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ENews: Volume 8, Issue 1, First Quarter, 2010

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.

An e-mail announcement is sent to an opt-in list when a new issue is available. Please use the links at the end of this document to subscribe or unsubscribe.

Index

  1. Attention Federal Agencies: If You’re Not Using Schedule A, You’re Missing Out!
  2. Diversifying the U.S. Workforce to Include People with Disabilities
  3. Dysgraphia: Effective Transition Suggestions
  4. Recipe for Success: Website Accessibility
  5. Mobility Enhancing Devices, Part 2 of a 3 Part Series
  6. Paper and Article Address Geography of Disability
  7. JAN Releases New Resources
  8. E-vents
  9. JAN Exhibit and Training Schedule
  10. Contact JAN

1 - Attention Federal Agencies: If You’re Not Using Schedule A, You’re Missing Out!

Those of you working in federal agencies have to deal with a lot of bureaucracy and paperwork in just about everything you do, from purchasing equipment to something as simple as making changes on a Website. But one of the most cumbersome processes federal agencies have to deal with is the hiring process. By some reports, it takes an average of 102 days to complete all of the steps in the federal, competitive hiring process, from making the request to hire a person to the actual hiring. Did you know there is a way to streamline the hiring process, plus meet your obligation to hire people with disabilities and get qualified employees in the process? It’s called Schedule A hiring and it’s a simple way to hire applicants with disabilities non-competitively, without ever posting or publicizing the position. If you’re not using Schedule A, you are missing out on a great opportunity!

To find out more about how to use Schedule A, take a look at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) series of Schedule A guides for targeted audiences at: http://askjan.org/LEAD/

For more information about hiring and recruiting individuals with disabilities and about Schedule A hiring, see the first Webcast in JAN’s Federal Employer Winter Webcast Series: Hiring People with Disabilities in the Federal Government at http://askjan.org/webcast/archive/indexfed.htm.

To order copies of the brochures, visit:

- Linda Carter Batiste, J.D., Principal Consultant

2 - Diversifying the U.S. Workforce to Include People with Disabilities

Over the past decade, the business community and diversity experts have started to see the value of integrating people with disabilities into their diversity and marketing programs. In 2004, DiversityInc.’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity survey began to include questions regarding people with disabilities. In the following several years, a number of companies made great strides to include people with disabilities in their workforces. However, even with these advances, the diversity paradigm has not shifted. A 2007 HR Magazine article provided a summary of findings from the State of Workplace Diversity Management Report that included the following subtitle, “Majority of Companies Say They Haven’t Defined Diversity.” In addition to this reported weakness, the survey participants also reported another major challenge – that of the field’s focus on ethnicity and gender.

By all accounts, the percentage of people with disabilities in the workforce will continue to rise. Young people with disabilities are more educated and qualified than ever. With declining resources for retirement, many aging employees with disabilities are unable to retire as planned. More assistive technologies are available to provide cost effective strategies for accommodating workplace challenges faced by employees with disabilities. While these workplace demographics continue to change, the needs of business have not. They still need to hire and retain the best, most qualified person for a job – whether the employee needs to flex his schedule to ensure regular meals to stabilize his insulin levels, use a computer monitor magnifier to make documents easier to read, or use a screen reader to access his electronic work tools.

A number of legislative initiatives are being discussed to enable a productive but realistic work life balance. Many of these are designed for a more flexible work arrangement for the generation sandwiched between care of children and care of parents. In 2008, the Congress amended the Americans with Disabilities Act broadening the definition of disability from how it had been interpreted for the past decade or so. President Obama has increased the budget of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to include a significant number of new regulators. At the same time, technology is enabling employees to work from home or other temporary locations in completing their tasks. Whether employers are ready or not, the convergence of all of these trends ensures more people with disabilities will be engaged in the workforce.

- Louis E. Orslene, MPIA, MSW, Co-Director

3 - Dysgraphia: Effective Transition Suggestions

Dysgraphia is a type of learning disability that is characterized not only by difficulty or awkwardness in the physical process of writing, but also by the inability to organize thoughts onto paper. Odd and incorrect spelling and misuse of words are also indicative of a writing disability. Since good written communication skills are essential for many jobs, as well as post-secondary education and training, an individual with dysgraphia may need accommodations.

Accommodations for dysgraphia include voice activated software, digital recorders, electronic dictionaries, spell checkers, and more. Check out the JAN Website to access Accommodation and Compliance Series: Employees with Learning Disabilities - a publication that focuses on learning disabilities and common accommodations that might be helpful on the job. SOAR, our Searchable Online Accommodation Resource, is a valuable tool that can also assist with accommodations. Or better yet, e-mail or call for personal assistance from a JAN consultant who specializes in the area of learning disabilities. The services that JAN provides are free and confidential.

When high school graduates are transitioning into higher education or employment, it is important to remember the limitations of dysgraphia and how those limitations may impact the tasks required to be successful. An individual with a disability is never required to disclose a disability, but if accommodations are needed, disclosure is essential. Once the disability has been disclosed, the educational facility or the employer has the right to request documentation of the disability. In the case of a learning disability, the documentation will not be obtained from a physician but from a psychological-educational evaluation that was done in school to diagnose the educational difficulties the individual was having.

Because dysgraphia is a lifelong disability, no updated documentation should be needed if the individual was re-evaluated during his or her senior high years of school. Most public school systems will re-evaluate students during this time so that the student will have the most current documentation for the transition process. So hang on to that IEP! The documentation provided in the psychological-educational report as well as the IEP is priceless.

