Title I of the ADA, which deals with employment, says that job applicants have to be qualified to perform the “essential functions” of a position, with or without reasonable accommodation. This has led to many employers listing the “essential functions” of a position as part of the job description.
My previous employer listed the essential functions of a software engineer as:
The applicant must have near vision, distance vision, peripheral vision, and color vision. The applicant must be able to type. The applicant must be able to speak and hear. The applicant must be able to lift 50 pounds.
What incredible bullshit! A software engineer does not need “near vision, distance vision, peripheral vision, color vision” or any other kind of vision. We’re talking about programming computers, not catching a ball in left field. A software engineer needs to be able to obtain information from a computer. A software engineer does not need to be able to type, s/he needs to be able to input data to a computer. A software engineer does not need to be able to speak or hear, s/he needs to be able to communicate with co-workers and customers. And in what universe does a company pay premiere wages to a software developer to carry boxes around?
Here’s the nursing student version of the essential functions battle.