Retain Ability

Disability is a mismatch in the interaction between a person and their environment, accommodations help to break down barriers to ability. Universally shift the mindset of your organization to ask the question, "What do your employees need to succeed?"

Educate yourself and your organization: find great tools from Discover Ability Network.


Accommodations are reasonable adjustments made at any stage of the employment journey that allow a person with a disability to apply for jobs, interview and fully perform the duties of a position. Accommodations level the playing field and help people reach the same outcomes as their peers by using a modified process. (Discover Ability Network)

There are many myths and negative biases associated with the concepts around accommodations. In reality, accommodations are shifts in attitudes and processes and the workplace environment that allow an employee to maximize their ability while performing the essential duties of their role. Workplace performance standards are upheld or surpassed but tasks may be completed through a different process.

The employer and employee have a shared responsibility once disclosure about the need for accommodations has happened.

Key elements of supporting accommodation include having an implementation plan, confidential communication, and evaluation.

Employers must make a significant effort to support accommodation requests. There are many tools and resources to assist employers with supporting accommodations.

An employer may not ask about the nature of a diagnosis.

Once accommodations are implemented, employees must meet the performance standards and job requirements outlined.

Accommodations enhance productivity: some myth busting facts about accommodations

  • For every $1.00 invested in an accommodation there is a $28.69 return on investment
  • Most accommodations cost less than $500
  • Employees with disabilities tend to have better attendance records than their non-disabled co-workers

Examples of accommodations

According to Statistics Canada, the most common workplace accommodations in 2019 were flexible work arrangements (27%), modified workstations (15%), and human/technical supports (6%) and most cost less than $500.

Changes to the workplace, processes, and tasks, and providing accessible tools and technologies are all accommodations that can happen in the workplace.

Costs of accommodations

Most accommodations provide an excellent cost/benefit ratio.

Find information on typical accommodations in the A to Z of Disabilities and Accommodations.

Accessible Onboarding

Through accessible onboarding, you can support ability from the start with these ideas:

  • Repeat an invitation for accommodation after the offer of employment is accepted as some employees may be fearful they will not get hired until after the job offer is signed
  • Ensure onboarding information is provided in a format accessible to the employee
  • If the employee requests accommodations, it is a good idea to complete an Individual Accommodation Plan (IAP) that includes strengths and needed supports (Human Resources should be involved)
  • Provide discussed and agreed upon accommodations as quickly as possible and share with the direct supervisor
  • Create an emergency plan with the employee if they indicate a need
  • Keep personal information disclosed confidential and notify the employee it will remain confidential
  • Provide mentor or affinity group access (a good practice for all new employees) and key personal for support
  • Ensure new employees feel welcome and included in activities and social gatherings
  • Training should include position training, organizational culture, workplace safety and accessibility training for ALL employees
  • Ensure employees understand job requirements and support them to meet performance standards
  • Provide ongoing constructive feedback through regular meetings and adjust accommodations as needed
  • Address issues as they arise and celebrate excellence

Other Supports Through Employment

Beneficial to ALL employees, other retention strategies involve:

  • Robust onboarding
  • Comprehensive benefits
  • Flexible working arrangements
  • Establishment of resource groups such as a disability-focused resource group
  • Networking/team building opportunities
  • Healthy workplace culture


hirewesternuAbility provides supports and education for employers working with Western.
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Discover Ability Network (2020). Building an Inclusive Workplace

AbleTo (2019). Bust myths and find talent

Statistics Canada (2019). Reports on Disability and Accessibility in Canada, 2017: Workplace accommodations for employees with disabilities in Canada, 2017 (No. 89-654-X). Ottawa, ON.