I recently had the privilege of presenting at the Georgia ADA Coordinators conference held at the Georgia aquarium. In the room that I presented in, it ran right up against the beluga whales exhibit. There were times when I would look around the room, and I would see a couple of beluga whales staring at me. Kind of cool and weird at the same time. I had the opportunity to present on effective communications as well as be a co-panelist for an excellent presentation by Cheryl Frazier of the Georgia ADA Coordinator’’s office’s office on transition plans and self-evaluation plans. However, before I did those presentations, I had the opportunity to go to any presentation I wanted. I chose to go to Professor Simpson’s of the University of West Virginia presentation where after a brief presentation, which was also excellent, from an EEOC attorney, Professor Simpson spoke about the framework for the interactive process. I asked her for permission to use her presentation as the basis for a blog entry. She said absolutely but wanted to be sure I gave a shout out to the Job Accommodation Network as that is where her presentation came from. She used to work at the Job Accommodation Network, which is associated with the University of West Virginia, before moving into the faculty at the University of West Virginia. Professor Simpson’s website can be found here, and the Job Accommodation Network appears in my blogroll. I also thought the blog entry would do a nice job of building on my do’s and don’ts of the interactive process blog entry. You really need both. Think of this blog entry as the framework for the house, and my do’s and don’ts blog entry as a way the people are supposed to behave within the house. I do want to thank Stacey Peace, the Georgia ADA Coordinator, and Cheryl Frazier for allowing me to participate in the convention. They did a really great job. I also want to thank them both for the fabulous CART services they provided me so that I was able to equally benefit from the communications at the conference. The blog entry is really short. So, I am not going to break it down into categories. The framework for the interactive process goes like this:
- Recognize the accommodation request. Doing this means doing the following: remembering that magic words are not required, which we discussed here among other places; acting quickly; assigning responsibility so that it happens; and conducting training done by a qualified individual.
- Gathering information. Doing this means doing the following: finding out the individual’s limitations and problems; talking to the employee; remembering the rules on medical exams and disability related inquiries, which we discussed here among other places; remembering that the ADA has confidentiality rules, particularly for employment.
- Exploring accommodation options. Doing this means the following: consulting with the employee and making calls. I would add that be sure to consult with the employee first as the employee or the person with a disability as that person generally knows what works best. You can waste a lot of time trying to figure out a solution if you don’t ask the person with the disability first.
- Choosing the accommodation. Choosing the accommodation can get complicated. For example, if effective communication is involved and you are outside of the employment context, you have title II and title III effective communication rules to consider. As we have mentioned previously, those two rules are not the same in that under title II, primary consideration must be given to the person with a disability preferred mode of communicating while that is not the case with respect to title III. If effective communication is not involved, then you want to conduct the interactive process described in the do’s and don’ts blog entry. Remember, with respect to title I, reasonable accommodations have to be made unless an undue hardship is involved. With respect to title II title III, reasonable modifications have to be made unless an undue burden or fundamental alteration exists.
- Implement the accommodation. Doing this means doing the following: making sure all necessary steps are taken to implement the accommodation; and communicating with essential personnel about the accommodation.
- Monitoring the accommodation. Doing this means doing the following: checking on the effectiveness of the accommodation over time; and maintaining the accommodation. That is, don’t take it away if it is working; and making sure ongoing communication occurs.
So, there you have it. Between this blog entry in my dues and don’ts blog entry, you now have the house and the rules of the house.