly with internship supervisor

What potential access barriers may exist for someone in this internship?

Let’s imagine that someone may have a learning disability in reading (dsylexia) and is considering this internship program. What potential challenges or access barriers may come up when reflecting on these essential functions? Without generalizing or making too many assumptions, it may be the case that this person may have some of the following access barriers related to their disability:

  • reading materials on-the-spot during training, such as the position description, internship contract, and other materials
  • it may take the individual a bit longer to read training materials about academic coaching in their own time and completing the Academic Coaching Workbook
  • while watching the academic coaching videos, it may be difficult for the individual to write notes and watch at the same time
  • similarly, while meeting with their supervisor and clients, it may be difficult to take notes or recall session notes while also focusing on the meeting

Given the above access barriers, the disabled intern or practicum student may request reasonable accommodation in the internship setting to make adjustments to the environment or ways of doing their internship so they can effectively perform the essential functions.

What accommodations can an intern request?

Based on the above access barriers identified in response to the essential functions in the job description, the intern with a learning disability may wish to request some or all of the following accommodations:

  • advance access to training materials in order to review in advance of training
  • access to assistive technology in the workplace to be able to have text read aloud whenever possible
  • additional time to complete tasks related to reading, reading comprehension, and writing
  • the ability to record trainings, meetings, and sessions in order to revisit them for effective note-taking and case noting later

All of the above accommodations are reasonable and can provide an effective access to the internship program while also ensuring the student intern can adequately perform the essential functions of the position.

What if the intern is provided the accommodations but still cannot perform the essential functions?

It is crucial that whether or not a disabled students receive accommodations that they are able to perform the essential functions of the position, just as any other student. If the student has an access barrier, identifies these barriers are due to a disability and requests accommodations, receives accommodations, and still is unable to perform the essential duties, then they are unqualified to do the position. For instance, if the above student with dyslexia was provided the accommodation needed for recording sessions and note-taking, but they are unable to fulfill the essential function of writing session notes after each meeting with a client, then they are not performing an essential function and may be unqualified for the position.

Section Three: Reflection on Field Placement Accommodations

Now it’s your turn! Pull out your job description for your internship/practicum experience and highlight the essential functions (hint: it’s usually under “duties” or “job tasks”). If you don’t have a job description yet, request one from your site supervisor. Rewrite/type these essential functions into a bulleted list.

Reviewing these essential functions, circle or note any essential functions that you feel may pose an access barrier for you/ be challenging to meet. What are some challenges that may come up for you?

How might technology [hyperlink] make this essential function more manageable for you?

Section Four: Pros & Cons of Disclosure

Disclosing your disability status and identity is a personal decision and is 100% up to you. However, in order to utilize accommodations in the field experience setting, you must disclose at the same time that you also have a disability (though you do not need to provide information about the impairment or condition diagnosis, prognosis, symptoms, treatment or medication, or any other confidential information with your site supervisor). For assistance with determining when and why you might decide to disclose that you have a disability and may need accommodations, check out these useful resources:

Pre-Placement Frequently Asked Questions

Should I talk with my accommodation specialist before starting my internship/practicum/field placement?

Yes, absolutely! Your accommodations in a classroom, such as extended time on exams or use of a note-taker, may not transition effectively to a workplace in which those accommodations do not effectively reduce an access barrier that supports you in achieving an essential function of your field experience. Connect with your accommodation specialist by phone, email, or setting up an appointment with the front desk at sdc@colostate.edu and 970-491-6385 to brainstorm field experience accommodations relevant to your essential functions of your internship, practicum, or field placement. Once accommodations for your field placement are approved, your field placement coordinator and supervisor will receive the accommodation letter with those included via email.

Do all my academic accommodations automatically transfer over to my internship/practicum/field placement?

No, these accommodations do not automatically transfer. Your accommodations in a classroom, such as extended time on exams or use of a note-taker, may not transition effectively to a workplace in which those accommodations do not effectively reduce an access barrier that supports you in achieving an essential function of your field experience. Connect with your accommodation specialist by phone, email, or setting up an appointment with the front desk at sdc@colostate.edu and 970-491-6385 to brainstorm field experience accommodations relevant to your essential functions of your internship, practicum, or field placement. Once accommodations for your field placement are approved, your field placement coordinator and supervisor will receive the accommodation letter with those included via email.

