Note: This is general information on how to obtain services. Each Mission Area/Agency has their own processes and procedures for requesting Reasonable Accommodation or Personal Assistance Services. Please contact the specific USDA Mission Area/Agency or visit their website for details.
Reasonable Accommodation and Personal Assistance Services Process
Applicants or Employees may request reasonable accommodation for assistance, when applying or competing for a job, performing a job, or ensuring equal access to the benefit of employment, due to their medical condition. Requests for reasonable accommodation may be made either in writing or orally at any time during the application process or while employed. Requests for personal assistance services may be made either in writing or orally at any time by an employee with a targeted disability. Requests for reasonable accommodation can be submitted to the employee’s supervisor, manager, Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator (RAC), Human Resources office, or contact identified in a vacancy announcement. Additionally, employees with targeted disabilities can contact their supervisor, manager, and Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator (RAC) to request personal assistance services.
- Receipt of a request will be confirmed in writing within five business days.
- The Mission Area/Agency or Staff Office RAC will request medical documentation, if necessary, within ten business days of receiving the request.
- Once a request for an accommodation is received, the employee/applicant and the employee’s supervisor or Hiring Official will engage in an interactive process in a timely manner.
- The supervisor, manager, or RAC must approve or deny requests for Reasonable Accommodations and Personal Assistance Services within thirty business days, absent extenuating circumstances.
- If the reasonable accommodation or personal assistance services cannot be provided immediately, an interim accommodation will be provided that allows the employee to perform some or all the essential functions of their job if it is possible to do so without imposing undue hardship on the Department.
- Interactive Process
Once a request for an accommodation is received, the employee/applicant and the employee’s supervisor or Hiring Official will engage in an interactive process to determine what the individual needs and identify appropriate and effective reasonable accommodation(s) and personal assistance services. The purpose of the interactive process is to determine what, if any, accommodation should be provided. Actively engaging in the interactive process will ensure timely and efficient processing of Reasonable Accommodation and Personal Assistance Services requests.
- Examples of Reasonable Accommodations for Employees
The reasonable accommodations provided to employees are decided on a case-by-case basis; however, below are examples of reasonable accommodations.
- Equipment such as a larger or specialized computer monitor for an employee with a visual impairment or a motorized scooter to help an employee navigate a large office building or other facilities;
- Making existing facilities physically accessible such as installing doors that automatically open and close;
- Screen magnification software, voice activation software, readers;
- Sign language interpreters;
- Workplace changes such as lowering the paper towel dispenser in an employee restroom or adjusting the lighting at an employee’s workstation;
- Modified work schedules;
- Use of Leave such as advanced leave or leave without pay;
- Modifying supervisory methods such as communicating in writing rather than orally;
- Job coaching;
- Travel-related accommodations may include requests for premium class airfare, larger hotel rooms, special conveyances, etc.; and
Reasonable accommodations are not provided to care for family members with disabilities.
- Examples of Reasonable Accommodations for Applicants
Below are examples of reasonable accommodations for applicants of positions within the USDA.
- Readers and sign language interpreters; and
- Accessible locations for recruitment, interviews, testing, and other components of the application process.
- Examples of Personal Assistance Services
Activities which may require Personal Assistance Services include, but are not limited to:
- Removing and putting on clothing;
- Using the restroom;
- Getting in and out of a vehicle at the worksite; and
- Moving around the building.
Personal Assistance Services does not include performing medical procedures or monitoring, such as administering injections, monitoring blood pressure, or helping an individual with a targeted disability perform job-related tasks.