Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I Hate One-way Streets

Currently, I am working on my Masters in Communications Management at Temple University in Philadelphia. I absolutely love my program. Most of the focus of my program, though, is on organizational management and communication. I am only half-way through my program and I still have much to learn. The basic tenant, though, of successful organizations is…COMMUNICATION! Who would have guessed, right? Good communication is also necessary for programs and pieces of programs to work. I didn’t think this was a novel concept but after spending some time working on a few reasonable accommodation projects for my internship, perhaps mentioning the necessity of communication for successful acquisition (or from the manager’s side, implementation) of reasonable accommodations would not just be the statement of the obvious after all. This may also seem like I am being captain obvious again but if you search through the information I searched through this past week you would realize that what I am about to state is not as apparent as it should be. Communication requires more than one person. It is a two-way street.

The EEOC and JAN have both put out guidelines on how to go through the accommodation process. Both organizations use the title of “The Interactive Process” when discussing how to go through the reasonable accommodation process. This interactive process includes the following steps: recognizing an accommodation request, gathering information, exploring accommodation options, choosing an accommodation, implementing an accommodation and, finally, monitoring an accommodation.  

Now, reading those steps, you would think they could be addressed to both the manager responsible for implementation and the employee responsible for notifying and obtaining. They certainly could but, sadly, they are not. In doing these projects this week I realized that pretty much everything out there regarding the reasonable accommodation process in both the public and private sector is addressed to the employer not the employee. I struggled to find a list of resources for employees on how to go through the interactive process at work.

 College websites tend to have information for students on how to approach their professors but there is very little that addresses this in the workplace. I’m sorry but I feel like there needs to be more out there for employees. I know when I first started work I didn’t even know I could ask for reasonable accommodations; never mind knowing what to ask for and how to ask for it. JAN does provide many resources for employees but before my first Federal internship in 2009 I didn’t even know JAN existed. I have to write a thesis for my Masters program and I think I am going to try and tackle this problem; the problem of the reasonable accommodation process seeming to be taught as a one-way street.

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