Volume 6, Issue 3, Third Quarter, 2008
The JAN E-News is a quarterly online newsletter of the Job Accommodation Network. Its purpose is to keep subscribers informed about low-cost and innovative accommodation approaches; the latest trends in assistive technologies; announcements of upcoming JAN presentations, media events, trainings, and Webcasts; and legislative and policy updates promoting the employment success of people with disabilities.
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- 2008 National Disability Employment Awareness Month
- Don't Miss the JAN SuperTrack (US BLN Annual Conference)
- Employee Conduct and the ADA
- Working with HIV
- Summer Recreation Tools Improve Worker Productivity?
- Assistive Technology Information Technology (ATIA) Leadership Forum on Accessibility
- JAN Exhibit and Training Schedule
- JAN Spanish Services
- Contact JAN
Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announces theme for 2008 National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
America’s People… America’s Talent…America’s Strength!
To read about National Disability Employment Awareness Month and download a poster, go to: http://www.dol.gov/odep/programs/ndeam.htm
2 - Don’t miss the JAN SuperTrack and a special ADA Restoration Act plenary session during the US Business Leadership Network (US BLN) Annual Conference, October 5-8, 2008 in Portland, Oregon.
Please join senior JAN Consultants and invited national experts for this dynamic two-day SuperTrack of trainings designed to effectively increase participants' practical knowledge and skills regarding reasonable accommodation solutions and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). JAN is the nation’s premiere resource for building your inclusive workplace!
Don’t miss this exceptional collaboration between JAN and the US BLN - the nation’s top organizations working to make workplaces inclusive. The 2008 conference promises to provide informational and educational opportunities of the highest quality. The JAN SuperTrack will be one of the five concurrent educational tracks to be offered. JAN session topics include:
ADA Process: Hold on Tight . . . - Beth Loy, Linda Carter Batiste presenting.
Hold on tight to your seat! JAN shares practical steps to implementing an effective accommodation process. JAN’s Principle Consultants will discuss hot ADA topics and share practical situations and solutions from JAN’s follow-up study.
Practical Approach to Accommodating Employees with Psychiatric Impairments
In this session attendees will learn about common psychiatric impairments and workable solutions to enable the employee to be productive on the job. Actual accommodation solutions from the JAN data base will be shared and active participation will be encouraged.
aHarmony: Facilitating Communication Connections Through Workplace Accommodation - Tracie Saab presenting.
Communication is the key to developing workplace harmony, increasing productivity, and growing a business’s bottom-line. Enhance workplace aHarmony through accommodations that facilitate communication. This session will include communication accommodation solutions that enhance the productivity of employees with all types of sensory impairments.
You're in Final Jeopardy with Motor Impairments - Beth Loy, Linda Carter Batiste, and Don Brandon (Project Director DBTAC NW) presenting
Join accommodation specialists for an interactive game of Accommodation Jeopardy, with a focus on motor-related impairments. Share unique experiences and learn about providing accommodation ideas for individuals with motor impairments (e.g., paraplegia, cancer, heart conditions, carpal tunnel syndrome, back conditions).
In addition, JAN will be providing a Breakfast Plenary Session - ADA Restoration Act
JAN Directors, Anne Hirsh and Lou Orslene, will moderate what promises to be an insightful and dynamic plenary breakfast panel regarding the ADA Restoration Act. The audience will have the opportunity to hear from and then ask questions to a distinguished panel of national experts engaged in the ADA Restoration Act conversation. Panel experts include: Peggy Mastroianni, EEOC; John Kemp, Executive Director of the US BLN; Andy Imparato, American Association of People with Disabilities.
And, Hidden Disabilities & the Workplace A Study on Job Accommodation: Hidden Disabiltiies - Presenters Tracie Saab, Lead Consultant.
Calling upon the results of a 3-year study of 1182 employers who contacted the Job Accommodation Network, this session provides information on accommodation benefits/costs, successful accommodations, and ways to integrate procedures that enhance the productivity of employees with hidden disabilities.
