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ENews: Volume 8, Issue 2, Second 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.


  1. JAN Launches AskJAN.org
  2. April is Alcohol Awareness Month
  3. April is Autism Awareness Month
  4. One in a Million: Employees with Rare Conditions
  5. Mobility Enhancing Devices, Part 3 of a 3 Part Series
  6. Report from CSUN
  7. JAN Releases New Resources
  8. E-vents
  9. JAN Exhibit and Training Schedule
  10. JAN Loses Friend
  11. Subscribe to JAN Newsletter

1 - JAN Launches AskJAN.org

JAN launched AskJAN.org on March 31, 2010. The revamped Website gives an up-to-date feel with new features and accessible communication tools. Focusing on providing quality electronic services promptly to customers, JAN's Website visitors can enjoy a new Training Hub and Newsroom area for access to JAN Consultant trainings, interviews, and quotes.

Did you know there are easy ways to communicate with JAN? Just look in the footer of every JAN Webpage so you can follow JAN on all the social networks or initiate a quick live chat with JAN staff via your browser. Other new Website features include JAN's Newsroom and Ready-to-Publish "Drop-In" Articles for Publications and easy Link to Us and How to Use this Site tools.

Want to learn more about Website accessibility? JAN provides technical assistance on how to make Websites accessible. Dive into the details with Recipe for Success: Website Accessibility and JAN's Accommodation and Compliance Series: Tips for Designing Accessible Webpages. For other timely and related resources:

Access more technical resources on JAN's A to Z: Online Applications and Web Accessibility.

- Beth Loy, Ph.D., Principal Consultant

2 - April is Alcohol Awareness Month

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) would like to recognize April as Alcohol Awareness Month by sharing with its community some known facts about alcoholism and employment. The latest statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (2009) estimate that there were 18.3 million individuals, living in the United States, who were classified as having an alcohol dependence and/or alcohol abuse disorder in 2008. This would be approximately 7.3% of the nation's population.

Alcoholism is a maladaptive pattern of alcohol abuse leading to three or more of the following symptoms: Increased tolerance for use of alcohol before feeling effects; withdrawal symptoms when the individual stops using alcohol; drinking alcohol often for a longer period or in larger amounts than intended; unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control the drinking of alcohol; excessive time spent obtaining alcohol, using alcohol and/or recovering from the effects of using alcohol; giving up of important social, occupational, or recreational activities due to alcohol use; and/or the alcohol use is continued despite physical or psychological problems that are likely to have been caused by alcohol use (American Psychiatric Association, 2000).

Significantly, 61% of adults who are classified as having a substance abuse and/or substance dependence disorder are employed full-time (SAMHSA, 2009). Most persons with substance abuse disorders retain employment despite the fact that persons with drinking problems are less likely to be employed than the general population (Terza, 2002). One study indicated that over the course of 15 years the wages of males with alcoholism was 6.6% less than those without alcoholism (Renna, 2008).

Alcohol abuse and dependence disorders often contribute to emotional, economic, and social costs to the individual with the disorder and to the society at large. A study in 1998 estimated the cost of alcohol abuse to be $184.6 billion (Harwood, 2000). This includes $86.4 billion in lost productivity due to alcohol related illness.

So what can employers do to reduce the effects of alcoholism in the workplace? One thing employers can do is provide reasonable accommodations for employees with alcoholism so they can continue to be productive employees. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employees with alcoholism who meet the definition of disability are entitled to accommodations for limitations associated with the alcoholism.

The following are some examples of the types of accommodations that may benefit employees with alcoholism. One thing to keep in mind is that employers are never required to provide accommodations so employees can drink alcohol.

For more information about accommodating employees with alcoholism, visit JAN's A to Z: Accommodation Ideas for Alcoholism.

And if you are faced with an employment situation involving an employee with alcoholism or you yourself have alcoholism and are trying to maintain employment, contact us as JAN and we will help in any way we can.


- Burr Corley, MSW, Consultant, Motor Team, and Linda Carter Batiste, J.D., Principal Consultant

3 - April is Autism Awareness Month

PUT ON THE PUZZLE this April as America recognizes Autism Awareness month! The Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon is the most recognized symbol of autism in the world. Autism prevalence is now one in every 110 children in America - that’s 13 million families and growing who live with autism today. Show your support for people with autism by wearing the Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon this month. The puzzle pattern of the ribbon reflects the mystery and complexity of the autism spectrum. The different colors and shapes represent the diversity of the people and families living with the condition. The brightness of the ribbon signals hope—hope that through increased awareness of autism, and through early intervention and appropriate treatments, people with autism will lead fuller, more complete lives (Autism Society of America, 2010).

Spread Autism Awareness! - www.autism-society.org

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a "spectrum disorder" that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause for autism. Asperger’s Syndrome is an autism-related disability. What distinguishes Asperger's Syndrome from autism? One of the major differences between Asperger's Syndrome and autism is that, by definition, there is no speech delay in Asperger's. In fact, people with Asperger's frequently have good language skills; they simply use language in different ways. Another distinction between autism and Asperger's concerns cognitive ability. Most people with Asperger’s possess average to above-average intelligence (Autism Society of America, 2010).

Just as the puzzle pieces on the ribbon represent the complexity of the individuals on the autism spectrum, the Job Accommodation Network looks at the complexity of the skills, limitations, and accommodation needs of employees on the autism spectrum. As with any other employee with a disability, each employee with autism or Asperger’s needs to be considered on an individual basis. JAN represents the most comprehensive resource for job accommodations available and can be very helpful in determining effective accommodations for complex issues. You can contact a JAN consultant via the telephone, e-mail, or an online chat for answers to accommodation questions. Log on to AskJAN.org for technical assistance and information.