If I get attendance flexibility in my classes, do I get excused absences in my internship/practicum/field placement?

It depends. Depending on your field placement job description and the essential functions and duties included, the ability to provide excused absences and attendance flexibility may differ from what can be provided in the classroom. Just as some classes like interactive labs, hands-on experimentation, and experiential learning limit classroom attendance flexibility for learning purposes, these can be limitations for field experience settings as well. Moreover, as an intern or professional support in a professional setting, sites are relying on our students to perform essential functions as part of our mutual contract. Field placement sites that include timely, in-person coordination of equipment, direct services such as counseling or rehabilitation, and other hands-on support may limit flexibility in attendance. To find out more information, please schedule a meeting with your field placement coordinator and accommodation specialist to discuss the essential functions of the field placement position and whether attendance flexibility is a reasonable accommodation and any limitations that may include.

How do I know what the essential functions of my field experience position are?

You can ask your site supervisor about the essential functions, duties, or skills required for the job by requesting a job description. For more information about this, refer to Section Two: Identifying Essential Functions of Position Descriptions of 1A. Before you Start.

Disclosure During Field Placement

You may not have decided to disclose whether you have a disability or need accommodations, which is totally fine. The below information gives some guidance on disclosing during different stages of the job/internship/field placement process.

During the Application

Some individuals choose to disclose immediately during the application process. This can be helpful if you want to be upfront with a potential work or internship site immediately.

During the Interview

Some individuals prefer to disclose during the interview process. This can be a good time to disclose and connect your disclosure of challenges to strengths that you would bring to the position.

When Offered the Job/InternshipPlacement

Some individuals prefer to disclose after they have been offered a position. You can have this conversation when accepting the job and internship, and discuss potential accommodations that you may want to utilize at this site.

When you Begin Your Job/Internship

Some individuals choose to disclose when they begin working. This conversation can happen when discussing accommodations that may be necessary to perform tasks at the work or internship site.

After Working for Some Time

Some individuals disclose after they have been working for some time. Some reasons include: a new job task is introduced that you want accommodations for, or if there is a change in supervisors and want support working with a new supervisor.

Never

You have the right to choose to not disclose a disability. However, if you choose not to disclose a disability, you may have a more difficult time justifying or documenting the need for accommodations at that work or internship site.

The Three W’s of Disclosure

Who: just because you choose to disclose, doesn’t mean you have to disclose to everyone at your job or internship. You can choose to only disclose to your direct supervisor.

What: you can choose how much you want to disclose – remember, internship sites don’t need to know everything about you when you disclose. You may choose to only disclose certain challenges that may impact you in that specific work setting.

When: it is your decision to choose when you feel most comfortable disclosing.

Section One: Requesting Accommodations in Your Field Placement

You’re now placed in a field experience setting with a specific position, detailed duties, and have identified the essential functions of your role. If you realized in the previous section 1A. Pre-Placement that you may need some accommodations in order to fulfill some of the essential functions of your position, this section will describe the process for requesting such accommodations in your field placement site.

You can always request accommodations for your field experience at any time from pre-placement, once placed, during your field experience, and even toward the very end. It is always up to you when and whether you wish to request accommodations to remove workplace barriers, barriers completing tasks, barriers to accessing your environment, or receiving equal treatment in your field experience.

Step One: Meet with the Student Disability Center

Before you start or at the beginning of your field experience, set up a meeting with a Student Disability Center Accommodation Specialist to inform them you need a change/adjustment in how you perform the essential functions of your job. You will meet to discuss how your disability impacts you in this field experience setting and why you need certain accommodations, and if your disability is not obvious or apparent, may request documentation to confirm your impairment. If you already receive accommodations with the SDC, they will review your classroom accommodations with you and compare them with the position description and essential functions of the position you are fulfilling in your internship.