To register, please go to: http://www.newworkforceconference.org/registration.html
For more information please go to: http://www.newworkforceconference.org/
Typically, most employees with disabilities can maintain acceptable conduct in the workplace. However, on occasion, some employees with disabilities may exhibit unacceptable conduct at work. These situations leave employers with concerns about discipline, accommodations, and the ADA.
JAN’s role as a consulting service is to provide job accommodation ideas that help employees with disabilities perform their jobs. While it may seem challenging to identify accommodations to help manage employee conduct, following some simple guidelines can help resolve these workplace issues quickly.
First, create a workplace policy with particular reference to conduct. Provide clear explanations of expected behavior and prohibited behavior. Some specific behaviors to address might be: destruction of property, using profanity at work, insubordination, or leaving one’s work area. Vague statements such as “employees must act professionally” may be interpreted many ways, and it may be difficult to determine whether or not an employee’s behavior complies with such a statement. Precise wording of your policy can help ensure that employees understand the policy. Provide your policy to employees and provide training and periodic reviews to ensure compliance with your policy.
Next, train managers and supervisors to apply your policy in a consistent and reliable manner to all employees. Applying a policy often means “counseling” employees on conduct issues, using “performance plans” or disciplining employees for conduct violations. The ADA does not require employers to withhold or rescind disciplinary actions from employees with disabilities, nor to lower conduct standard. Furthermore, the ADA does not prevent employers from maintaining safe workplaces (free from violence or threats of violence). Therefore, require managers and supervisors to apply your policy equally to all employees.
Then, encourage employees with disabilities to request job accommodations to ensure compliance with your conduct policy. Job accommodations can help minimize the likelihood of employees with disabilities violating your conduct policy, such as attendance rules or computer use guidelines.
Some examples of job accommodations that help employees with disabilities comply with conduct policies are:
- A sales manager with anxiety is required to participate in staff meetings by sharing one thought or idea with the group. Due to her disability, she has difficulty speaking in front of groups. The employer allows her to submit her idea or thought via email soon after the staff meeting.
- Due to chronic pain, a retail employee experiences irritability during long work shifts when medications wear off. Thus, it becomes difficult to maintain satisfactory customer service. As a job accommodation, the employer shortened the employee’s work shift, which helped manage pain, created less irritability, and improved the employee’s customer service.
- A claims processor with ADHD frequently disrupted teammates with impulsive communication and socialization. To help control his behavior, the employer provided a job coach to teach strategies for managing impulsivity and to reinforce appropriate workplace conduct.
- An employee with depression enjoyed reading inspirational phrases on various websites to help her manage her mood at work. However, using office computers to surf the internet violated company policy. The employer suggested bringing inspirational books to work, and allowing her to read short portions throughout the day.
Finally, if job accommodations do not prevent conduct violations, or if employment separation is imminent due to the severity of the conduct violation, proceed with termination. Be prepared to show that the conduct standard was job-related and consistent with business necessity. According to the EEOC’s Guidance on ADA and Psychiatric Impairments http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/psych.html, some conduct standards may not be job-related for a specific position, and if not, imposing discipline or termination could violate the ADA.
Some JAN users are concerned about the outcome of a recent court case called Gambini v. Total Renal Care, Inc., 486 F.3d 1087 (9th Cir. 2007). The case, from Washington State, involved the discipline and subsequent termination of an employee with bipolar disorder. Washington’s State Human Rights Commission issued guidance on this case: http://www.hum.wa.gov/DisabilityMatters/Gambini.html
JAN strives to help employers understand their responsibilities under the ADA, and hopes that this article is instrumental in helping you achieve success when writing and implementing conduct policies in your place of business.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a life-long disease that compromises the body’s immune system, making it difficult to fight-off illnesses and other diseases. In 2006, persons aged 25 - 54 accounted for 78% of newly diagnosed HIV/AIDS cases, with the majority falling in the 35 - 44 age range (32%) (CDC, 2008). In the past decade, advances in the treatment of HIV have slowed the progression of the disease. These advances, including highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), have helped extend the lives of thousands of people living with HIV and AIDS (The Body, 2007).
