Reasonable accommodation for staff with a disability

Workplace assistance, modification or adjustments to overcome barriers in employment.

If you require the provision of any permanent or temporary reasonable accommodations to do your job, due to a disability, injury or illness, you should discuss this with your manager.

Reasonable accommodation, which does not impose a disproportionate burden, is not a favour or a courtesy. It is the law. It is not a lowering of standards but a recognition that circumstances may require some fine-tuning to support individual performance on the job.

They may be structural, organisational, technological or procedural. Some examples include:

  • making physical adjustments, such as ensuring access to a building or equipment, reorganising workspaces, ensuring good ventilation, or adjusting lighting or temperature
  • providing assistive technology; such as magnification equipment, microphones at meetings, navigation aids, noise cancelling headphones, etc
  • modifying the way a job is done, for example by changing tasks, or allocating or swapping aspects of the job to another employee
  • allowing flexible working arrangements; eg, more frequent breaks, working from home days, shorter days, working in a different area, providing a quiet space, providing extra time in a pre-employment work test to allow for sign language interpretation
  • giving instructions in writing as well as verbally
  • removal of allergenic products or preventing contamination of food preparation areas
  • providing a mentor, on-the-job coach or a specialist workplace assessor, using a sign language or video remote interpreter for interviews, performance appraisals etc.

Each case will be considered in its own circumstances and on its own merits. Other people who may be involved include the HR manager, HS&W manager, building manager and external specialists, if appropriate.

Requests for reasonable accommodation should be provided in a timely manner and may need to be supported by communications and awareness sessions with co-workers.

Managers can discuss with the Staff Equity Manager, refer to the Staff with Disabilities and their Managers Guidelines, and download more information below on providing reasonable accommodation.

For further information read the Summary of Reasonable Accommodations by Office of the Ombudsman, the Human Rights Commission and the Convention Coalition Monitoring Group.

High-tech glasses assist with everyday tasks: a case study

Alumni relations' Fraser Alexander sports glasses that connect him to a virtual assistant.
Alumni relations' Fraser Alexander sports glasses that connect him to a virtual assistant.

Staff member Fraser Alexander recently started using high-tech glasses that connect him to a virtual assistant and says it has been a game-changer for navigating around campus.

The remote assistant can see what Fraser (pictured above) is looking at through a camera and direct him or read signs out loud, or they can use GPS to help Fraser navigate.

The only catch with the Aira technology is students and staff see a man with a cane, and offer to help, making it difficult to hear the virtual assistant.

“Some people even grab my elbow,” Fraser says. “There’s no way they could realise I’m getting virtual assistance through an ear-bud."

Fraser’s manager, director of Alumni Relations and Development Mark Bentley, says he was pleased to be able to approve Fraser’s access to Aira.

“It allows him to independently perform a variety of advanced tasks and communications that would be a struggle otherwise."

Mark is pleased he has been able to support Fraser in a number of ways, including work-related taxi travel, administrative support and blindness-specific equipment, applications and software.