Reasonable accomodation


as a discrimination dimension in law.
Human Rights requirements for the General Equal Treatment Act (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz)

- Fact sheet on the research project -

  • Reasonable accomodation schemes serve to prevent the discrimination against persons with disabilities. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and European Law oblige the countries, their legal systems, societies, public institutions and private entities to put these arrangements into place. This obligation demonstrates that the non-discrimination of persons with disabilities is not limited to negative obligations to refrain, but establishes concrete obligations to act.
  • While the German law does not know reasonable accommodation as a legal concept in its own right, individual provisions in the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG) and Books V and IX of the Social Code (SGB V and IX) include obligations in the realms of health care, work, education and other forms of social participation that combine to secure reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities.

  • As a matter of fact, the German term "angemessene Vorkehrungen" is based on the equality law in Anglo-Saxon countries.  Introduced in the USA in the early 1970s as "reasonable accommodation", it is known as "reasonable adjustment" in the United Kingdom. Whatever the term used, both legal systems share the definition of the measures required under equality law to compensate for a person's disadvantage in the world of work on the grounds of their disability or faith.

  • The concept follows from the aim and purpose of equality law which is to secure all persons with a disability their autonomous and full social participation on an equal basis with others, and specifically, to overcome the previously prevalent exclusion from the social space of persons with disabilities and their marginalisation in special places such as homes, workshops or remedial schools. Specifically, these efforts aim to achieve their inclusion. Inclusion is based on the philosophy that disability is a manifestation of the human condition and merits protection for the sake of diversity.

  • The concept of disability is abstract and dynamic: abstract because it is defined by societal conditions and dynamic because illnesses can progress to disabilities and, conversely, the advances of medicine and technology have the potential to remove social disadvantages on grounds of physical, psychological and sensory impairments.

  • Reasonable accommodations are measures taken in response to a single specific disability to effectively ensure the person's social participation.  This term depends on three sets of circumstances, specifically, the society in which a person with a disability lives, their concrete circumstances of life, and finally, the conditions under which they can participate in the concrete society.

  • The duty of private individuals, in particular, to provide for reasonable accommodation to protect other private individuals with a disability is restricted by the limit of sacrifice. However, this duty does apply if private individuals receive public funds to pay for the arrangements put in place. The limit of sacrifice is a free-standing cap on the duty to provide for reasonable accommodation; it cannot be derived from the progressive achievement clause (Art. 4 UN CRPD), although it shares the same basic concept.