HIV disease progresses in stages, typically over a long period of time. A person with HIV disease can be asymptomatic during the course of the disease and appear healthy while living with HIV. However, as the virus slowly weakens the body’s immune system, a variety of symptoms and limitations can develop. Depending on the stage of the disease, a person with HIV may experience flu-like symptoms; skin rashes; fatigue; mild to severe weight loss; ulcers; fevers; diarrhea; and opportunistic infections that can cause severe pneumonia, damage to the nervous system, vision loss, and AIDS-defining cancers (The Body, 2007). The side effects of treatment may also cause significant limitations.
Not only are persons with HIV disease living longer, they also are seeking and maintaining employment many years after initial diagnosis. Employers should be prepared to address the reasonable accommodation needs of workers with HIV, as well as incorporate HIV/AIDS information as part of disability awareness programs. Reasonable accommodations can enable employees with HIV to continue to work effectively while managing the symptoms and limitations associated with the disease and treatment. The degree of limitation and type of accommodation(s) will vary among individuals, but JAN commonly suggests the following accommodation solutions for workers with HIV:
Modified or Flexible Scheduling – Modified or flexible scheduling for a worker with HIV may involve the following:
- adjusting arrival or departure times
- providing frequent or alternatively scheduled breaks with the opportunity to make-up the time or use unpaid leave
- altering when certain functions are performed
- exempting the worker from a rotating shift or overtime
- allowing an employee to use accrued paid leave
- providing additional unpaid leave
Flexible Leave – Flexible leave may be needed in order to attend medical appointments or counseling, or to manage complications associated with HIV disease or treatment and may involve allowing intermittent leave as needed or providing extended unpaid leave.
Modified Policies – Modifying a policy for a worker with HIV may involve allowing an employee to eat or drink at his or her workstation during working hours in order to counter the side-effects of medication, or modifying a “no-fault” leave policy.
Assistive Technology (AT) – AT is any equipment or device that will enable performance of essential job functions and may include the following list of examples for workers with HIV:
- Vision aids, such as an electronic magnifier, screen magnification, or screen reading software
- Ergonomic equipment to counter-act the effects of weight loss and fatigue, such as an ergonomic chair or workstation, anti-fatigue matting, or a sit-lean stool
- Safety equipment, such as cut-resistant work gloves to prevent injury, or an air filtration system to avoid exposure to airborne bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants
- Memory and organizational aids, such as desk calendars and electronic organizers
For more information about AT-related accommodations and vendors, visit JAN’s Searchable Online Accommodation Resource (SOAR) at http://askjan.org/soar.
Telework – Telework involves allowing a worker with HIV to work from home, or an alternative worksite, full-time, several days a week, or as-needed. For information about telework and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), visit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Work At Home/Telework as a Reasonable Accommodation found at http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/telework.html.
Alternative Workstation Arrangement – An alternative workstation arrangement may include providing a workstation or office close to a restroom and/or break room. Workers with HIV may require frequent restroom breaks due to diarrhea or the side-effects of medication, or may need a place to store and access medication and food during the workday.
As a way to prevent unfounded fears about contracting the virus at work, it is important to educate the workforce about HIV and how the disease is contracted. In addition, all employee medical information is to be kept confidential. The following resources offer workplace HIV/AIDS awareness information:
The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource http://www.thebody.com/index.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/basic/index.htm
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, Business Responds to AIDS/Labor Responds to AIDS (BRTA/LRTA) http://www.brta-lrta.org/
National Aids Fund Toolkit for SHRM Chapters http://www.shrm.org/diversity/AIDSGuide/
JAN offers information and resources that support HIV awareness efforts in the workplace. Information about accommodating workers with HIV/AIDS can be found on JAN’s Disability: A – Z Web site for HIV/AIDS at http://askjan.org/media/aids.htm. JAN consultants provide customized job accommodation information, guide employers as they engage in the interactive accommodation process with employees, and offer Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title I compliance assistance. To learn more, contact JAN at 800-526-7234, 877-781-9403 (TTY), or visit www.jan.wvu.edu.
