Volume 7, Issue 3, Third Quarter, 2009
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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- ADA Update
- Campaign for Disability Employment to Launch in August
- Educators Get Ready for Back-to-School
- Job Accommodations: From Home Style to Gourmet
- Hidden Disabilities in the Workplace
- In the Meantime: The Benefits of Making Temporary Accommodations
- JAN Releases New Resources
- JAN Exhibit and Training Schedule
- Contact JAN
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrates its 19th anniversary in July with renewed interest and excitement that started on January 1, 2009, when the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) went into effect. The ADAAA made "important changes to the definition of the term 'disability' by rejecting the holdings in several Supreme Court decisions" and restored the original intent of the ADA: to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability and improve the employment rate of people with disabilities (See Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Announcement of the NPRM). Since the ADAAA went into effect, we have all been anxiously awaiting regulations from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to help clarify the changes the Act made to the definition of disability. On June 17, 2009, the EEOC voted to approve a proposed Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to conform its ADA regulations to the Amendments Act. The proposed NPRM has now been sent to other federal agencies for comment and for approval by the Office of Management and Budget. When this process is completed, the EEOC will publish its NPRM for public comment.
If you want to follow the progress of the regulations and have a chance to comment on the NPRM, check JAN's Website and JAN's Accommodation and Compliance Series: The ADA Amendments Act of 2008, for the latest news.
This year the ADA celebrates its 19th anniversary in July. To mark the occasion, JAN is hosting a Webcast called “ADA Tricky Issues” with Sharon Rennert, Senior Attorney Advisor, with the ADA Division of the EEOC on July 14th. The Webcast is sold out, but it will be archived for future viewing, so check the training section of the JAN Website if you are interested.
JAN is also celebrating the anniversary of the ADA with new communication features. On July 27, JAN will offer a JAN Chat function via the JAN Website. If you are looking for a certain document, need a fast resource, or want a quick answer while you are on the JAN Website, just use the new JAN Chat. You can find the Chat on the JAN Homepage and throughout the Website.
Also on July 27th, JAN will have the grand opening of the JAN Second Life virtual office. Want to download documents, receive technical assistance, learn about the accessibility of new media, request training, or talk with the JAN Avatar? Go to the virtual JAN office in Second Life!
- Linda Carter Batiste, J.D., Principal Consultant
Every day, people with disabilities can and do add value to America’s workplaces. However, in both good economic times and bad, people with disabilities have far fewer job opportunities than the general population. The Campaign for Disability Employment, a newly-formed collaborative of leading disability organizations, seeks to promote positive employment outcomes for people with disabilities by encouraging employers, and others, to recognize the value and talent that people with disabilities bring to the workplace, as well as the dividend to be realized by fully including people with disabilities at work.
The knowledge, skills, and abilities employees bring to work each day are by far the assets that yield the most output over the long term. Oorganizations that know how to identify and recognize talent are most likely to succeed. Being inclusive of people with disabilities—in recruitment, retention, and advancement—can offer companies a competitive edge that will contribute to this success. The Campaign’s goal is to promote hiring, retention, and advancement of people with disabilities and dispel negative stereotypes regarding disability and employment by demonstrating that at work it’s what people CAN do that matters.
The Campaign’s national effort to increase employment of people with disabilities will officially launch in August, 2009. In support of this effort, the Campaign announced the What Can YOU Do? online video contest to promote the talent and skills that people with disabilities bring to America’s workforce and economy. The contest challenges filmmakers to use their creativity to illustrate how everyone can benefit from good workplace practices that give all workers the opportunity to contribute and be included. The contest ends July 15, 2009, and the winner will be announced in August. The overall winner will be awarded a $1,500.00 gift card sponsored by Best Buy, one of the nation's leading technology retailers, and an employer that includes and values all employees for their talents, ideas, and innovative approaches. For detailed contest information, please visit http://askjan.org/videocontest.
The Campaign for Disability Employment is a collaborative effort between the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the National Business and Disability Council (NBDC), Special Olympics (SO), the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN), and the Job Accommodation Network (JAN). For more information, contact Tracie Saab at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Tracie D. Saab, M.S., Collaborative Project Lead
Most educators have heard of and/or received back-to-school survival kits. These kits are a thoughtful, fun way to look at the difficulties and challenges teachers face and to provide an object as a “solution” to those challenges. A few examples of objects that might be found in a survival kit include a paper clip for holding it all together, a pipe cleaner for flexibility, bandages for when things get a little rough, and a sponge to absorb the overflow when the brain becomes saturated. If only it were that easy!
