Performance solutions such as the use of a screen reader for an employee who has a seeing disability may also be considered an accommodation. Keeping in mind that such a solution is invaluable to the performance and productivity of the employee. An employer may or may not be required to provide a performance solution for the employee based on a Federal law entitled, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990,or the “ADA”.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) requires employers with 15 or more employees to make reasonable accommodations in the workplace for qualified employees with disabilities. AT can be one element of meeting this requirement. In most cases, it is the employer’s responsibility to provide on-site job accommodations for an employee. However, the employee is responsible for providing personal accommodations such as hearing aids, wheelchairs, and personal attendants. Accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis and may not be required when it results in an undue hardship to the employer.
Finding The Right Technology Solution
Accommodations more often than not require creativity but not always a lot of dollars. Most accommodations are in fact simple low or no cost solutions.
A woman with a severe developmental disability worked in an envelope manufacturing facility, operating a machine that stacked boxes. She needed to stack 20 boxes at a time, but could not keep a mental count past 10.
Solution: The employer installed a punch counter and trained the woman to include punching in her routine-tape, stack, punch; tape, stack, punch. As the woman's productivity soared, the employer realized that keeping count is difficult for many people and decided to install counters at other machines.
Situation: A secretary with a back impairment experienced pain when reaching for things such as documents, files, and the phone receiver.
Solution: To reduce the need for reaching, she was provided an adjustable work station, a telephone headset, a copy holder, and a horizontal filing cabinet. For someone who doesn't have back problems, these corrections would still increase productivity as they cause less stress on the body.
Situation: A cashier with diabetes has difficulties standing for long periods during her eight-hour shift.
Solution: By altering her work schedule to allow her breaks and installing an anti-fatigue mat, she is able to work as a productive cashier.
Situation: A construction contractor has a prosthetic arm making it hard to complete required paper work at the job site.
Solution: The contractor uses a modified clipboard with PVC tubing so he can slide it over his prosthesis and brace it to his stomach to fill out inventory forms.
Situation: An individual with an intellectual disability has a job working in the produce department of a grocery store. He often has difficulty remembering how to do various tasks, which jeopardizes his productivity thus limiting his work hours.
Solution: A simple low tech cueing solution was fabricated out of cardboard and laminated that allowed visual cueing to assist the employee in performing various job functions such as when to remove old produce and procedures for stocking new produce. This solution worked so well that it improved the employee’s productivity and allowed for the employee to work full time.
Situation: A 19-year-old male with a hearing impairment is completing a special education program at his school. The program focuses on workplace skills. As part of the program, the young man works at a local convenience store. His supervisor is very happy with the young man’s performance as a cashier, although the supervisor mentioned to the young man’s job coach that sometimes he is not able to tell when new clients are entering the store. This may cause safety issues for him and other customers in the store. His job coach assisted him, with tasks such as prompting him when a customer is entering or leaving the store. This eventually jeopardized the young man’s employment at the convenience store because of a reduction in the “job coaching hours” available to him. It became clear that without coaching support, the young man would not be able to maintain his job.
Solution: After some meetings with school staff, VR personnel, and his current employer, a low tech assistive technology device helped him to perform his job independently. The AT solution used is an alert system, which consists of a light bulb that blinks every time a customer enters or exits the store. This low cost and simple visual alert allows the young man to acknowledge the presence of a customer in the store. With the support of this assistive technology device, the young man remained at his job, his job coach was able to reduce his role, and the young man is able to work independently.
Database of Accommodation Solutions
Searchable Online Accommodation Resource (SOAR)
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) addresses issues pertaining to accessibility and is nationally recognized as a prime resource for employers. JAN maintains a database of simple to complex accommodation solutions that can be searched. To Access SOAR, click on this external link: http://askjan.org/soar