Workplace accommodations may be paid for by a variety of sources. Under the ADA, employers are responsible for covering the costs of reasonable accommodations unless it would result in undue hardship. However, in practice, teachers, vocational rehabilitation, workers compensation, and/or insurance will often be involved in paying for accommodations.
As mentioned, under the ADA, employers are responsible for covering the costs of reasonable accommodations. Our research found that employers paid for at least part of accommodations a little over half of the time.
If the responsibility for paying for accommodations falls to the employer, why did our research find that about 69% of teachers were paying for at least part of their accommodations themselves? There are several reasons: some educators may be reluctant to request accommodations, some may prefer to own the equipment themselves so that they can use it at home or other settings, and others may share the costs with their employer so that a better, more expensive accommodation can be purchased.
Only 13% of the teachers in our study were clients of state vocational rehabilitation agencies (VR), however those agencies are another source for accommodations. VR policies differ slightly between states, but they all provide services to individuals with a permanent physical or mental impairment which interferes with their ability to work. The individual must wish to work and be capable of benefiting from VR services to "prepare for, enter into, engage in, regain, or retain gainful (paid) employment." VR is mandated to step in only where other funding is not available. Thus, since employers are only required to provide accommodations related to an employee’s job tasks and participation in the workplace, VR will often assist with other related expenses, such as job training, personal equipment, and supports needed to help a person get to and from the job.
Personal insurance, Medicaid and Medicare will sometimes pay for personal / medical equipment (e.g., vision aids, hearing aid, wheelchair). While some of this equipment might have usefulness at work, it is important to remember that these programs will often only pay for those expenses for which there is a medical need, and it is that medical need that must be emphasized when communicating with these groups.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - http://www.cms.hhs.gov
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