But educators who have difficulties and challenges because of a disability need real solutions. Those solutions can come in the way of job accommodations. As a teacher, you may have just taken that big sigh, relieved that you have made it through another school year, and are now looking forward to some rest and relaxation. If you are considering asking for job accommodations for the next school year, now is the time to begin thinking about your plan of action. Let JAN help you with that. Our new Occupation and Industry Series: Accommodating Educators with Disabilities was released in March and is available on our Website. It contains helpful ADA information, accommodation ideas, and resources. You will find a vast array of ideas to help with accommodations, whether the impairment is motor/mobility, sensory, allergies/chemical sensitivities, mental health, or cognitive in nature. We have consultants who specialize in each of the above areas of impairment to provide you with more specific assistance. The services JAN provides are free and confidential.
So, instead of waiting until you need the tiny shovel in your survival kit to help you dig out from underneath the difficulties you are experiencing or using the piece of string to tie everything together when it all falls apart, consider letting JAN help you get your accommodations in place before school starts and the challenges become overwhelming.
- Melanie Whetzel, M.A., Consultant, Cognitive / Neurological Team
Job accommodations come in all shapes and sizes; they may be highly technical in nature or something simple. Let's look at a few examples of how JAN assisted small employers with job accommodations that were more home style than gourmet.
Example: An administrative assistant with carpal tunnel syndrome was having difficulty opening and closing binders full of material. Two gourmet accommodation options would have been replacing the entire filing system with an automated filing system or replacing the binders with those that are new and easier to open.
Home Style Accommodation After Consulting with JAN: What about taking a church key bottle opener and hooking it over the binder clasp? The employee was able to comfortably grip the bottle opener, hook it over a binder clasp, and effectively open and close a binder without excessive pinching.
Example: A consultant with a shoulder injury was having difficulty using her mouse. Because of her injury, she adjusted her articulating keyboard and mouse tray at such a steep angle that the mouse slid off the tray. Two gourmet accommodation options would have been replacing the articulating keyboard tray or purchasing a supine workstation.
Home Style Accommodation After Consulting with JAN: What about creating a house for the mouse? The employee was accommodated with a few pieces of wood. Adding a lip to the bottom of a piece of wood and attaching it to the mouse tray with Velcro kept the mouse from sliding off of its house.
Example: A teller with hearing loss had difficulty understanding when she was needed at a central workstation. She could not hear voices in the busy environment. Two gourmet accommodation options would have been installing a new telephone system or purchasing a vibrating pager.
Home Style Accommodation After Consulting with JAN: What about installing a light switch and outlet? The employee was notified via a lamp plugged into an outlet that was activated by a light switch at the central workstation.
Contact JAN for technical assistance about all types of accommodations, including those that are low cost solutions. Home style or gourmet . . . what's the price tag? JAN data consistently support that the costs of accommodation are much less expensive than some believe. A survey of 1,182 employers, interviewed between January 2004 and December 2006 showed that nearly half (46%) of all job accommodations cost nothing. Of those with a one-time cost, the typical cost was $500. Look for updated findings in October to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month. >>Read more.
- Beth Loy, Ph.D., Principal Consultant
Employees with disabilities are not always easy to recognize in today's workforce. Many disabilities are "hidden," and an employee's disability might be completely indiscernible by co-workers, supervisors, or customers. Are you interested in learning more about hidden disabilities such as learning disabilities and mental health impairments? Would you like to know how to accommodate employees with hidden disabilities?
Then, please join JAN for a re-broadcast of Accommodation Issues for Employees with Hidden Disabilities (original air date: May 12, 2009). Hear a JAN Senior Consultant discuss this popular topic and identify many accommodation strategies for employees with hidden disabilities. Click here to view the Webcast: http://webcast.askjan.org/p38549011/
JAN provides access to archived JAN Webcasts at no cost. Gather your employees together in a room for in-service training. Educate yourself, management, and other employees on disability etiquette, assistive technologies, management techniques, and the latest on accommodations and the employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Each accessible Webcast is approximately one hour in length. Combine a Webcast event with a JAN call-in and/or request a customized Webcast training before the JAN calendar fills. >> Request now!
Accommodations are supposed to benefit both employers and employees with disabilities by enabling employees to effectively perform the essential functions of their jobs. However, in some situations, when a reasonable accommodation is requested, it is not always possible to make the accommodation immediately. For example, some accommodations may have to be researched, medical documentation may take a while to get, or implementing an accommodation may require some time. In these situations, it can be in the best interest of both the employer and employee to consider temporary accommodations. Making temporary accommodations starts with an open dialogue between the employer and employee about the specific tasks that are difficult for the employee at the moment, the limitations that are preventing the employee from performing those tasks, and solutions that can be made quickly on a temporary basis. With a good understanding of the situation, temporary changes may be made to allow the employee to continue being productive while the employer processes the employee’s accommodation request.
JAN research has shown that accommodations often cost very little, if anything at all. So too, inexpensive, temporary accommodations can be made while waiting to make a more permanent change – for a small investment, big benefits can result. For more information, download Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact.