Accommodation requests can occur orally or in writing. Here’s some examples of accommodation requests:

  • Example A: An intern tells her supervisor, “I’m having trouble getting to work at my scheduled starting time because of medical treatments I’m undergoing.” This is a request for a reasonable accommodation.
  • Example B: A practicum student tells his supervisor, “I need six weeks off to get treatment for a back problem.” This is a request for a reasonable accommodation.
  • Example C: A new employee, who uses a wheelchair, informs the employer that her wheelchair cannot fit under the desk in her office. This is a request for reasonable accommodation

Some helpful information to bring with you to your meeting with the SDC include:

  • Your field experience position description
  • Essential functions you’ve already identified
  • Your current accommodation letter
  • A list of essential functions you think you may need accommodations to perform or are concerned about performing

During your discussion with your specialist, you will discuss ways to establish accommodations in your field experience setting that will meet those essential functions that also ensure equal access to fulfilling your academic program requirements. For some ideas of some workplace-related accommodations by condition, impairment or functional area, check out the JAN Searchable Online Accommodation Resource (SOAR) for some ideas.

Here are some examples of reasonable accommodations from the EEOC:

  • making existing facilities accessible
  • job restructuring
  • part-time or modified work schedules
  • acquiring or modifying equipment
  • changing tests, training materials, or policies
  • providing qualified readers or interpreters
  • reassignment to a vacant position
  • medical leave
  • work at home

The following are not considered forms of reasonable accommodation and therefore not required under the ADA:

  • removing or eliminating an essential function from a job
  • lowering production standards
  • providing personal use items such as a prosthetic limb, a wheelchair, eyeglasses, hearing aids, or similar devices if they are also needed off the job

Step Two: Meet with your Site Supervisor

After you have identified some possible field experience accommodations, schedule a meeting with your site supervisor to discuss some accommodations you and your specialist have discussed. A site supervisor has to provide an accommodation that will meet your needs. If more than one accommodation meets your needs, then the site supervisor may choose which one to provide. You cannot insist on a specific accommodation only because it is a personal preference. If the site supervisor and SDC’s proposal does not meet your needs, then you need to explain why.

Sometimes, if one or more of your disabilities is obvious or readily apparent, and it is reasonable to question whether this disability may pose difficulty in performing the job task, your supervisor may ask you whether you require an accommodation to perform and essential job task. This is completely acceptable and within the parameters of the ADA. Offering accommodations when observing an intern may need them is okay. If this occurs, you can always invite in your accommodation specialist to your meetings with your site supervisor to provide support in determining reasonable accommodations for your field experience setting.

However, site supervisors are not allowed to ask all interns whether they have a disability or need accommodations in order to elicit disability-specific information unless they have information that leads them to believe they need to discuss whether the employee is qualified to perform an essential function of the position. If this occurs, please notify your accommodation specialist immediately so they can follow up with the site supervisor and field experience coordinator to clarify responsibilities and expectations.

Step Three:

Resources:

Section Two: Utilizing Assistive Technology

Section Three: Self-Reflection

Let’s take a moment to reflect on what you’ve learned.

  • What are the pros and cons of disclosing your disability during the application and interview process?
  • When do you think you will feel comfortable disclosing your disability? Do you feel you will disclose?
  • Who will you contact to request accommodations for your field placement?
  • What are some options for accommodations?

More Info & Resources:

For Frequently Asked Questions about accommodations and access during your field placement, go to 2B. Field Placement FAQs site.

Field Placement Frequently Asked Questions

How do I ask for accommodations?

Toggle content goes here, click edit button to change this text.

Resources for Site Supervisors

This page is a resource for site supervisors who

Responsibilities of Affiliated Field Placement Sites

Since affiliated field placement (internship, practicum, etc.) sites are agreeing to provide educational/practical experiences for CSU students to receive college credit, the site is seen as an extension of the CSU campus. Because of this, all students in a credited internship or practicum experience have federal nondiscrimination rights even at sites with less than 15 employees.

Sample Template Internship Position Description

Here’s a hyperlink: sample internship position description template that you as a site supervisor can use to build out your essential functions, duties, and technical skills and abilities required for your job. This assists the prospective intern in identifying the essential functions they may need accommodations or assistance with in order to perform, and will provide guidance for conversation moving forward.

Attendance Issues & Accommodations

Some students receive academic accommodations related to attendance flexibility in the classroom or academic environment. However, this accommodation does not always automatically transition smoothly to the internship and career environment depending on the established essential function of the internship site. As always, accommodations are provided within the context of the fundamental duties and functions of the internship. If a student intern or is unable to perform the essential function of the position with or without accommodation, then they are not qualified for the position and may need to find an alternate position, accommodation, or explore other options.

