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ENews: Volume 9, Issue 2, Second Quarter, 2011

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. ADAAA Regulations, Finally!
  2. The Interactive Process: Hurdles, Pitfalls, and Getting Out of Your Own Way
  3. May is Hepatitis Awareness Month
  4. Material Lifting Devices, Part 2 of a Continuing Series
  5. Spring Cleaning the Workplace
  6. Campaign for Disability Employment "I Can" PSA Honored at National Awards Ceremony
  7. JAN Releases New Resources
  8. E-vents
  9. JAN Exhibit and Training Schedule
  10. Subscribe to JAN Newsletter

1 - ADAAA Regulations, Finally!

More than two years after the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) went into effect, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued final regulations to help us understand just how broad the definition of disability now is. The overarching message of the regulations is that determining who has a disability should not be a drawn-out, complicated assessment, but for those of you who are not convinced, the regulations provide a lot of information to help convince you. Let's take a look at some of the highlights.

Substantially Limits:

As you may know, the definition of disability is the same as it always was – an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or being regarded as having an impairment. What changed was the meaning and application of the terms "substantially limits" and "major life activities." In the ADAAA itself, the term "major life activity" was clearly defined – the regulations added a few things, but did not make any major changes. However, the term "substantially limits" was not defined in the Act and although the regulations still do not define the term, they do provide nine rules of construction to help us understand how to determine whether a person is substantially limited. And in the accompanying appendix, the EEOC provides additional information and examples. For many people, these examples are the most useful part.

Virtually Always Covered Impairments:

Taking the nine rules of construction that apply to the term substantially limits, the EEOC provides examples of impairments that will virtually always meet the definition of disability. These impairments are: deafness, blindness, intellectual disability (formerly termed mental retardation), partially or completely missing limbs or mobility impairments requiring the use of a wheelchair, autism, cancer, cerebral palsy, diabetes, epilepsy, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia.

The regulations emphasize that the determination of disability is still done on a case by case basis, but the inherent nature of these impairments will in virtually all cases give rise to a substantial limitation of a major life activity.

Condition, Manner, and Duration:

For other impairments a bit more analysis may be needed. The regulations suggest that for people with these types of impairments, when determining whether the person is substantially limited, it may sometimes be useful to consider (as compared to most people in the general population) the condition under which the person performs the major life activity; the manner in which the person performs the major life activity; and/or the duration of time it takes the person to perform the major life activity, or for which the person can perform the major life activity.

The long-awaited regulations are here and for those of you who want to read more about them, see http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/adaaa_info.cfm and watch the JAN Website for updates!

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

2 - The Interactive Process: Hurdles, Pitfalls, and Getting Out of Your Own Way

What causes the accommodation process to break down without an effective solution? JAN research findings addressing the costs and benefits of job accommodations for people with disabilities also garner data about why the interactive process sometimes is not successful. Results consistently show that there are three major hurdles that impede an effective job accommodation solution:

Hurdle #1. Lack of information on what medical documentation an employer can request. For example, a lot of employees do not understand that employers can request certain medical documentation in response to an accommodation request, and if they fail to provide it, they may not be entitled to the needed reasonable accommodation.

To determine whether a particular employee has a disability, an employer may request medical documentation that shows whether the employee has an impairment and whether that impairment substantially limits one or more major life activities.

An employer may require that the documentation about the disability and limitations come from an appropriate health care or rehabilitation professional. Appropriate professionals include, but are not limited to, doctors (including psychiatrists), psychologists, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, vocational rehabilitation specialists, and licensed mental health professionals.

For more information on medical exams and inquiries, including forms for employers, individuals, and medical professionals, visit: http://AskJAN.org/topics/medexinq.htm

Hurdle #2. Lack of clarification on how to determine the essential functions of a position. For example, employees may request the removal of an essential function without realizing that this is not required as a reasonable accommodation.

An employer can require that an individual with a disability meet the skill, experience, education, and other job-related requirements of a position, including the performance of the essential functions of a job with or without an accommodation. To determine whether a job function is essential, the first consideration is whether employees in the position actually are required to perform the function. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there are several other reasons why a job function could be considered essential, including that there are a limited number of other employees available to perform the function or among whom the function can be distributed, a function is highly specialized, and that the person in the position is hired for special expertise or ability to perform the function. Evidence to be considered when determining whether a function is essential includes:

While employers are not required to eliminate an essential function, lower a production standard, or provide personal use items, they can do so if they wish. For information on identifying the essential functions of a job, including other relevant factors and examples, visit: http://AskJAN.org/links/ADAtam1.html#II

Hurdle #3. Lack of agreement on effective reasonable accommodations, including the role of temporary accommodations, leave time, and reassignment. For example, employees may reject an offer of reassignment not realizing that reassignment to a vacant position is a form of reasonable accommodation when there are not any available in the current position.

