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Volume 7, Issue 4, Fourth 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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Index

  1. Train Your Supervisors and Managers on What Constitutes a Request for a Reasonable Accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
  2. Campaign for Disability Employment Launches What Can YOU Do? Web Site and Outreach Videos
  3. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
  4. Mobility Enhancing Devices, Part 1 of a 3 Part Series
  5. Small Business and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)
  6. Common Measures of Central Tendency: Mean, Median, Mode and JAN's Cost of Accommodation
  7. JAN Releases New Resources
  8. E-vents
  9. JAN Exhibit and Training Schedule
  10. Contact JAN

1 - Train Your Supervisors and Managers on What Constitutes a Request for a Reasonable Accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

When employees need to make a change in how or when they do their work, who would they most likely approach? Many individuals tell us they would approach their supervisor or manager. For this reason, it is imperative that all supervisors and managers are trained on how to recognize a potential request for reasonable accommodation in relation to the ADA and know what to do with a potential request once it is received.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) tells us that a request for an accommodation in relation to the ADA does not have to be formal or in writing. In fact, the applicant or employee can use "plain English" and need not mention the ADA or even the phrase "reasonable accommodation." In its Enforcement Guidance on Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the EEOC provides the following examples that all supervisors and managers should be familiar with:

Example A: An employee tells her supervisor, "I'm having trouble getting to work at my scheduled starting time because of medical treatments I'm undergoing." This is a request for a reasonable accommodation.

Example B: An employee tells his supervisor, "I need six weeks off to get treatment for a back problem." This is a request for a reasonable accommodation.

Example C: A new employee, who uses a wheelchair, informs the employer that her wheelchair cannot fit under the desk in her office. This is a request for reasonable accommodation.

Example D: An employee tells his supervisor that he would like a new chair because his present one is uncomfortable. Although this is a request for a change at work, his statement is insufficient to put the employer on notice that he is requesting reasonable accommodation. He does not link his need for the new chair with a medical condition.

The bottom line for all to know is that when an individual applicant or employee requests a change in the workplace due to a medical condition, it may be a request for a reasonable accommodation. It is also important to know that the request does not have to come from the employee, but may come from a third party. The EEOC provides the following example in its publication called: Questions & Answers About Persons with Intellectual Disabilities in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act:

Example: The mother of a clerk with Down Syndrome calls the clerk's supervisor to tell him that she wants to schedule a meeting to discuss problems that her son is having with his job and some possible solutions. This is a request for a reasonable accommodation.

Put these examples on the agenda of your next meeting or memo to your supervisors and managers. Include information about your company's policy on the ADA and reasonable accommodation. Educate your supervisors and managers on what to do with a potential request should they receive one.

Supervisors and managers should be trained to respond to the request by informing the individual of the company policy and what is the next step in the process. Individuals should know that the supervisor or manager will document that a request has been made and who they must inform (if anyone) of the request. Let the individual know who in the company he/she can expect to hear from about the request. Give timelines whenever possible so the individual knows who will respond and approximately how long it may take. If there are forms the company has to aid in the interactive process, the individual should be provided the forms or information on how to obtain the forms as soon as possible.

Individuals need to be informed that any medical information received will be kept confidential. This should apply to even verbal requests where an individual may say something like he recently learned he has diabetes and as a result needs to talk about changing when he takes breaks to better care for his dietary needs. Supervisors and managers need to know this is sensitive and confidential information that is not to be shared with others, except to move the accommodation process forward.

Informed employees can better contribute to any process by knowing what is expected of them and what to expect from the employer. The same is true for the reasonable accommodation process. To read more about updating and creating a reasonable accommodation process, check out JAN's Employers' Practical Guide to Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADA.

- Anne Hirsh, M.S., Co-Director

2 - Campaign for Disability Employment Launches What Can YOU Do? Website and Outreach Videos

The Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE), a new collaborative effort to promote positive employment outcomes for people with disabilities, recently launched the What Can YOU Do? public education outreach effort and Website at the US Business Leadership Annual Conference in Washington, DC. Learn how your organization can gain from the knowledge, skills and abilities employees with disabilities bring to work each day and access resources to assist in recruiting, retaining, and advancing skilled, qualified employees by visiting the CDE’s What Can YOU Do? Website.