Here are some examples of temporary accommodations that can be effective in some situations and that often can be made quickly:
- Providing a flexible work schedule (e.g., allowing a later start time, a longer lunch, additional breaks, or part-time work);
- Removing a job function;
- Allowing work from home/telecommuting; and
- Providing a job coach.
The goal of accommodations is to provide a win-win situation for the employer and the employee. Temporary accommodations can go a long way to achieving this goal.
JAN Announces Federal Employer Winter Webcast Series - 2009/2010. JAN announces three 1.5 hour Webcast sessions to begin the first week of December 2009. The three part series will cover the hiring and employment of people with disabilities in the Federal government and the reasonable accommodation process. JAN welcomes guest speakers from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Office of Personnel Management, DoD's Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program, and the USDA TARGET Center. Audience members will include federal disability program managers, hiring managers, supervisors, EEO representatives, selective placement coordinators, and others who may be involved in hiring and managing workers in the Federal government. Look for registration to open soon on the JAN Website!
Not a Federal Employer? JAN to Continue Monthly Webcast Series - 2009/2010. JAN will be announcing monthly Webcast training events. Look for information to be posted on JAN's Website and social networks in the coming weeks.
JAN Releases New Media via YouTube. JAN ventured into the realm of new media to reach more employers and let them know about the JAN service. Have you had success using the Job Accommodation Network? Do you want to share this important resource with others? JAN’s new five minute, fully accessible YouTube video provides colleagues, friends, and other the opportunity to “Step inside the JAN office, meet staff, and learn more about job accommodations.” >> View more.
JAN Strengthens Partnership for Employment with Job Corps. JAN has a long-standing relationship with Job Corps, identifying classroom and career technical accommodations to help students with different disabilities, providing information on products and vendors, and helping to understand the ADA and related laws. See how JAN and Job Corps are partnering to improve the employment rate of people with disabilities. >> Read more.
JAN Offers New Blog Feature for Discussing Veterans Issues. Use JAN's blog discussion thread to share resources, best practices, information, and technical assistance regarding the employment of veterans and returning service members. >> Post now!
Kathy Martinez, Confirmed as Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), Department of Labor
Kathy Martinez was confirmed by the Senate Thursday, June 25, 2009, as Assistant Secretary for the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. Ms. Martinez is an internationally recognized disability rights leader specializing in employment, asset building, independent living, international development, and diversity and gender issues.
U.S. DOL Announces National Disability Employment Awareness Month Theme
The U.S. Department of Labor today announced “Expectation + Opportunity = Full Participation” as the official theme for October’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month. It is intended to urge employers, as they seek to fill positions, to embrace the richness of America’s diversity by considering the talents of all workers, including workers with disabilities. >> Read more.
JAN Partnering with US Business Leadership Network on 2009 Annual Conference
Join us in National Harbor, Maryland (Washington, DC), on September 15-18, 2009, for the US Business Leadership Network 12th Annual Conference and National Career Fair at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, offering sweeping views of the Potomac River, Washington, D.C., and Old Town Alexandria, while a river meanders through the lush, multi-level indoor gardens. The 2009 Conference, Connecting The Dots: Business Solutions, is the preeminent national event for business, community leaders, and BLN affiliates that have an interest in hiring, retaining, and marketing to people with disabilities. This year's event promises to provide informational and educational opportunities of the highest quality. Join JAN senior staff members and learn from their expertise at the Job Accommodation Network track! >> Register now!
ATIA Announces Two Accessibility Events
ATIA is excited to announce two accessibility events over the next seven months! The first in October 2009 is a one-day workshop in the Chicago area. The Leadership Workshop on Accessibility brings to the area several of the highly acclaimed topics from the January 2009 Leadership Forum. In addition, the ODEP Collaborative on Accessible Workplace Technologies has partnered with ATIA to add content related to business strategies that enhance the employment of persons with disabilities.
Then in January 2010, the fourth annual Leadership Forum on Accessibility will be held in Orlando, Florida. This two day event offers plenary sessions and breakout sessions to provide each attendee with choices to create a customized educational experience. Special networking activities are provided to offer the maximum amount of peer exchange. Both events are run concurrently with the ATIA Conference so that attendees have access to the ATIA Exhibit Hall. The exhibit hall brings together the latest assistive technology and gives the attendees the ability to see what technology can be utilized to develop an organization wide accessibility strategy. Both events focus on the business case for accessibility, its associated technologies, and provide insight from implementation success stories. Early Bird registration ends September 18th. >> Get Details.
Events of particular interest:
Get the most up-to-date and comprehensive training on employing people with disabilities in the Federal sector. To view the complete schedule go here: http://askjan.org/training/On-the-Road.htm
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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.