Assistive Technology

  • Do site supervisors need to provide the software/hardware for AT?
  • Do site supervisors need to be trained up in AT the student is using?
  • What does the supervisor need to do? (Digital accessibility/Universal Design vs. assistive technology)

Universal Design & Digital Accessibility

Steps for Inclusive Design Website

  • PowerPoints
  • Word Docs
  • PDFs

Appropriate & Inappropriate Interview Questions

The following are some examples of permissible and impermissible pre-job offer questions under the ADA:

 

 

Job Performance
DO DON’T
-Are you able to perform the essential function of the job you are seeking, with or without accommodations? -Do you have any physical or mental impairment that would keep you from performing the job you seek?

-What physical or mental impairments do you have that would affect your job performance?

Attendance Requirements
DO DON’T
-Can you meet our attendance requirements?

-How many days were you absent from your last job?

-How many Mondays or Fridays were you absent last year on leave other than approved vacation leave?

-How many days were you sick during your last job?
History of Injury
DO DON’T
-How did you break your leg? -Do you break bones easily?

-Do you expect the leg to heal normally?

Drug Use
DO DON’T
-Are you currently using illegal drugs? -What medications are you currently taking?
-Have you ever used illegal drugs? -How often did you use illegal drugs in the past?

-Have you ever been addicted to drugs?

-Have you ever been treated for drug addiction?

-Have you ever been treated for drug abuse?

Alcohol Use
DO DON’T
-Do you drink alcohol?

-Have you ever been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol?

-How much alcohol do you drink?

-Have you ever participated in an alcohol rehabilitation program?

Introduction

This module seeks to provide information, activities, and reflection on your first steps in your career as you enter the job accommodation process. Here’s the outline of the section:

  • Section One: Requesting Accommodations in Jobs
    • Step One: Identify a Position Description
    • Step Two: Appropriate & Inappropriate Interview Questions
    • Step Three: Who do I request accommodations from?
  • Section Two: Discrimination & Complaints
  • Section Three: What Assistive Technology can I use in the Workplace?
  • More Info: Resources & Websites

Section One: Requesting Accommodations in Jobs

Step One: Identify a Position Description

Find a position on O-NET that matches your career goals identify the following:

  • What are the essential functions of the position?
  • What are the essential qualifications, skills, or technical abilities?
  • Can you perform these essential functions, skills and technical abilities with or without accommodations?

https://askjan.org/publications/individuals/Finding-a-Job-that-is-Right-for-You.cfm

Step Two: Appropriate & Inappropriate Interview Questions

As you apply for jobs, your next thoughts will drift to interviews. As a reminder, there are questions you are not required to answer regarding medical or disability information within an interview or application materials. While you may choose to do so, these questions can sometimes be off-putting and unclear the motivation behind asking the question and where the information will be stored. You are in control of your narrative and how you choose to disclose your disability, if you choose to do so, and who you tell is up to you. Here’s a reminder of those appropriate and inappropriate interview questions:

The following are some examples of permissible and impermissible pre-job offer questions under the ADA:

 

 

Job Performance
DO DON’T
-Are you able to perform the essential function of the job you are seeking, with or without accommodations? -Do you have any physical or mental impairment that would keep you from performing the job you seek?

-What physical or mental impairments do you have that would affect your job performance?

Attendance Requirements
DO DON’T
-Can you meet our attendance requirements?

-How many days were you absent from your last job?

-How many Mondays or Fridays were you absent last year on leave other than approved vacation leave?

-How many days were you sick during your last job?
History of Injury
DO DON’T
-How did you break your leg? -Do you break bones easily?

-Do you expect the leg to heal normally?

Drug Use
DO DON’T
-Are you currently using illegal drugs? -What medications are you currently taking?
-Have you ever used illegal drugs? -How often did you use illegal drugs in the past?

-Have you ever been addicted to drugs?

-Have you ever been treated for drug addiction?

-Have you ever been treated for drug abuse?

Alcohol Use
DO DON’T
-Do you drink alcohol?

-Have you ever been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol?

-How much alcohol do you drink?

-Have you ever participated in an alcohol rehabilitation program?

Step Three: Who do I request accommodations from?

