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Reasonable adjustment

This factsheet has been developed as part of a series to help agencies attract and retain diverse ICT staff. For more information on ICT workforce planning, please see the Whole-of-government strategic ICT Workforce Plan 2010–2013 or email ictskills [at] apsc.gov.au

What is reasonable adjustment?

For many people with disability, a major barrier to equal opportunity, equal participation or equal performance at work is some feature of the work environment which could readily be altered. Removal of discrimination requires removing this kind of barrier, not just more obvious or direct discrimination based on disability. Making changes to ensure equal opportunity for people with a disability is commonly referred to as "reasonable adjustment" or "reasonable accommodation".

There is no comprehensive list of the types of adjustments required to remove discrimination against people with disability in employment; however, some examples are given below. Each case needs to be considered separately. It is important to remember that most workers with disability will not require significant adjustments.

Recruitment

If an applicant with disability is shortlisted the person running the recruitment process should call the applicant and ask if any physical adjustments need to be made to the selection activity, what sort of equipment they might need, and what they already have that they may bring along with them to the selection activity.

In some instances a reasonable adjustment may mean that the nature of the selection activity is changed slightly, for example by:

  • allowing an applicant with a visual disability more time to complete assessment centre tests
  • ensuring that the testing centre is accessible to persons using a wheelchair

Some agencies may like to put in place arrangements encouraging applicants to disclose their disability and access an alternative application process.

Supporting staff

Agencies are encouraged, in consultation with employees with disability, and with the assistance of an organisation specialising in placing people with disability in employment, to undertake an assessment of the adaptive technology requirements of existing employees to ensure their needs are being met. That assessment should examine all the reasonable adjustments employees with disability need to ensure their equal participation in the workplace.

Reasonable adjustment for people with disability may include:

  • adjustments to the workplace or work-related premises, equipment or facilities, including provision of additional equipment or facilities
  • adjustments to work-related communications or information provision, including the form or format in which information is available
  • adjustments to work-related rules or other adjustments to enable a person to comply with rules as they exist, for example, if staff are required to attend induction training ensure that the room is accessible
  • permitting or facilitating a person to use equipment or assistance provided by the person with disability or by another person or organisation.

Reasonable adjustment also applies to Indigenous applicants and for Indigenous people and people with disability may include:

  • adjustments to methods used for testing, assessment or selection e.g. allowing extra time
  • provision of interpreters, readers, attendants or other work-related assistance
  • adjustments to work methods adjustments to work arrangements, including in relation to hours of work and use of leave entitlements
  • providing training to co-workers or supervisors so that they are more sensitive to the needs of Indigenous staff and staff with disability
  • access to training, transfer, acting, trial or higher duties positions, traineeships, or other forms of opportunity to demonstrate or develop capacity in a position

Adaptive technology

Sometimes an employee with disability will need adaptive technology to perform the essential activities of the job. To be fully effective, employees with disability require access to work-related communications and the information necessary to carry out their duties.

The necessary adaptive technologies to ensure access to those communications and information can take the form of:

  • email messaging, voice telephones with adequate volume control, TTYs (text telephones) or the provision of Australian Sign Language (AUSLAN) interpreters or assistive listening systems for an employee who is deaf or hearing-impaired
  • the provision of text material that can be transformed into accessible formats such as large print, Braille or synthetic speech, for an employee who is blind or vision-impaired
  • the provision of voice-activated software such as Dragon, for people with a physical disability.

Nominate a point of contact in your agency

Nominate a point of contact responsible for reasonable adjustment. The point of contact should have access to education and training that allows him/her to identify the reasonable adjustments required by employees with disability.

The point of contact for reasonable adjustment should work with an agency’s disability coordinator or HR staff as well as organisations specialising in placing people with disability in employment, in deciding on the adaptive technologies and other reasonable adjustments that are required. This will ensure that other more appropriate solutions the employee may not be familiar with are not overlooked. Better practice suggests, wherever possible, these decisions are made and the necessary equipment is in place before the employee commences work.