- Tracie D. Saab, M.S. Lead Consultant
References: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2008. HIV/AIDS in the United States. Retrieved July 3, 2008, from http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/print/us.htm.
The Body, 2007. The Stages of HIV Disease. Retrieved July 3, 2008, from http://www.thebody.com/content/whatis/art2506.html.
Employers and employees alike tell JAN about ways they implement changes that enable workers to be productive. Some of these modifications involve using simple tools that we normally associate with recreation and exercise.
A beloved friend of the mountain climber and hiker is the carabineer. A carabiner is an oblong metal ring with one spring hinged side that is used as a connecter for ropes when climbing and hiking. This same small tool can be most useful in the workplace. For those with memory or sequencing problems checklists are invaluable tools in the workplace. What can make them an even more effective tool is to always know where you put the checklist! JAN recommends laminating checklists that will be used again and again. Next punch a hole in the corner and use a carabiner as a means of keeping tabs on the location of that checklist. Attach it to your belt loop if your job has you on the go. Why not play with colors! Color code your files and various checklists with matching carabineers. This worked well for a store manager with memory and concentration problems who had to keep track of various store opening and closing procedures and several reports on various activities. He created checklists for the various procedures and used colored carabineers to match the file folders where reports were stored. Other employees found this system very useful and added color coded keys for the various functions to the carabineer as well.
Biking while sitting at your desk! You must be hard core into your sport to even consider it. For one call center employee pedaling at work was instrumental in maintaining productivity. This individual with a circulatory condition was told by her doctor she should get up and walk for 5 minutes every 45 minutes. However, call center atmosphere did not lend itself to such activity. With the involvement of the company's Occupational Health Nurse this employee was able to stay productive on the job by using a pedaling exerciser at her desk. The pedal exerciser fit nicely under her workstation and she was able to talk on the phone with instant access to her computer screen and pedal at the same time to get the needed movement in her legs.
As summer comes to an end our teachers return to the classroom to prepare for another year of learning. For those teachers (and students) with hearing loss those clean floors and metal desks present a barrier to productivity. Just imagine 25 students fidgeting in their chairs sliding back and forth on that hard floor. Teachers are often getting students of all ages up and moving from their chairs to make the most of that classroom experience. That movement causes desks to slide, squeak, and make noise! Many classrooms are not carpeted. This irritable background noise really can prevent effective communication. What is the summer fun solution? Tennis anyone? Tennis balls make great noise reducing caps for those metal desk chair legs. So don't throw away those used balls or even save them all for Fido. Teachers (and students) with hearing loss report that putting used tennis balls on the bottom of chairs and desks reduce that background noise so they can be creative in keeping students active and moving in the classroom.
These simple examples are indicative of ways people look to use common tools to solve problems. People with disabilities can and do bring innovation into the workforce. This innovation can lead to increased productivity for all workers.
- Anne Hirsh, M.S., JAN Co-Director
January 29 - 30, 2009, at the Caribe Royale All-Suites Resort & Convention Center Orlando, Florida.
The ATIA Leadership Forum on Accessibility is an exciting two-day event designed specifically to help large corporations, government agencies and educational institutions derive business value through accessibility. During the two days you will hear the business case for providing accessible solutions for your employees and clients with case studies from major corporations, government agencies and educational institutions. There will also be the opportunity to see the latest technology from 125+ leading assistive technology manufacturers and service providers.
The ATIA Leadership Forum provides educational sessions and networking opportunities specifically designed to help the leaders of today's corporate, government, and educational environments address accessibility issues. The Forum discusses the business case for accessibility and its associated technologies and provides case studies of successful implementations.
Attendees can network with key industry executives and share insights into matters of employment, customer outreach and other accessibility issues. The ATIA Leadership Forum provides the accessibility professional from any background the information needed to begin or enhance accessibility integration. For more information, go to: http://www.atia.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3368
August 10-13, 2008. Disability Management Employer Coalition Annual conference in Denver, CO. Stop by the JAN booth in the exhibit hall. http://www.dmec.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=84
August 12, 2008. JAN/USBLN Webcast Lori Golden with Ernst and Young will discuss the job accommodation process.
