Reasonable Accommodations

The Department of the Interior (DOI) and its Bureaus/Offices provide reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals (employees and applicants for employment) with disabilities, unless doing so would cause an undue hardship. DOI provides Departmental guidance on reasonable accommodations in Personnel Bulletin (PB) 21-03 Processing Requests for Reasonable Accommodation for Individuals with Disabilities.

Although many individuals with disabilities can apply for and perform jobs without any reasonable accommodation, workplace barriers may keep others from performing jobs which they could do with some form of accommodation. These barriers may be physical obstacles such as inaccessible facilities, or they may be procedures or rules such as when work is performed, when breaks are taken, or how job tasks are performed. Reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment or the way in which work is performed that enables a qualified individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform job duties, or enjoy benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by similarly situated employees without disabilities.

The goals of PB 21-03 are to ensure:

  1. Prompt and effective accommodation solutions are provided to foster maximum productivity and performance, equal access to employment and the workplace environment, and create an atmosphere where employees can fulfill the mission of DOI.
  2. Qualified employees and applicants for employment participate in a transparent and communicative manner throughout the reasonable accommodation process.  
  3. Requests for reasonable accommodation (including interim and alternative accommodations) are processed within established timeframes.

DOI strives to hire, retain, and advance individuals with disabilities in our workplace.

A flow chart of the reasonable accommodations phases includes five phases: initiation, consideration, decision, reconsideration, and appeal

Examples of Reasonable Accommodations
Reasonable Not Reasonable
  • Making existing facilities readily accessible to and usable by a person with a disability
  • Job restructuring (does not include changing the essential duties of the position), including part-time or modified work schedules
  • Acquisition or modification of equipment or devices
  • Appropriate adjustment or modification of examinations (does not include changing examination questions)
  • Provision of readers and interpreters
  • Telework (and other work schedule flexibilities)
  • Accommodations for meetings, conferences, training and seminars (e.g., interpreters, specific seating arrangements, tables that accommodate wheelchairs)
  • Reassignment (as a last resort)
  • Eliminating essential job functions (i.e., fundamental duties of the position)
  • Lowering standards (qualitative or quantitative) that are applied uniformly to employees with and without disabilities (though a reasonable accommodation may be provided to enable an employee with a disability to meet the standard)
  • Creating a new job or position
  • Allowing or ignoring inappropriate conduct
  • Providing personal use items such as prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs, prescription eyeglasses, personal hearing aids, or similar devices, which are needed to accomplish daily activities both on and off the job