In support of the “What Can YOU Do?” effort, the CDE held a national, on-line video contest, which attracted more than 130 videos promoting the talent and skills that people with disabilities bring to America’s workplaces and economy. The overall contest prize, a $1500 gift card, was sponsored by Best Buy and was awarded to Mississippi native Blake Watson. Mr. Watson’s innovative video, “Meet Sue,” is showcased on the Campaign’s Website at http://www.whatcanyoudocampaign.org. The CDE invites everyone to view and forward the “Meet Sue” video, as well as the Campaign’s flagship video public service announcement, “I Can,” which demonstrates what people with disabilities can do on the job when given the opportunity. Because, at work, it's what people can do that matters.

- Tracie D. Saab, M.S., Collaborative Project Lead

3 - October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) is celebrating 25 years of awareness, education, and empowerment in 2009. The NBCAM is a partnership of national public service organizations, professional medical associations, and government agencies working together to promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease, and provide greater access to screening services (NBCAM, 2009). According to the American Cancer Society (2009), also part of NBCAM, breast cancer is the most common cancer in the United States aside from skin cancer. An estimated 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed among women in the United States this year (ACS, 2009). There are currently more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in America (ACS, 2009).

In the workplace, many individuals with cancer will be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to provide accommodations to employees with disabilities unless providing the accommodation would cause an undue hardship. An employer must provide a reasonable accommodation that is needed because of the limitations caused by the cancer itself, the side effects of medication or treatment for the cancer, or both. For example, an employer may have to accommodate an employee who is unable to work while having chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments, or has depression as a result of the cancer, or both. For more information, download Questions and Answers About Cancer in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Accommodations will differ from employee to employee. Some employees with cancer will not require an accommodation, while others may require several. Many of the accommodations a person with cancer might need will be inexpensive, such as leave for medical appointments or to recuperate from treatments, a modified work schedule, rest breaks, a private area to rest or to take medications, permission to work from home, or reassignment to another job. Each woman with breast cancer may require other specific accommodations that depend on her health and medical needs as well as the type of job that she performs.

JAN consultants can help individualize accommodations for employees with cancer according to their needs, limitations, and situations. JAN consultants also work with employers to explain their responsibilities under the ADA, to provide information on accommodations and practical solutions, and to help them retain valuable employees with cancer. Publications with information concerning cancer accommodations as well as contact information for organizations can be found on the JAN Website.

The bottom line for those receiving cancer treatments is that more than likely, in one way or another, your job performance will be affected. Let the consultants at JAN provide you with information about the ADA and workplace accommodations that can help you keep your job and ease your stress level while enabling you to concentrate more on the process of getting the treatments that you need, taking care of yourself, and healing. And one more thing, don’t forget to wear your pink.

> American Cancer Society. (2009). Breast Cancer Fact Sheet. Retrieved October 3, 2009, from http://www.cancer.org/downloads/PRO/BreastCancer.pdf

> EEOC. (2009). Questions and Answers About Cancer in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Retrieved October 3, 2009, from http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/cancer.html

> National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (2009). Retrieved October 3, 2009, from http://www.nbcam.org/disease_breast_cancer.cfm

For additional resources on Cancer, visit JAN's A to Z by Disability: Cancer.

- Melanie Whetzel, M.A., Consultant, Cognitive / Neurological Team

4 - Mobility Enhancing Devices, Part 1 of a 3 Part Series

If one can walk, a rollator can be a great mobility enhancing device and serves as an improvement on old style walkers that one must lift every foot or so; the individual user simply holds onto the handles and pushes the device forward. To use a rollator, a person needs the strength to be able to walk and stand for a prolonged period and have the ability to hold onto the handles in order to maintain support and balance.

