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Accommodating Employees with Hidden Disabilities

Article Summary:

This article is a fact sheet that discusses the importance of reasonable job accommodations for individuals with hidden disabilities.  The article provides examples of hidden disabilities such as "learning disabilities, mental illness, epilepsy, cancer, arthritis, mental retardation, traumatic brain injury, AIDS and asthma."  Hidden disabilities, while not necessarily noticeable, are addressed in The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as hidden disabilities "can result in functional limitations which substantially limit one or more of the major life activities".   

The article suggests that providing accommodations for individuals with hidden disabilities makes good business sense for all parties involved.  Employers benefit from including a qualified and diverse applicant/employee pool.  The individuals with disabilities benefit from a greater likelihood of obtaining and maintaining successful employment.  And, society benefits from having a lesser strain on publicly funded money associated with benefits and services for individual with disabilities.   

The remainder of the fact sheet gives examples of how simple accommodations can help an individual with a "hidden" disability to be successful.  Please find one example given below. 

¨       Situation:  An office manager who had been treated for stress and depression was experiencing difficulty maintaining her concentration when trying to complete assignments and meet critical deadlines.  

¨       Solution:  She discussed her performance problems with her supervisor.  The employer implemented accommodations that allowed her to organize her time by scheduling "off" times during the week where she could work without interruptions.  She was also placed on a flexible schedule that gave her more time for counseling and exercise.  The supervisor trained the employees co-workers on stress management and provided the office manager information about the companys employee assistance program.   

Reference: 

Accommodating Employees with Hidden Disabilities. (2000).  Retrieved on February 18, 2004 from http://www.ucp.org/.