In most situations, employers should first consult with the employee who requested the accommodation to clarify what the individual needs and identify the appropriate reasonable accommodation. Often the employee will be the best resource for information about accommodation needs. By talking with the employee who requested the accommodation and obtaining medical information if needed, the employer should be able to identify what the problem is, which is the first step in determining effective accommodation solutions.

Once the employee's limitations and abilities are identified, the next step is to determine how they impact the employee's ability to perform the job. To make this determination, the employer needs to consider what specific job tasks, work environments, equipment, or policies are creating barriers to successful job performance. Sometimes it may be necessary to go beyond a traditional job description and consider other factors, such as what equipment is used to perform a task, where the work is performed, and why certain policies are being followed.

After the employer identifies the employee's limitations and abilities and determines how they impact job performance, the employer is ready to consider accommodation options. These options can include temporary accommodations, leave time, and reassignment, which can be all or part of an effective solution to a specific situation.

For more information on the determining accommodations, see: JAN's Five Practical Tips For Providing And Maintaining Effective Job Accommodations at http://AskJAN.org/media/FivePracticalTips.doc

These hurdles are sometimes pitfalls that could be avoided if the parties involved engaged in additional discussion prior to conflict. Obtaining information on your rights and responsibilities can expedite the accommodation process. To discuss your case in detail, contact JAN directly for one-on-one consultation.

- Beth Loy, Ph.D., Principal Consultant

3 - May is Hepatitis Awareness Month

In addition to the blooming flowers and warmer weather, May is recognized as National Hepatitis Awareness Month. JAN would like to take this opportunity to provide a basic overview of the most common types of hepatitis as well as accommodation solutions that can benefit employees with hepatitis.

While there are multiple types of hepatitis, types A, B, and C are the most common. According to the CDC there are an estimated 4.4 million Americans living with chronic hepatitis and most are not aware that they are infected. Treatment options and side effects of hepatitis viral infections differ among types. What this means for employees with hepatitis and employers is that accommodations need to be evaluated on an individual basis, just as in any other situation.

Each type of hepatitis has varying identifying characteristics. So what are they? Well, hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV) and does not result in chronic infection or chronic liver disease. Symptoms can include but are not limited to nausea, loss of appetite, fever, fatigue, or abdominal pain. Once individuals are infected with HAV they build antibodies, which prevent them from ever becoming infected again. The average incubation period for hepatitis A is 28 days (CDC, 2011) and the best way to prevent HAV infection, aside from good hygiene, is to get the hepatitis A vaccine.

Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and can be acute or chronic. Symptoms of acute HBV are similar to those present with HAV (nausea, fatigue, fever, etc.) and begin around 90 days after exposure. Acute HBV symptoms can last for several weeks or persist for up to 6 months and the majority of adults infected (95%) will recover completely and not become chronically infected (CDC, 2011). There is no cure for HBV, but the rates of new HBV infections have declined since routine vaccinations of children have been recommended.

Hepatitis C, caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV), is the most common chronic bloodborne infection in the United States (CDC, 2011). HCV is largely transmitted through exposure to infected blood and individuals who are newly infected can be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms including fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, abdominal pain, and nausea. Those with chronic HCV infection can have chronic liver disease, which in severe cases can include cirrhosis and liver cancer. Treatment therapy and duration of treatment for HCV is dependent on the HCV genotype and individuals may rely on medical professionals from a variety of specialties in their treatment regimen.

With all of the various types of hepatitis and range of symptoms it might seem like finding the right accommodation solution would be a confusing task, but it does not have to be! An employer should work with employees needing accommodations to determine what limitations they are experiencing and how these limitations are impacting their ability to perform their job. Employees may have suggestions that could be helpful for the employer and its okay for them to be part of the discussion, especially since the employee will be the one using the accommodation and will want it to work. Once the appropriate accommodations have been put into place, it's important to make sure that they are working effectively and to see if any additional accommodations are needed. Common options to think about when an employee with hepatitis has asked for accommodations include:

For more information about accommodating employees with hepatitis, visit http://AskJAN.org/media/hepa.htm

Resources: Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Viral hepatitis. Retrieved April 21, 2011, from http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/index.htm

- Elisabeth Simpson, M.S., Consultant, Motor / Sensory Team

4 - Material Lifting Devices, Part 2 of a Continuing Series

Integrated Ergonomic VB Vacuum-Hoist Lifting System

As stated in Part 1 of this series, many material lifting devices are designed for use with large, heavy objects. Repetitive lifting/handling of heavy loads are major causes of work related injuries. Vacuum lift systems are ergonomic devices designed to make material lifting easier and safer. These systems are excellent preventative products and use a vacuum to grip and lift heavy loads. These products can be used in a variety of work environments and can be used to handle boxes and cartons, sacks and bags, drums and barrels, rolls and reels, pallets, electronics, and many other items. Because these lifts are overhead, items can be safely lifted, allowed to dwell at a workable height, and rotated 360 degrees for inspection purposes. Two recent examples of JAN calls illustrate these points.

