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Blind worker sues Arc of Onondaga for disability discrimination

A woman who works for Arc of Onondaga is suing the community-based organization for alleged disability discrimination. The organization provides services for people who have developmental disabilities and a woman who works for the organization says Arc failed to accommodate her disability. She says that after she requested a reasonable accommodation, she was demoted.

The issue came up in 2009 after the organization installed new software for its computer systems. The woman was working as a rehabilitation supervisor at the time. She is blind, and says that the new software was not compatible with the adaptive software program that she uses. Her program reads the content displayed on the computer screen and relays that information in audio form.

She brought the issue to the attention of people who were above her in the organization. She says that instead of seeking a solution to allow her to use the new software, she was forced to watch training videos on how to operate the software with a mouse. She could not see the videos, and cannot see the cursor when using a mouse. The woman says that she was demoted. She is now suing the organization for disability bias under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The ADA generally requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for qualified workers with a disability to allow the workers to enjoy equal employment opportunities. The requirement of providing accommodations may only be avoided if the employer can prove it would cause the employer undue hardship. But, employers also have a duty to assess the situation in the first place.

Possible reasonable accommodations may involve adding a modification to the work environment. That could include making facilities accessible, acquiring specialized equipment or modifying equipment in the workplace. The issues and potential accommodations of each case are evaluated under the specific circumstances of the case.

Source: The Post-Standard, “Blind employee sues Syracuse agency for disabled, claims disability discrimination,” John O'Brien, Jan. 25, 2014

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