If I Have a Disability, Can I Be a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)?

If I Have a Disability, Can I Be a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)?

Please explore our website for resources in regard to education, advocacy, and work. First, it depends on whether you are qualified and on your disability. For example, if you need to take a blood pressure but can’t hear it, you can achieve the same goal using an automated machine. If you need to read an information sheet regarding personal care for a patient but have vision impairment, the sheet could be provided in larger print. The CNA curriculum also requires that students be able to demonstrate lifting and positioning, which could be addressed in this same way. If you have restrictions on your ability to lift, you could be held accountable for verbalizing the knowledge underlying that task and faculty could help you identify other options, such as seeking physical assistance or task-trading with a peer.

Coursework and certification are considered separate entities. You should contact your State Board of Nursing to determine what accommodations are allowed on the certification exam at the completion of your program.

On a practical note, you need to remember that education and employment are covered by different rules. People with disabilities are adept at many things (with or without adaptations and accommodations) that others might not think they could do. That said, think about the daily work of the CNA. It is physically and emotionally demanding, and employers may be unwilling to accommodate such things as inability to lift patients, an integral and substantial part of the CNA role that occurs many times each day.

Disclaimer: The National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities (NOND) does not offer legal advice but NOND does offer resources to help you understand your rights, protections, and responsibilities within various Disability Rights Laws.

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