Rollators are also known as rolling walkers or walkers with wheels; the three wheeled models are good in cramped areas, but the four wheeled models offer more stability. Small wheeled models are especially effective indoors on smooth surfaces, whereas, the larger wheeled models are designed for outdoor use.

Size is important when choosing the right rollator. There are versions for children, tall adults, average sizes, and bariatric models that will support up to 400 pounds. Physicians and physical therapists can make appropriate recommendations as to the right size for certain individuals.

Most rollator manufacturers offer some optional accessories such as padded seats, sturdy backrests, easy to operate ergonomic hand brakes, folding models, and baskets. All are lightweight. Most have a variety of color choices. To further accessorize the mobility device, one can add bike horns/lights, flags, and decals. For more details on these alternatives to walkers, check out the following:

> http://www.spinlife.com/content/featuredPages/gbbrollators.cfm

> http://www.phc-online.com/v/vspfiles/html/rollators.htm

> http://www.nextag.com/rollator-walkers/shop-html (Comparison shopping-great variety of models)

> http://arthritis.about.com/od/assistivedevicesgadgets/tp/walkers.htm (Reviews of top eight rollators)

> For more information regarding vendors, visit JAN's SOAR at: http://askjan.org/cgi-win/OrgQuery.exe?Sol549

- Eddie Whidden, M.A., Senior Consultant, Motor Team

5 - Small Business and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)

For many small business owners, the economic downturn of the past year has been particularly difficult, making the components of the ARRA focusing on small businesses a vital tool in the recovery process. In addition to supporting already existing business owners, the Recovery Act recognizes the establishment of new businesses as an important growth engine in the reinvention of the American economy into the 21st century. The SBA reports that small businesses are the main private sector job creator in the United States, which means they will play a vital role in putting Americans back to work. For entrepreneurs with disabilities, these programs offer both supports for already existing businesses as well as opportunities in the start-up phase. The expansion of the SBA’s microloan program under the Recovery Act may particularly offer increased opportunities for self-employment or developing a small business. As detailed by the SBA, the Recovery Act provides an additional $50 million in microloans and $24 million in technical assistance through September 2010. Progress on the SBA recovery efforts were reported this month in a press release highlighting the following positive impacts:

While economic struggles continue for small businesses, it’s important to recognize that recessionary periods in the past have produced some of the greatest innovative entrepreneurship, including the formation of LexisNexis, FedEx, Microsoft, MTV Networks, and CNN. Even though the SBA Recovery Act programs are a partial piece of the overall solution, they can offer targeted financial assistance in these tough economic times.

Resources:

> Small Business Administration (SBA) – Economic Recovery at http://www.sba.gov/recovery

> SBA Recovery Information Center at http://www.sba.gov/recovery/information

> Microloans Help Small Businesses Start, Grow and Succeed at http://www.sba.gov/idc/groups/public/documents/sba_homepage/recovery_act_microloans.pdf

> The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 at http://www.recovery.gov/Pages/default.aspx

> Link to State Recovery Sites at http://www.recovery.gov/Transparency/info/Pages/State_Territory_Recovery_Sites.aspx

Kim Cordingly, Ph.D., Lead Consultant, Self-Employment Team

6 - Common Measures of Central Tendency: Mean, Median, Mode and JAN's Cost of Accommodation

Recently, JAN's Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact Fact Sheet, which provides new research findings addressing the costs and benefits of job accommodations for people with disabilities, was updated. These data indicated that the "typical" one-time cost of accommodation reported by employers was $600 (JAN, 2009). Because too few employers provided cost data on accommodations that are recurring, the results focused on those with one-time costs. What does this mean?

Let's start by deciphering the term "typical" cost. All data sets have constructs that best represent the distribution of the data. When we have several elements of a data set, we want to find one measure of central tendency, if possible, that best represents these data. This gives us a clearer picture of what is happening and allows us to make inferences about the data. For some data sets either the mode, mean, or median may be the best choice. For others, all two or three may be reported to provide readers with additional information.

