The everyday ADA: The influence of requesters' assessments on decisions to ask for needed accommodation

Date of Completion

January 2001


Business Administration, Management|Psychology, Industrial




The Americans with Disabilities Act grants the right to workplace accommodations. While accommodations are often essential to assure equal employment opportunities, there is evidence that people with disabilities often withhold requests for needed accommodations. This dissertation examines the information processing that proceeds requesters' decisions to make, or withhold, requests. Specifically, I examine the influence of accommodation attributes and requesters' assessments of the personal consequences of asking for accommodation on requesters' decisions. First, in-depth interviews with a small group of people who are deaf and people who are hard-of-hearing were used to gain an understanding of the phenomena and combined with extant accommodation, help seeking and planned behavior theory to develop a model and hypotheses. Second, data from 238 surveys was analyzed using logistic regression analysis to test the hypotheses. Third, follow-up interviews were conducted to further illuminate findings. Accommodation attributes were hypothesized to both influence requesters' decisions directly and indirectly through their influence on requesters' assessments. Based on the initial interviews, and the help seeking and accommodation literatures, three specific assessments were hypothesized to be of particular importance: compliance, personal cost and normative appropriateness. As hypothesized, compliance—a requester's assessment regarding the likelihood of compliance with accommodation requests, and normative appropriateness—requester's assessment of what others think they should do—were both highly significant predictors. However, personal cost—concerns regarding inequity, indebtedness, loss of freedom/restrictions and damage to one's public image—was not significant. Based on the initial interviews, and the help seeking and accommodation literatures, three specific accommodation attributes were hypothesized to influence requesters' decisions: effectiveness, monetary cost and ease of use. As hypothesized, effectiveness was a strong predictor of decisions. In addition to directly influencing requesters' decisions, effectiveness also influenced requesters' compliance and normative appropriateness assessments. Contrary to expectations monetary cost and ease of use were not significant predictors of decisions. However, while these variables did not have a direct influence both, were significant predictors of requesters' assessments, and thus, had an important indirect influence. ^