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In general, mediation providers should be proactive regarding accessibility, for example holding mediations in physically accessible locations and ensuring that mediation staff understand basic ADA accessibility provisions such as the right to enter with a service animal.
However, individuals will need to request accommodation in cases where the mediation provider will not otherwise know that any policy modifications or services requiring advance arrangements are needed (e.g., sign language interpreter, materials in alternative format, special break schedule during mediation sessions, or other arrangements that might require advance planning or modifying usual procedures).
Second, in some cases presented for mediation - whether or not the case arises under the ADA or Rehabilitation Act - parties or their representatives may request a reasonable accommodation for the mediation process itself.
Mediators also have raised questions about special considerations that may arise when mediating employment cases alleging discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act).
There are two basic ways that disability issues may arise in mediation concerning EEO disputes.
Sometimes a mediation participant will not request accommodation until the mediation has started.
In those instances, the mediation provider should nevertheless address the request, and proceed to determine whether and what accommodation can be provided. An individual seeking accommodation should advise the mediation provider what accommodation is needed and why.(Of course, the mediator may advise the individual regarding her right to bring a representative, such as an attorney or family member, to serve as an advocate during the mediation.) When a mediation program has an intake or screening process before the case is referred to a mediator, the intake process should include: Referral sources and intake personnel should ensure that mediation providers are advised in advance when their cases involve parties with disabilities who need accommodation, and when any accessibility arrangements have already been made or any process changes or other accommodations have been requested.