In identifying an essential function to determine if an individual with a disability is qualified, the employer should focus on the purpose of the function and the result to be accomplished, rather than the manner in which the function presently is performed. An individual with a disability may be qualified to perform the function if an accommodation would enable this person to perform the job in a different way, and the accommodation does not impose an undue hardship. Although it may be essential that a function be performed, frequently it is not essential that it be performed in a particular way (EEOC, 1992).
The process of developing job descriptions often sheds light on the nature of a job as well as suggests that there are alternative methods of performing essential job tasks. Job analysis may help encourage management and staff to work together in identifying and streamlining the essential and marginal job functions.