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Being Heard: How to Write an Accommodation Request

In today's article, we will discuss how to formally request accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) If done properly, your employer is required by law to take your request seriously, by federal law as detailed under 42 U.S.C.§ 12101(read as "42 United States Code, Section 12101").

No, no. We're not talking about these accommodations. We're talking about workplace accommodations.

If you feel that HR is not taking your request seriously, they may be breaking federal and/or state law, and you can pursue legal action against them. If you had a good experience with HR in the past, however, you may want to consider giving them the benefit of the doubt and professionally correct them on their discrepancy, as appropriate.

In the event that you feel that your HR department or your school is willfully being unlawful, then you should collect all relevant evidence, including phone logs, meeting minutes, and emails and consider filing federal or state charges against your employer. This will largely be a judgment call on your part.

That said, how do you formulate an accommodation request letter? Although the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) can provide a template on request, we will go over the meat and potatoes here.

Your letter should have the following:

  1. Appropriate headers, including your name, job title, and department.

  2. The appropriate header for either the head of human resources, student affairs, or leading benefits specialist.

  3. Start off with a typical salutation, such as "Dear Ms. Carolyn Xavier,"

  4. Identify yourself as a person with disabilities that is seeking accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008.

  5. State your disabilities.

  6. Assure your employer that you can fulfill all essential duties and responsibilities with reasonable accommodations.

  7. Start a new paragraph, stating how these disabilities affect your job performance. If you like, you can format this paragraph as a bulleted list for each point.

  8. Start another paragraph, suggesting what you think are reasonable accommodations.

  9. Start another paragraph and/or bulleted list that explains why you think these accommodations will help improve your job performance and thus benefit the company.

  10. Close with a paragraph, thanking the HR professional for taking time to look over your request, and that you can provide any necessary supporting documentation on request. Finally, state that you look forward to engaging in this interactive process as soon as possible.

  11. Make a signature and date block for yourself.

  12. Print, sign, date, scan and send to HR and/or student affairs for review.

  13. If your final document is more than 1 page, include a footer that has your name, subject, and page x of y total pages, where x is the current page number and y is the total number of pages.

Now that we have gone over the general workflow, let's dig in with a little bit more detail.

For section 1, a header is typically formatted like this:

From: Name

Job Title

Department of [Department Name]

University Name

Building Name

Address Line 1

Address Line 2

Work Phone:

Work Email:

For section 2 (optional):

To: [HR director's name, and any certifications, if known]

Director, Human Resources

University Name

Building Name

Address Line 1

Address Line 2

Work Phone

Work Email

Section 3:

Dear Mr./Ms. [HR Director],

Section 4:

I self-identify as an individual with disabilities, and I am seeking accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008.

Section 5:

I am currently diagnosed with major depressive disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Section 6:

I can complete all essential job duties and functions with reasonable accommodations.

Section 7:

My disabilit(ies) affect my job in the following ways (examples).

  1. Because I have depression, it can be difficult at times to stay cheerful or express enthusiasm.

  2. I sometimes lose focus, due to my ADHD.

  3. ...

Section 8:

The following are suggested accommodations:

  1. Positive feedback

  2. Written reminders from my supervisor.

  3. ...

Section 9:

These accommodations would help me with my job in the following ways.

  1. Depressed people have low self-esteem. Positive feedback will help me to remain cheerful and engaged in my work.

  2. Written reminders from my supervisor will help me with managing my day-to-day activities and ensure I am making the most appropriate use of my time.

  3. ...

Section 10: Thank you very much for seriously taking the time to consider my request for accommodations. I can provide all supporting documentation upon request. I look forward to engaging in this interactive process in a prompt, timely manner. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions.

Section 11-13:


__________________ __________________

Name Date

Alternatively, you can add your job title and everything under your name in the signature block. In the template I provided, this is the case. I also did not include the HR director's title in the example, as this is optional.

This may seem overwhelming, but trust me. Doing this is well worth the time and effort. As I mentioned before, JAN should be able to provide you with a clean template to work with, even though this addresses everything that should be required in an accommodation request. I will also provide a .docx copy of the template as an attachment later as an edit to this post.

Good luck, and make good use of the resources you should now be familiar with!

Download DOCX • 19KB

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