Whether you are applying, in the interview, or are on your first day of the job, you can request accommodations at any time. In a large business with over 25 employees, you may likely find a human resources or office of equal opportunity that is responsible for coordinating the accommodations process. For smaller businesses under 25 employees, HR and OEO offices may exist and you may be requesting accommodation and support from your direct supervisor or the recruiter. If you are unsure, you may ask “Who is the correct person to talk to about the accommodation process?” This allows you to find the correct person before disclosing your disability/ medical condition if that is what you prefer. For more on disclosure, consult the JAN Training Modules & Videos Regarding Disability Disclosure!

Once you identify where to request accommodations, you can request the accommodations you need. Don’t know what you can ask for? Remember in the previous activity that accommodations assist you in reducing barriers in order to perform essential functions of your job.

Section Two: Discrimination & Complaints

If appeals to denied requests and advocacy do not work and/or you feel you are being discriminated against in the workplace based on your disability, you may file an informal complaint within your organization or (if covered by the ADA) a formal complaint.

Individuals working for covered entities under Title I of the ADA may file a formal complaint with the federal agency that enforces the ADA – the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). A charge can be filed electronically through the EEOC Public Portal after an online inquiry is submitted to the agency or you can contact your nearest EEOC office or EEOC headquarters directly.

For detailed information about the ADA complaint process, see the following resources:

Employees of the federal government must follow a different complaint process under Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act. To learn about the procedures for filing a complaint of disability discrimination against a federal government agency employer, see the EEOC resource Overview of Federal Sector EEO Complaint Process.

Trust that you do have options if your accommodation request is denied, but consider what strategies for resolving the situation are right for you. Keep calm, ask why the request was denied, gather more information, and know your rights under the ADA. Explore your options — there might be a more ‘appealing’ option than you realize!

(AskJAN.org, “Your Accommodation Request Was Denied, Now What?”)

Section Three: What assistive technology can I use in my job?

Assistive technology and technology resources

More Info: Resources & Websites 

Where can I request accommodations for my job at CSU?

Please direct all employment accommodation requests to the Office of Equal Opportunity by calling 970-491-5836 to schedule an appointment. You may also visit the OEO website to learn about their processes and procedures and access the Reasonable Accommodation Request Form and Health Care Provider Evaluation Form.

Assistive Technology

There are a number of assistive technologies available for students and those assistive technologies may also be available in the workplace.  This section provides an overview of AT and how it can be implemented as part of your experiential education (internship, practicum) or in the workplace as you begin your career. For more information about AT, please visit the Assistive Technology Resource Center Website. For more information about how to create accessible websites, materials and communications, please visit the CSU Accessibility by Design Website.

Technology Considerations:  

Assistive Technology (AT):  

  • The federal definition of Assistive technology (AT) is:  any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.  More simply said, AT can be anything that helps a person with a disability or impairment to perform a task (Assistive Technology Act, 2004).  

Examples of AT in the internship/ practicum setting 

  • AT in the internship, practicum or work setting can often be very similar to the tools used by students in higher education.   Many work-related tasks involve reading, writing, and time management and a plethora of AT tools exist to support those essential job functions.  

Examples of AT 

Writing

AT and mainstream tools that can assist with the writing process can include but are not limited to technology such as: voice recognition software that lets you dictate to the computer, mind mapping/ concept mapping software that allows you to create visual diagrams of your ideas, and grammar and spelling support software. 

Reading

AT and mainstream tools that can assist with reading can include but are not limited to technology such as: literacy support software that can provide visual adjustments and read the text aloud, speed reading programs, screen magnifiers, and Braille.  

Note-taking

AT and mainstream tools that can assist with notetaking can include but are not limited to technology such as: digital recorders, smart pens, portable magnifiers, and audio note-taking software.  

Time Management and Organization

Low tech tools that can assist with time management might include: checklist, day planners, timers and alarms. High tech tools might be apps for calendaring, to do list, notes & voice memos, and alarms as reminders.  

Accessing a Computer

AT tools can provide access to a computer beyond using a standard keyboard and mouse. People with mobility limitations or injuries might use an adapted or alternative keyboard and mouse, head pointing, eye gaze, switch access and even ergonomic keyboards and mice 

How do you acquire the necessary assistive technology?

