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Insurance company MD: Accommodations are a way of life

He is associate medical director at one of the nation's largest insurance companies, but he has a perspective on disabilities and employer accommodations that might surprise a few of our readers. Dr. Michael Lacroix recently wrote an article in which he described the moaning and groaning he has heard from employers unhappy with their obligations under the Family Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

He tries to get employers to look at their legal obligations from a different point of view. For instance, he notes that accommodations have changed over time. He uses eyeglasses as an example.

Though the device was invented in the 13th century, it wasn't until the 19th century that they were available to working Americans. Today, you can get glasses made in less than an hour, and no one thinks twice about folks with glasses doing virtually every kind of work, from flying airliners to performing surgery.

Glasses are no longer considered an accommodation, Lacroix notes.

Think, too, of the accommodations made regularly in schools today for children with attention deficit disorder. Merely allowing the child to sit near the teacher can often be enough to allow him or her to do well in classroom settings.

He writes that "in a very real sense, the ADA has not created a new world of accommodation, it has merely moved the ball a little further down the field." He said that when employers look at accommodations as a regular part of life, they might feel a bit better about doing their small part to advance society.

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