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Workplace adjustments

When you are thinking about the job you would like to do, it is important for you to consider if you will need any changes to enable you to work effectively. These changes are known as 'workplace adjustments' or 'reasonable adjustments'. You may find that you need adjustments for your job interview and/or once you are in the job.

There are many people with a disability who are successful in their chosen careers and have achieved their goals by planning innovative and simple workplace adjustments. The key to a success is to plan early, to know yourself, and to have a confident and realistic approach when looking at the effects your disability will have on your ability to do the job. In today's modern workplace, advances in technology and workplace flexibility mean that often simple modifications or changes to the way things are done make it possible for you to be successful. Once you begin researching you may be surprised by the workplace adjustments that are possible.

In planning the adjustments that may be required, remember to:

  • Be thorough when looking for information about the job you want. Don't make assumptions about whether you can do the tasks required, ask specific questions and seek advice, find out as much as you can about the job requirements and the daily tasks. Once you have this information you will find it easier to decide if you are able to meet the requirements of the job and if you will need any adjustments.
  • Consider how effective any adjustment will be. Will it significantly reduce the disadvantage? Is it practical and affordable? Will it cause much disruption? Also, consider if it will assist others in the workplace.
  • Know your rights under anti-discrimination legislation. Your employer or potential employer, where it is necessary and reasonable to do so, should make adjustments to accommodate the effects of your disability at work. For further information read the DDA information in this resource.
  • Play an active role in discussing arrangements with your employer or potential employer. If need be, encourage your employer to speak to a professional in providing work related help to people with a disability. There is assistance available for employers seeking information and advice. For further information read information for employers in this website.
  • Think about whether you will choose to disclose your disability at work or not, keeping in mind that if your employer is not aware of your disability they will not be able to provide the support if it is needed. For further information read the information on disclosure in this website.
  • Consider getting professional advice about your specific circumstances, the career you are interested in and the types of workplace adjustments that may be possible. To find out where to get advice visit the career advice section in this website.
  • Talk to people with a disability about their experiences with workplace adjustment, particularly those working in your chosen field who may be able to give you a good insight into the possibilities.

What workplace adjustments are possible?

Most commonly workplace adjustments are either changes to the physical environment or adjustments to work practices. Keep in mind that simple solutions can often be found by thinking outside the square and exploring the possibilities. To get you started here are a few examples:

  • Changing recruitment and selection procedures - for example providing a sign language interpreter, or making interview question available in a different format.
  • Modifying work premises - for example making ramps, modifying toilets or providing flashing lights
  • Changes to job design, work schedules or other work practices - for example flexible working times, working from another location, rescheduling meeting times or meal breaks.
  • Modifying equipment - for example lowering a workbench, providing an enlarged computer screen or changing communication systems.

Useful websites

Negotiating Changes in the Workplace to Meet your Needs: Education to employment website
An NDCO Web page that provides extensive information for people with a disability, to assist in negotiations with employers or prospective employers about making some changes to accommodate their needs. It also has a useful 10 step plan for workplace adjustments.

'Choosing Your Path. Disclosure: It's A Personal Decision'
This resource has been developed for students and employees with disabilities and also for employers, educators and support services. The resource provides information about:

  • options and pathways a person with a disability has when deciding to disclose their disability including considerations in relation to workplace adjustments
  • the benefits and disadvantages of disclosing, as well as some key considerations to achieving effective disclosure
  • the rights, roles and responsibilities of employers, educators and support services when a person discloses a disability in post secondary education and employment

JobAccess website
This Australian government website provides advice on every stage of employment, including information and advice on implementing appropriate modifications and adjustments to your workspace and how to negotiate these changes with your employer.

myfuture website
This website is a joint initiative of the Australian, State and Territory governments and is a good resource to find information on occupation profiles, job seeking tips, articles, videos and more. You can also search for courses and scholarships in your area.

Reasonable adjustments: Australian Network on Disability
Australian Employers Network on Disability is a member funded organisation that promotes and supports businesses that encourage people with a disability as employees, customers and suppliers.

National Disability Coordination Officer Program LogoWestern Sydney University