Employment

Job Accommodations

Going back to work out after a spinal cord injury is a lot like your first day of school.  You're nervous and you're not sure how everyone will treat you. It's tough, but you must go through it if you want to work. After all, making some good old fashioned hard cash helps improve your self-esteem, especially after a spinal cord injury.

But going back to work requires at least a couple of job accommodations if you have an injury to your spinal cord. Even if you're a paraplegic, an accessible desk is required. Quadriplegics of course, depending on the job, will require more accommodations. Just know you're not being "a bother." Thanks to the ADA, all employers are required to provide "reasonable" job accommodations to their employees if they have a disability.

And the exciting thing (if you can call it that) - there are hundreds of accommodations helping people with spinal cord injuries return to work. From a headset for answering phones or a car mechanic using a standup wheelchair to still fix cars, the technology out there that helps people with SCI return to work range from standard to amazing. Don't ever doubt what is still possible until you do your research.

Asking Time

If you're new to the disability scene, the prospect of asking for job accommodations can be intimidating. You don't want to come across as the needy "cripple" we get that, but you do have rights. When you're first hired, this is the best time to ask for the job accommodations you'll need to still do the job. Better be upfront and let them know what is required right away, then surprise your employer later on. 

Remember, the key word is "reasonable" accommodations. As long as the accommodations don't cost the employer too much money, they are required to do provide them. Also know your rights.

And if your employer isn't sure which accommodations to provide, educate them. Most employers know this is a good opportunity for educating themselves, and will welcome having you on staff. Just remember that during an interview, no employer is allowed to ask you what your disability is. You can be as forthright or as secretive as you'd like, as long as you can do the job.

In the meantime, watch the video below of all of the job accommodations provided by the country's leading accommodation specialists, and don't forget to check out the Takeaway Points afterwards.

Video: Job Accommodation Network (JAN)

Takeaway Points

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities
  • Voice-recognition helps many
  • Hand-held scanner and one-handed keyboards are popular job accommodations
  • Most accommodations cost less than $500

Job Accommodation Resources

  • Job Accommodation Network/JAN (they will help you ask your employer for job accommodations in accordance with the ADA) http://askjan.org

Table of Contents
  1. The Law Is On Your Side
  2. Job Accommodations
  3. Vocational Rehabilitation