The mode, the most frequently occurring number in a data set, is often used with non-numerical data. Because of this, JAN rarely reports the mode as a measure of the one-time cost of accommodation reported by employers. If using the mode as the typical cost indicator in the most recent update, the typical one-time cost of accommodation, when including those that cost nothing, was $0. When using the mode as the typical cost indicator and excluding those that cost nothing, the typical cost of accommodation was $100. Using the mode as a representative measure of central tendency for these data is probably not a good representation of what employers report as the cost of accommodation.

The mean usually refers to the arithmetic mean, which is the average of a data set. Because the mean is primarily used for symmetrical distributions with no outliers, JAN rarely reports the mean cost of accommodation reported by employers. For example, say one employer reported to JAN that it modified a building to add an elevator and reported this cost of accommodation as $100,000. Reporting an average as the cost of accommodation, when most accommodations cost far less, would not represent the typical cost of accommodation. Because most accommodations are low cost, any high dollar outliers would pull the average cost of accommodation away from the typical cost of accommodation. If using the mean as the typical cost indicator in the most recent update, the typical one-time cost of accommodation, when including those that cost nothing, was $1,183. When using the mean as the typical cost indicator and excluding those that cost nothing, the typical cost of accommodation was $2,900. Although useful in some situations, using the mean as a representative measure of central tendency for these data is probably not the best representation of what employers report as the cost of accommodation.

The median, the middle number in a data set, is used when outliers exist in a data set. Because of outliers reported by a few employers, JAN reports the median one-time cost of accommodation as the typical cost of accommodation. If using the median as the typical cost indicator in the most recent update, the typical one-time cost of accommodation, when including those that cost nothing, was $0. JAN, however, excluded the 56% that cost nothing and reported the median of those accommodations that had a reported cost. This cost of accommodation was $600. Because of a few reported outliers, the median is a good representation of what employers report as the cost of accommodation.

Given that these three measures of central tendency have different meanings, researchers may certainly have reasons to choose one over the other when reporting JAN's data on the cost of accommodation. Want to debate the best way to report the cost of accommodation? Post to JAN's Blog and enjoy a community space to discuss the issue. Start blogging!

Job Accommodation Network. (2009). Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact. Retrieved October 1, 2009, from http://askjan.org/media/LowCostHighImpact.doc

- Beth Loy, Ph.D., Principal Consultant

7 - JAN Releases New Resources

JAN Opens Registration for Monthly Webcast Series - 2009/2010. Register for a monthly JAN Webcast. Integrate these trainings into your professional development. Series topics cover employer best practices; veterans' issues; current events; ADA update; assistive technologies; and accommodation ideas for HIV/AIDS, traumatic brain injuries, and mental health impairments. >> Register here.

JAN Updates Bulletin: Accommodation and Compliance Series: The ADA Amendments Act of 2008. It is not too late to comment on the proposed regulation regarding the ADA definition of disability! On September 23, 2009, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to conform its ADA regulation to the Amendments Act of 2008. There is a 60-day period in which the public may submit comments to EEOC about the proposed regulation. At the end of this period, EEOC will evaluate all of the comments and make revisions before issuing a final regulation. >> Read more.

JAN Apoya el Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana. JAN celebra el mes Nacional de la herencia hispana desde el 15 de Septiembre hasta el 15 de Octubre del 2009. Los esfuerzos de nuestro alcance incluyen asistencia técnica en español cuyos recursos son dirigidos a aquellas personas de habla inglesa e hispana, que les gustaría ayudar con la distribución de la literatura de JAN a la comunidad hispana. JAN se ha comprometido grandemente a prestar su servicio a la fuerza laboral de la comunidad hispana. Por favor, contacte JAN directamente si posee alguna pregunta adicional, y visite JAN en español en la siguiente página web.

(JAN supports National Hispanic Heritage Month. JAN celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, 2009. JAN's outreach efforts include consultation and technical assistance in Spanish. These resources are intended for JAN's English and Spanish-speaking audience who would like to help distribute JAN literature to the Hispanic community. JAN is strongly committed to serving its Hispanic American workforce. Please contact JAN directly with any additional questions, and visit JAN en Español.)