An operator can use these material handling devices for small but heavy loads as well. The Microlex from Vacutrade USA lifts up to 75 lbs and is usually powered by an electric non-lubricated rotary vane pump or a compressed air pump. Typical use would include lifting doors, batteries, computers, paint containers, cartons, and other light loads. Operators can use one hand to manipulate the item. Manually operated suction hand cups are used for even smaller, lighter needs. These small hand-held cups use lever action or pump action. They will hold on to most smooth, dry, nonporous surfaces such as glass, metal, fiberglass, linoleum, or polished stone. Ideal for preventing cuts to the hands, strains, and aches, these products are reliable and inexpensive. Below are product links to vacuum lift systems:

The Job Accommodation Network does not sell lifting devices, but we do make information available as to manufacturers and distributors of lifting devices. For more information regarding product information, prices, specifications, and vendors, visit JAN's SOAR at:

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

5 - Spring Cleaning the Workplace

After the long, dark, and cold winter it seems spring has finally come. We look forward to the flowers, the birdsong, and getting outside to get fresh air. We also look forward to the opportunity to spring clean our homes, workspaces, and classrooms. What better time to get rid of clutter and lighten up? It would be a much easier task if it were one we kept up on throughout the year, but most of us find that difficult to do. Many people do have organizational difficulties brought on by attention deficit or attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. For others who might be having cognitive and/or fatigue issues due to cancer treatments, fibromyalgia, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, or other impairments, organization can be very difficult.

For those of you who work from home, you may find it even more difficult to keep up with the clutter in your workspace. Maybe the fact that you do not have co-workers who can see your mess makes it easier to let it go and let it grow! There is a chance at home that the things not belonging in our offices have an easier time of showing up there.

Regardless of whether you work in a classroom, an office, a cubicle, or a home office, reducing the disarray in your workspace may very well increase your sense of professionalism and increase your productivity. Look to the following tips to help organize your workspace and reduce your clutter to a more manageable level.

Having an efficient usable workspace isn't about it looking good, it's more about the space being functional for you and your needs in your particular job.

Try to reserve 10 minutes at the end of each day to put things away, clear off your workspace, and prepare for the next day. You can control the clutter by not allowing it to accumulate. Then when next spring rolls around, you may be able to spend more time enjoying the flowers, the birds, and the fresh air.

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

6 - Campaign for Disability Employment "I Can" PSA Honored at National Awards Ceremony

The Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE) received Honorable Mention in the category of Best Use of Audio/Video for the "I Can" video public service announcement (PSA) at the 2010 PRWeek Awards held in New York City, March 10, 2011. Each year, PRWeek awards corporate, nonprofit, agency, and educational institutions in recognition of excellence in public relations activities. The Best Use of Audio/Video award recognizes the combination of creativity, cost effectiveness, and overall impact of the PSA and Campaign initiative. One PRWeek judge said the "I Can" PSA Campaign is a "Thought-provoking concept that shined through with the video element."

Responding to the accolade, Kathleen Martinez, Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), noted that, "It is an honor for the CDE to be recognized for creatively promoting employment of people with disabilities in a meaningful and impactful way." "I Can" features seven people with disabilities sharing what they "can do" on the job when given the opportunity. The PSA participants represent different ages, genders, ethnic backgrounds and disabilities – some of which are apparent and some not. Ms. Martinez added, "I Can" reflects the diversity of skills people with disabilities have to offer and demonstrates their capacity to work for businesses of all sizes and industries." The PSA challenges common misconceptions about disability and employment and reminds viewers that at work, it's what people CAN do that matters.

To view "I Can," order free outreach tools, and learn more about the CDE's "What can YOU do?" initiative, please visit whatcanyoudocampaign.org. Become a supporter of the CDE's mission to promote positive employment outcomes for people with disabilities by hiring, retaining and advancing skilled, qualified workers with disabilities and sharing the important message that, "At work, it's what people CAN do that matters." The CDE is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).

- By Tracie DeFreitas Saab, M.S., Program Manager, Campaign for Disability Employment

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 - Subscribe to JAN Newsletter

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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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