  • Post-secondary/higher education: AT is provided by CSU if deemed an appropriate accommodation for participation in educational opportunities.  
  • Practicums/ Internships: AT is provided by the institution requiring the internship (CSU). 
  • Workplace: AT is provided by the employer if deemed an appropriate accommodation for participation in essential functions of the job. 
  • Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR): can purchase the AT for the individual to keep as part of their pursuit of gainful employment.  DVR helps individuals with disabilities prepare for, obtain, advance in, and maintain employment by providing a range of services based on individual employment needs and goals.  

General Frequently Asked Questions

When and how should I disclose to my employer that I have a disability to an employer? Am I required to disclose that I have a disability?

Disclosing is a personal decision. You can disclose on your application, during your interview, while onboarding, when a concern comes up after you have been working or never. When considering when (or if) to disclose, you should remember that to receive an official accommodation under the ADA, you will need to disclose.  For more information, please visit:

I’m nervous about disclosing my disability to a potential employer. What resources can I use to feel prepared to have this conversation?

It is normal to feel nervous to disclose a disability to anyone, especially a potential employer. There are several things you can do to prepare for having this important conversation: 

 

  • Take some time to reflect on who you want to disclose to, how much you want to disclose, and when you want to disclose. Check out this infographic (link Canva infographic) for more information about when can be good times to disclose a disability during the interview or hiring process.
  • Make a script that highlights the key points of what you want to disclose and how you want to say it. Take time to practice saying this script so that it feels natural and comfortable to you, and get feedback from friends or family if this will help you feel more prepared.

If you’re still unsure about what you want to disclose to an employer, reach out to one of the following resources to set up an appointment to get feedback on what to say and how: CSU Career Services or CSU Student Disability Center.

What can a potential supervisor ask me about my disability?

Supervisors cannot ask you directly if you have a disability, but can ask questions about your performance or how you get to work, which may lead them to infer that you have a disability. Questions they are allowed to ask include: ‘Can you complete the essential functions of the job?’  or ‘Do you have reliable transportation to get to work on time, during holidays, etc.?’

Having a job coach present in an interview or working with a job developer to network with businesses on your behalf will most likely share with the employer that you have a disability. Although job coaches and job developers cannot share what your disability is or confirm that you have a disability without your permission, working with these support professionals will spark interest with interviewers. For more examples of what employers can and cannot ask during an interview and to learn how to navigate answering any probing questions, please visit: https://career.colostate.edu/resources/navigating-illegal-interview-questions/

What is a job coach? How can I use a job coach? Are there specific times it is appropriate or inappropriate to have a job coach?

A job coach is someone who is trained to provide support and advocacy for individuals with disabilities in the workplace. Job coaches can help individuals advocate for and implement appropriate, reasonable accommodations at the worksite. Working with a job coach is considered a reasonable accommodation. Many individuals who work with job coaches have disclosed their disability to their employer, though some choose not to and can still work with a job coach. Job coaches can be available either onsite or offsite depending on the comfort of the individual working with the job coach. Job coaches who work onsite can work collaboratively with the individual to evaluate the environment they work in, assess job tasks, or recommend potential reasonable accommodations. Some individuals are not comfortable having their job coach come to their worksite, especially if they have not disclosed their disability to their employer or internship supervisor. In this case, working with a job coach offsite might be more appropriate, as the job coach can still support the individual with tasks and potential reasonable accommodations. Offsite job coaching can occur over the phone, over a virtual meeting, or a face-to-face meeting at a location other than the jobsite. For more information about job coaches, please visit: https://askjan.org/articles/Job-Coaches-and-Support-People-for-Individuals-with-Intellectual-Disabilities.cfm?cssearch=3751181_1

Typically, clients who utilize a job coach begin by connecting the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. Their website is: https://dvr.colorado.gov/

If I need to take time off due to a physical disability or autoimmune disorder, how will that be handled? What about time off for a mental health or recurring medical appointments?

