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Personal Assistance Services

In appropriate circumstances the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) may provide Personal Assistance Services (PAS). PAS can be defined as people or services that assist a person with a physical, sensory, mental, or cognitive disability with tasks that the person would perform for him or herself if he or she did not have a disability. In general, these may include assistance with personal care (such as eating, toileting), assisting with physical tasks, and cognitive tasks such as facilitating communication access with a reader. Each person with a disability has different needs and may require a unique combination of PAS.

In the workplace, PAS is provided as a reasonable accommodation to enable an employee to perform the essential functions of a job. The employer's responsibility for providing reasonable accommodations begins when the employee reaches the job site and concludes when the work day ends. Workplace-related PAS might include, but are not limited to:

  • assistance with filing,
  • retrieving work materials that are out of reach,
  • providing travel assistance for an employee with a mobility impairment, or
  • reading handwritten mail or hardcopy material to an employee with a visual disability.

Skilled medical care, which involves personal use items/services, is not required to be furnished by an employer in the workplace per the Rehabilitation Act for Federal employees and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for non-Federal workers. At FRA, PAS involving skilled care is provided on a case-by-case basis through the Disability Resource Center (DRC) to qualified employees who would otherwise be prevented from performing the essential functions of their position. The DRC recognizes the sensitive nature of these personal services and will discuss any requests for personal care in a private consultation.

When an employee with a disability makes a request for PAS as an accommodation in the workplace, the interactive accommodation process is initiated. If required, a disability determination must be made, an analysis completed, and an Action Plan developed. If an Action Plan exists for a different type of PA service then what is being asked for or there is a need to make a change to the existing service being provided, then after the analysis has been completed, an Action Plan Addendum will be developed.

The Action Plan/Action Plan Addendum will include frequency, duration and type of tasks to be performed in the most general terms by the PA. Both the employee and his or her supervisor/decision maker must sign the Action Plan/Action Plan Addendum and return it to the DRC prior to the start of PAS. The DRC will order the PAS and provide the employee and supervisor/decision maker with information instructing them on scheduling and canceling services as needed. The vendor will be provided with:

  • employee’s name and contact information,
  • work site location - name and address,
  • start date,
  • end date if applicable,
  • general schedule of services, and
  • general description of tasks to be provided, as agreed upon in the Action Plan/Action Plan Addendum.

The PAS provider will meet with the customer to go over specifics of the individual’s needs, tasks to be performed, and the manner in which tasks are to be performed. The PAS provider will document specific needs for their own information and record-keeping, but will not share such personal information with the DRC or the decision maker.

For more information, please contact the FRA Disability Program Manager at (202) 493-0669 or