JAN Releases YouTube Channel. With the release of new multimedia, JAN provides several videos for training events and to raise awareness. >> View more.

JAN Enters Path of Support in 3D Virtual World of Second Life. The Path of Support is an area of Second Life's HealthInfo Island that displays the variety of healthcare support organizations who have a Second Life presence. These groups support many topics - general health, specific medical conditions, mental health, disability and accessibility, bereavement, addictions, abuse, and others. JAN has recently been added to the Path of Support organizations that provide disability-related services in Second and Real Life. >> Learn more about Second Life and Visit the Path of Support.

JAN to Present "Current Events in Accommodation" in Second Life. On October 23, 2009, at 11:30 SLT, JAN will present for 1 hour in the Virtual Abilities Island Auditorium to recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The presentation will include a discussion of recent events and news relating to workplace accommodations and the ADA. >> Go to VAI Auditorium in Second Life.

JAN Offers New Website Chat Feature. Use JAN's Website chat feature to locate resources, information, and technical assistance.

JAN Provides Tax Incentive Update. Find general guidance about tax incentives related to accessibility and the employment of people with disabilities. >> Read more.

JAN Publishes STEM Document. Find accommodation examples in JAN's Accommodating Employees in Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM) Fields. >> Read more about STEM fields and other industries.

8 - E-vents

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) - "Expectation + Opportunity = Full Participation"

Learn more about NDEAM. 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. This year’s poster is the most popular ever. >> Click here to order yours.

U.S. Labor Department Awards Cooperative Agreement

The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has awarded a cooperative agreement to Cornell University's Employment and Disability Institute, School of Industrial and Labor Relations in Ithaca, N.Y., to establish a national technical assistance center for employers on employment of people with disabilities. The purpose of the center will be to conduct innovative research; assist ODEP in developing demand-side policy; and share best practices with employers on the recruitment, hiring, retention, and advancement of people with disabilities. >> Read press release.

National Network of DBTAC-Regional ADA Centers Announces 2009-2010 ADA Audio Conference Series

The 2009-2010 series features JAN in a session on December 15, 2009, titled Social Networking Sites and Accessibility: Implications for Employers. >> View entire schedule. >> Follow JAN on your social network of choice.

EEOC Updates Guidance on ADA-Compliant Planning for H1N1 Flu

The EEOC has updated its guidance for preparing for and responding to the 2009 H1N1 flu virus without violating the ADA. >> View update. >>For accommodation ideas, visit JAN's Accommodation Information by Topic: A to Z: Pandemic Flu.

ATIA Announces Accessibility Event

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 used to develop an organization wide accessibility strategy. >> Get Details. >> For additional information on assistive technology, visit JAN's Accommodation Information by Topic: A to Z: Assistive Technology.

October 19-25, 2009, is Drug-Free Work Week

The purpose of Drug-Free Work Week is to highlight the importance of being drug free to workplace safety and to encourage workers with alcohol and drug problems to seek help so they can remain at or return to work as productive employees. This year marks the fourth observance of Drug-Free Work Week. Drug-Free Work Week is a dedicated time each year to highlight the benefits that drug-free workplace programs bring to employers, workers, and communities. >> Learn More. >> For accommodation ideas, visit JAN's Accommodation Information by Topic: A to Z: Accommodation Ideas for Drug Addiction.

October is National Dwarfism Awareness Month

Little People of America (LPA) celebrates the first annual National Dwarfism Awareness Month. Chapters and Districts across the United States will be participating in LPA Dwarfism Awareness Events, holding community outreach presentations, and reaching out to medical facilities and schools to share information about dwarfism. >> Learn more. >> For accommodation ideas, visit JAN's Accommodation Information by Disability: A to Z: Little People.

9 - JAN Exhibit and Training Schedule

Events of particular interest:

Get the most up-to-date and comprehensive training on employing people with disabilities. To view the complete JAN travel schedule go here: http://askjan.org/training/On-the-Road.htm

10 - Contact JAN

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This document was developed by the Job Accommodation Network, funded by a contract 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.

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