When taking time off for any reason the key to success is communication. It is best practice to give your supervisor as much notice as possible and keep an open line of communication with your supervisor so that you feel comfortable making the time off request or adjusting your schedule (if the appointments are ongoing). It is also important to remember to stay professional when requesting your time off as your supervisor does not need to know details about your medical health history (physical or mental). It is usually enough information to share that you have an appointment or that you need to take time off for your health. If it is a reoccurring event during your internship/ fieldwork placement it would be beneficial to express this need with your potential supervisor early on (during your interview or beginning of your placement) so that your supervisor can accommodate the request and adjust your schedule and tasks as needed. Be aware that flexible schedules are not as accessible for some placement sites as others, so it is best to look for sites who share they have more flexibility with client needs, scheduling, etc. Flexible attendance may have been an accommodation you had in college, but this looks different in the employment world. Most worksites are not able to accommodate a flexible schedule, but rather could help develop a schedule that is workable for you before you begin your internship or job. Considering remote opportunities may also be a good solution for someone who may need a flexible schedule.  For more information on how to use mental health related accommodations, please visit: ttps://askjan.org/disabilities/Mental-Health-Conditions.cfm?cssearch=3751184_1   

Are emotional support animals allowed in professional settings?

This depends on the work or internship site, but it is likely that many employers will not accommodate for emotional support animals. While service animals (animals that are trained to work or perform specific tasks for an individual with a disability) are protected under ADA, emotional support animals (animals that provide emotional support through companionship) are not. For more information about emotional support animals, please visit: https://askjan.org/solutions/Support-Animal.cfm. 

What accommodations are available during my work hours to help me focus?

Extra breaks are an approved accommodation under the ADA. There are many ways to go about adding this accommodation into your daily routine. Some fieldwork sites/employers may want to help you create a schedule with your break times so that you can still complete the essential functions of your role when they need to be completed (for example, you don’t want to take a long break in the busiest part of the day for the company).

Another way you may be able to increase focus could be using white noise while working, creating a routine to follow, or having check ins with your supervisor about prioritizing tasks. These are all accommodations and techniques that a job coach can help you add to your internship, fieldwork, or job as needed.

For more information about accommodations for people who have a disability that impacts their ability to focus, please visit:

Do employers provide extensions on projects similar to my extensions on college projects?

While extensions may be an appropriate accommodation at some worksites or for some job tasks, implementing this as accommodation is likely to be highly dependent on the worksite and the essential job functions. Essential Functions of the job are allowed to be completed with or without accommodations, though some tasks, like documentation or paperwork, may be time sensitive with deadlines that cannot be extended due to the nature of the job. Therefore, you will need to prioritize your time to be able to complete your responsibilities within the specific timeframe. We encourage you to talk with your supervisor about essential job functions and deadlines and work collaboratively with them to establish a plan to ensure you have what you need to succeed.  

Things to know about essential job functions

  • Found in the job description
  • Only certain people can complete (i.e. a teacher presents lessons to students)
  • Is typically the primary responsibilities or tasks of the job or internship
  • Removing essential functions is not an authorized accommodation under ADA

If I feel bothered by certain sensory factors, is it possible to make minor changes to the environment?

After disclosing, you have the ability to work with your supervisor or HR to modify the environment. Keep in mind that modifying the environment, may take time as it often involves gaining approval from higher management. It also takes money, so a strong need will most likely need to be shared prior to the company being able to complete this accommodation request.  This is something a job coach or the company’s human resources team can help you navigate.

For a shorter timeframe placement, it may be in your best interest to test out other accommodation before altering the environment. Some appropriate and less intense practices to help with sensory factors could be:

  • Bringing in a lamp with less harsh light emissions for your desk,
  • Listening to white noise via headphones, and/or
  • Bringing in items from home that you are comfortable with such as writing utensils, chairs, etc.

For more information about accommodations for sensory factors, please visit: Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) (askjan.org)

Is using assistive technology at work or an internship site allowed? Is there a process for be able to use assistive technology, or learn how to use it?

If you are a current CSU student with a disability, you have access to the Assistive Technology Resource Center (ATRC). The ATRC can work with you individually to assess assistive technology that may benefit you at your worksite. The ATRC can provide equipment loans as well as training sessions for how to effectively utilize the equipment. For more information, please visit: https://www.chhs.colostate.edu/atrc/assistive-technology-resources/

For more specific questions related to your disability or internship/job site, please reach out to your Internship Supervisor, CSU Career Services, CSU Student Disability Center, or Center for Community Partnerships’ Employment Services.

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