August 14, 2008. JAN staff will be presenting via teleconference for the National MS Society staff training on reasonable accommodation issues for individuals with MS.
August 18-21, 2008. EEOC Excel Conference in Chicago, IL. Stop by the JAN exhibit booth and JAN staff presenting.
August 20, 2008. JAN staff will be in Arlington, VA, presenting on Using JAN and Reasonable Accommodation Issues for the National Guard Bureau annual training.
August 24-27, 2008. "The Best Go West: Customized Employment Leadership Rendezvous" in Lochsa, ID. JAN staff presenting.
August 25-29, 2008. JAN staff will be in Arlington, VA, presenting at the U.S. DOL 2008 National Equal Opportunity Professional Development Forum on Alcohol and Drug Use Challenges at the One-Stop Centers. http://www.dol.gov/oasam/programs/crc/2008conf2.htm
September 27, 2008. "Annual Occupational Medicine Conference - Tri-State Occupational Medical Association" in Columbus, OH. JAN staff presenting
October 5-8, 2008. USBLN Annual Conference and Career Fair in Portland, OR. JAN staff presenting. http://www.usbln.org/
October 15, 2008. Rapid City, SD. JAN staff will be providing two presentations to a group of employers and rehabilitation professionals at the Annual SD State Vocational Rehab statewide conference. Presentation topics are hidden disability issues and the reasonable accommodation process.
October 20, 2008. Federal White Sands Missile Base Disability Awareness Month, White Sands, NM. JAN staff providing training on job accommodations.
October 22, 2008. Baltimore, MD. JAN staff has been invited to present on accommodation issues for workers with TBI at the DHHS – Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Disability Awareness Month Event.
October 28, 2008. Allegheny County MH MR and the Community College of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, PA. JAN staff presenting.
October 29, 2008. Ft. Meade, MD. JAN staff have been invited to present on reasonable accommodation issues for the Baltimore Federal Executive Board Disability Awareness event.
October 29, 2008. Rhode Island Service Providers and Employers, Providence RI. JAN staff presenting on job accommodation and ADA issues.
November 19-20, 2008. 17th Annual National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference and Expo, Las Vegas NV. JAN staff exhibiting. http://www.wcconference.com/
December 10-12, 2008. Bethesda, MD. Perspectives on Employment of Persons with Disabilities. JAN staff presenting three sessions, and stop by the exhibit booth in the registration area. http://www.grad.usda.gov/Conferences/Perspectives/index.php
January 29-30, 2009. Orlando, FL. ATIA Annual Leadership Forum on Accessibility. JAN sponsoring and presenting. http://www.atia.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3368
June 15-16, 2009. Washington, DC. JAN staff will be presenting on reasonable accommodation issues for lawyers at the ABA National Conference on Employment of Lawyers. http://www.abanet.org/disability/conferences/09conference.shtml
El servicio en español de JAN se ha hecho disponible.
JAN está fuertemente comprometido en servir a La Fuerza Laboral Hispana. El alcance y esfuerzo de JAN ahora incluye consultas y asistencias técnicas en español. Visite http://askjan.org/espanol un recurso en línea disponible en español. Esta página, fue creada con la intención de que el publico o audiencia de habla-inglesa de JAN participe en el procesos de distribución de esta literatura a la comunidad hispana. Contacte JAN para mayor información.
JAN's Spanish translation service is now available.
JAN is strongly committed to the serving the Hispanic American workforce. JAN's outreach efforts now include consultation and technical assistance in Spanish. Visit http://askjan.org/espanol JAN's online resources available in Spanish. This page is intended for JAN's English-speaking audience who would like to help distribute JAN literature to the Hispanic community. Contact JAN directly for additional information.
JAN Web site: http://askjan.org
Call JAN: 800-526-7234 (Voice), 877-781-9403 (TTY), 304-293-5407 (Fax)
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This document was developed by the Job Accommodation Network, funded by a cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy (DOL079RP20426). The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the U.S. Department of Labor. Nor does mention of tradenames, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Labor.