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Answers to frequently asked questions about disability accommodation

Topics covered in this FAQ include:
The basics
What is reasonable accommodation?
Requesting an accommodation
Canceling an accommodation
Other case information

About the basics:

Q: What is a "public disability accommodation"?

A: It is assistance that allows a person with a disability to have the equal opportunity to access and participate in the Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC) programs and to use DWC services. Disability accommodations can be provided for individuals using DWC services and programs, including services provided by the district offices of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board ("WCAB"), the Retraining and Return to Work Unit, the Information and Assistance Unit, and the Disability Evaluation Unit.

Q: Aren't all injured workers disabled?

A: Not all injured workers are considered "disabled" under the law for accommodation purposes. To be considered disabled in California, you need to have an impairment that limits a major life activity. Generally, the impairment needs to be permanent, but some temporary impairments may qualify for accommodations.

If you are not sure if you are disabled under the law or think you qualify as disabled and would like to request an accommodation, please contact the district office disability accommodation coordinator in the WCAB district office where your case is filed.

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What is reasonable accommodation?

Q: What kind of assistance will DWC provide?

A: DWC will consider all requests for accommodation but will only provide a reasonable accommodation. DWC has the right to determine what is a reasonable accommodation and which reasonable accommodation can be provided.

Examples of reasonable accommodations include, but are not limited to:

  • Assistive listening devices
  • Wheelchairs
  • Ergonomic chairs
  • Audio tape recordings
  • Voice amplification system
  • Computerized translation services
  • A"reader" for visually-impaired persons
  • Enlargement of documents for visually-impaired persons
  • Magnifiers
  • Braille
  • Sign-language interpreters

Other reasonable accommodations may be available. Please note that accommodation requests will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Q: What kind of assistance is not considered reasonable?

A: It depends on each situation. Generally, the provision of personal services or personal aids, such as legal assistance, a personal assistant, assistance with personal matters, providing eyeglasses or personal hearing aids are not considered reasonable accommodations. The reasonableness of an accommodation is determined in light of the situation and circumstances of each request.

Q: Where can I receive a disability accommodation?

A: DWC provides accommodations at its offices and facilities.

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About requesting an accommodation:

Q: How do I request a disability accommodation?

A: You have several choices:

  • You may make a request by filling out the form, "Request for Accommodations by Persons with Disabilities," DWC form 5. After completing the form, please mail or fax it to the district office disability accommodation coordinator where your workers' compensation case is filed.
  • You can also make your request in person or over the phone to the district office disability accommodation coordinator where your case is filed.
  • If you cannot reach the district office disability accommodation coordinator, you may give your request to the DWC statewide disability accommodation coordinator.

Q: What information do I need to provide to request a disability accommodation?

A: For each request, please state the disability or impairment for which you need an accommodation, what accommodation you are requesting, and the date and time you would need the accommodation. Please submit a separate request for each date you need an accommodation, if you need an accommodation on more than one date.

Q: How far in advance should I request an accommodation?

A: As soon as possible. If you are requesting a sign-language interpreter, videoconferencing, or a computerized translation service as an accommodation, we ask that you give us at least 5 to 10 business days notice before the date of the event (such as a court appearance in your case), to provide DWC with sufficient time to arrange for a reasonable accommodation.

Q: Am I limited to just one accommodation or request?

A: No. If you need more than one accommodation, you may request additional accommodations. If you need repeat or additional accommodations in the future, please submit a timely and separate accommodation request each time you need an accommodation.

Q: When will I receive the accommodation?

A: If your accommodation request is granted, the disability coordinator will inform you when you will receive your accommodation. Unless you are told otherwise by the disability coordinator, an accommodation is granted only for a specific time and date.

Q: How do I get my accommodation?

A: Please arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled hearing or court appearance and ask for the district office disability coordinator who will provide you with your requested accommodation.

Q: Should I confirm my accommodation before the scheduled hearing?

A: Yes, it would be helpful if you do confirm that you still need the accommodation for your court appearance, although it is not required. If possible, please contact the district office disability accommodation coordinator before your court appearance to confirm that you still need the accommodation.

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About canceling an accommodation:

Q: What if I need to cancel or reschedule my accommodation?

A: If you decide you no longer need the accommodation or need to cancel or reschedule the date you need the accommodation, please contact the disability coordinator as soon as possible to make the necessary arrangements.

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About other case information:

Q: What if I have other questions about my workers' compensation case?

A: For other information about your case, contact the Information and Assistance officer in the WCAB district office where your case is filed.

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August 2011