All employers should “reasonably accommodate the needs of people with disabilities.” This is both a non-discriminatory and an affirmative action requirement in South Africa. The aim of this accommodation is to enable any person to perform the essential functions of their job. Reasonable accommodation, which refers to modifications or alterations to the way a job is normally performed, should make it possible for a suitably qualified person with a disability to perform as everyone else. The type of reasonable accommodation required would depend on the job and its essential functions, the work environment and the person’s specific impairment.
On the 13th of October I Can! Durban North Academy started a new class on a Business Practice learnership, with 12 learners having substantially varying physical disabilities. So how did we reasonably accommodate these learners?
We had ramps built for easy access into the academy; an accessible toilet placed in a convenient location and had special desks made to accommodate people requiring wheelchair access. We also had training material printed on A3 pages with much bigger font for our visually impaired learners.
We all need to be prepared in the event of emergencies, so it was also essential to install a fire alarm that works on a system of lights, to alert our hearing impaired learners in the event of a fire or other emergency.
All these minor adjustments were made to reasonably accommodate ‘people with disabilities’. We would like to encourage every employer to look at their worksites and see what can be reasonably done to ensure our disabled colleagues in South Africa are also able to contribute towards the prosperity of this beautiful country.
Operations Manager – KZN
Natascha Mc Allister