Remote work made life easier for many people with disabilities. They want the option to stay

Joanna Hanaka, a disability rights advocate with conditions that make her allergic to many fragrances, said working from home allows her to avoid exposure to major allergens.

(CNN)Gabe Moses prefers to work his eight-hour shift for a call center while lying on his stomach, resting on a mattress set out on the floor of his apartment.

Moses uses a wheelchair because of conditions including dysautonomia, which arises from a dysfunctional nervous system and can affect major organs, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. A connective tissue disorder, EDS can cause chronic pain, muscle weakness and ruptured blood vessels.
Before the pandemic, commuting to work and sitting up for hours at a time left Moses in pain and so fatigued, he sometimes lost his ability to speak. But when he started working remotely while lying down, he discovered his job was easier. He had energy at the end of the day to spend time with his wife, watch movies, read books or even take his dog for a walk by tying her leash to his wheelchair.
    Gabe Moses, who uses a wheelchair, said working remotely during the pandemic helped him have higher energy.
    At the beginning of the pandemic, Moses said his company made him sign a document that claimed it only offered remote work as an emergency measure, and that it could call him back in person at any time.
      Now, as the US continues its uneven reopening and some companies expect employees to return to offices, Moses, who lives in an apartment in New York City, worries the option will be taken away.
      "It's really terrifying to think about going back to that life," Moses told CNN. "Coming back (from work), I would just go right to bed."

      Accessibility is not one-size-fits-all

        In the United States, 26% of adults have some kind of disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For many, remote work has been more accessible as offices often lack situation-specific accommodations.
        These can include wheelchair ramps and certain types of accommodating furniture, safety from allergens, and easy access to medications and bathrooms.
        The National Organization on Disability supports flexible work policies above all, said Charles Catherine, associate director of special projects for the organization.
        "There will be companies where people will have very little choice, and there will be a lot of peer pressure," Catherine said. "And there will be other companies for which work culture is a top priority, where there will be more leeway. And so the question is, do you want to be an employer of choice?"
        Catherine, who is blind, said he was frustrated at the pandemic's start because digital accommodations such as closed captioning for online meetings and software that read text out loud were rare. Many companies improved software accessibility over the course of the last year and a half, and Catherine now prefers working from home. But what he went through underscores the varied experiences of workers with disabilities. Working from home may benefit some, but it isn't a one-size-fits-all solution.
        Not to mention, there are plenty of jobs that can't be done remotely. Those who couldn't work from home have had to spend the last year and a half battling an impossible choice: risking their life by going into work, or not working at all. Others have seen their jobs eliminated altogether.