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

4 - Recipe for Success: Website Accessibility

Passing recipes from one generation to another is often a rite of passage for generations transitioning into adulthood. How do the elders in your family pass along recipes? Do they pass them along in print or verbally? Or, with today’s technology, do they pass them along electronically? It isn’t uncommon for many of us to rustle through old papers during the holiday season. Recently this old, bent, discolored card with an apple cider recipe written on it found its way to the top of the pile. Some 30 years ago, Granddad passed along his apple cider recipe to me one day while we picked a few apples from his orchard. Knowing he had terminal cancer, I cherished every lesson he tried to teach me so I hurried to write every detail on an old card I found in his 57 Chevy’s dashboard.

What if I couldn’t see, hear, or process the information he wanted to pass along in the way he needed to deliver it? Although it is unlikely the term “accommodation” would have been used, Granddad’s recipe would have most likely been given to me in an accessible format. If not, that recipe would have been lost forever.

Although the enormous amount of information available via the Internet cannot compare to that one tiny recipe, it is certainly important to realize that information conveyed through Websites can be lost forever. Take, for example, the enormous power of the Internet in raising donations to assist with the recovery from the earthquake in Haiti. The more accessible these Websites, the more money people can donate. Losing that opportunity because a Website is not accessible can affect generations to come.

The accessibility of Websites, including online application systems, continues to be an issue that some embrace and others ignore. Compare the implications of losing a small bit of family history to losing the opportunity to replenish a nation and it is obvious even the slightest piece of information can change how we view the world. Making Websites accessible is not a perfect science; however, for people with disabilities, there is still a great deal of information, especially multimedia applications, on the Internet that is not accessible because of poor Webpage design. Remember, if you are running a business and want to reach as many customers as possible, having an inaccessible Website means you will lose customers.

JAN’s updated publication Tips for Designing Accessible Websites gives a brief overview of ten vital tips to consider when designing a Website, including quick, testing, and design tips for certain aspects of a Website to ensure that applications are accessible. As Granddad would say about the apples he grew in his orchard for his apple cider, “There is always more work to be done.”

- Beth Loy, Ph.D., Principal Consultant

5 - Mobility Enhancing Devices, Part 2 of a 3 Part Series (Read Part 1)

There are a variety of wheelchairs designed for specific purposes, including transport chairs, manual wheelchairs, and powered wheelchairs. There are many accessories available, including a variety of cushions, mounting devices, trays, packs, and baskets.

TRANSPORT: These products are intended to be pushed by a companion and are designed for short trips to the mall, doctor offices, etc. They have very small tires that require no air.

MANUAL: These products are intended to be propelled by the user who has good upper body strength and dexterity. There are models for indoor and outdoor use. Most are lightweight and foldable for easy storage in the car or home. Leg rests are swing- away, removable and allow raising the user’s leg to a 90 degree angle.

POWERED: When selecting an electric powered model, one must decide if the primary use will be indoor or outdoor or both. There are three basic types: (1) Transportable-Easy transfer in/out of car trunk, many have foldable frames and certain sections can be disassembled; (2)-Powerbase-A tight turning radius, good battery range, and options for suspensions are key features. These models do not typically fold and must be transported by using wheelchair platform lifts or ramps.

HEAVY-DUTY: Mainly designed for outdoor use, most models have larger tires with tread for rugged terrain. They are suitable on inclines or uneven ground. Front wheel drive or mid wheel drive are options to the standard rear wheel drive models.

Accessories for most wheelchairs include specialty seat cushions and back supports, attachable umbrellas, portable/foldable ramps, bags, baskets and cup holders, and various attachments. For more information regarding product information, prices, specifications, and vendors, visit JAN's SOAR at:

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

6 - Paper and Article Address Geography of Disability

Dr. Helen Hartnett and Hanna Thurman, both from West Virginia University’s School of Social Work, in conjunction with Dr. Kim Cordingly, a Lead Consultant at the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), presented their paper "The Geography of Disability: Individuals' Perceptions of Employment Accommodation Decisions and Solutions," at the Council on Social Work Education Annual Meeting on November 7, 2009, in San Antonio, TX. The paper draws from data generated through JAN’s ongoing evaluation project of individuals who access JAN’s services regarding the accommodation process. Situating these findings in the context of social work practice, the authors sought to examine the perceptions of individuals with disabilities in the accommodation process as a vehicle for understanding how social workers can more effectively assist clients in the provision of support services. Disability rights advocates in social work have claimed that employment opportunities for people with disabilities are an important part of personal empowerment and social inclusion. The paper examines these efforts by incorporating the voices of individuals with disabilities who accessed JAN’s services and provides insightful information for social workers in recognizing the complexities of accommodation decisions and solutions for people with disabilities in the workplace. Understanding individuals’ perspectives may contribute to better accommodation outcomes for people with disabilities, employers, and advocacy professionals alike.

This paper was accepted as an article for publication in 2010 by the Journal of Social Work in Disability & Rehabilitation with the title “Individuals’ Perceptions of Employment Accommodation Decisions and Solutions: Lessons for Social Workers.” The authors initially focus on geographical variations in the data (e.g., mapping data through the use of geographic information systems or GIS software) as a tool of analysis, but in the article focus more strongly on the data as a whole as opposed to spatial differences.

Resources:

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

7 - JAN Releases New Resources

8 - E-vents

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 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.

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