The ADA, Employment and Assistive Technology

Article Highlights:
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to make some accommodations for employees with disabilities. 
  • Vocational rehabilitation programs also can pick up some costs.
  • Unreimbursed work-related adaptations can be deducted from income taxes.
by Kathy Wechsler on October 1, 2009 - 9:51am

QUEST Vol. 16, No. 4

Employers must consider adapting or providing alternatives for work-related items they would usually provide for all employees such as desks, chairs, computers and telephones, says Linda Batiste, principal consultant for the Job Accommodation Network (JAN).


If an employer can’t make the workplace accommodation because he or she can prove that it would be an undue hardship, meaning that it would require significant difficulty or expense, the employer must try to find an alternate way of accommodating the employee.


If expenses are the problem, the employer should contact resources such as the state’s vocational rehabilitation agency or assistive technology project to find help paying for the equipment. At any time, the employer can contact JAN to find other local funding sources.


Sometimes an employer can pay only a certain amount before it becomes an undue hardship. In that case, the employee could pay the remainder of the cost or contact resources on his or her own, says Batiste.


If employees purchase equipment to help them on the job and are not reimbursed for it, they can deduct the cost from their taxes as an “impairment-related work expense.”


For more information, contact JAN at (800) 526-7234 or visit

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