Just as the colors of the ribbon stand for the diversity of the people with autism spectrum disorders, so should the accommodations provided be diverse. Even as individuals with the same disability but with different limitations in the same job may need a different array of accommodations, so individuals as diverse as those on the autism spectrum may each need a distinct assortment of accommodations based on the specific limitations they experience on the job. Again, JAN is at your service to provide individualized assistance and practical solutions to the accommodation issues these diverse disabilities present.

The brightness of the ribbon signals hope that those with autism will lead a fuller, more complete life. JAN has a mission to facilitate the employment and retention of workers with disabilities by providing employers, employment providers, people with disabilities, their family members, and other interested parties with information on job accommodations, self-employment, and small business opportunities. JAN's work has greatly enhanced the job opportunities of people with disabilities by providing information on job accommodations since 1983. A JAN study showed that employers who made accommodations for employees with disabilities reported multiple benefits as a result. Two of the most frequently mentioned direct benefits of providing accommodations were allowing the company to attract and retain a qualified employee, and increasing the worker’s productivity (Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact, 2009). Isn’t having a meaningful job and working to the best of our ability in that job a part of the American Dream we all share?

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

4 - One in a Million: Employees with Rare Conditions

People with rare conditions, also known as orphan syndromes, are working at full productivity in today's workforce. Although there is no single definition of rare condition, Bloom’s Syndrome, Familial Dysautonomia, Fanconi Anemia, Sarcoidosis, and Tuborous Sclerosis, are widely accepted examples. Employees with rare conditions may need no accommodations; however, there are situations where individuals may experience difficulties treating their rare conditions because services might not exist in the local area. Some services may even only exist outside of the United States. Thus, these employees might need job accommodations to access medical services and manage their conditions.

For employees who experience lengthy travel times for medical treatment, flexible scheduling, telecommuting, and additional leave are examples of job accommodations that can help. For treatment options outside of the United States, telephoning, instant messaging, and videoconferencing (sometimes at unusual hours) may be necessary. Other employees with rare conditions, whose life expectancy is shorter than average, may benefit from modifying a mandatory retirement contribution so that a contribution can go into an account with few (or no) tax consequences.

Keep in mind that employees with rare conditions might not need a lot of accommodations. Others might need accommodations that are no more complex than workers with other disabilities. Maintaining an open-door policy where an employer and employee can discuss accommodation needs is a simple best-practice for any accommodation process. This communication can go a long way toward building meaningful, trusting relationships between the employer and the employee.

For more information about rare conditions, please view the following list: http://AskJAN.org/cgi-win/DisQuery.exe?146f

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

Many wheelchair users have needs or desires for better mobility beyond the scope of standard or powered wheelchairs. The ability to stand, recline, or traverse rugged environments can be addressed by use of specialty wheelchairs.

Levo Standing Wheelchair

STANDING WHEELCHAIRS: Models come in manual or powered versions that allow the user to alternate between sitting and standing positions. Greater independence, health benefits, and activities of daily living are benefited by these devices.

Users are able to reach beyond a seated position without outside assistance. Changing positions is important to offset negative effects of prolonged sitting. Reaching high shelves, filing cabinets, and other work environment activities become possible. Cooking, cleaning, and accessing the home are enhanced when standing is required.

RECLINING WHEELCHAIRS: Wheelchairs that allow the user to recline make it easier for personal care providers. Users are able to nap, rest, or stretch out comfortably. These models recline up to 90 degrees but keep the seat parallel to the floor. Health benefits apply to users who have ongoing curvature of the spine issues, limited ability to sit upright, poor head or upper body control, and restrictive range of motion. However, reclining wheelchairs are usually longer than upright wheelchairs and are more difficult to transport in automobiles.

Invacare Tracer

ALL TERRAIN WHEELCHAIRS: For people who want to participate in outdoor activities, such as, visiting parks, woods, or the beach, these rugged mobility devices allow great turning, shock absorbing tires, and overall heavy duty performance. Models can be manual or powered. Self confidence can be boosted and pleasure is an attainable goal.

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

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

6 - Report from CSUN

In March, Lou Orslene, Teresa Goddard, and Lyssa Rowan traveled to San Diego, CA, for the 25th Annual International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference (CSUN). Teresa and Lyssa presented on the topic of Transitioning Youths with Speech Disorders: Reasonable Accommodation Situations and Solutions. They also talked with JAN booth visitors in the exhibit hall and were visited by Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathleen Martinez (see photo).

The Honorable Assistant Secretary Kathleen Martinez with JAN's Lyssa Rowan and Teresa Goddard

JAN staff members met with old friends from the Department of Defense's Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program, Department of Agriculture's TARGET Center, US Business Leadership Network, Bender Consulting, IBM, Microsoft, Trace Center, and the Assistive Technology Industry Association. Staff also attended a number of thought provoking sessions on topics including assistive technology, Web accessibility, and policy issues. Below are some highlights.

Captain Ivan Castro, one of three blind officers serving in the active-duty Army and the only blind officer serving in the U.S. Army Special Forces gave a moving Keynote Address in which he discussed how an overheard discussion about a marathon motivated him not only to run in a marathon and an Army ten-miler but also to maintain his independence and active military status. More information on Captain Castro's presentation can be found here.

Joshua Miele, a research scientist from the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute and Steven Landau, president of Touch Graphics, Inc., presented findings from an ongoing research project in which a specially programmed Livescribe Pulse smart pen was used to receive auditory information from maps, diagrams, and other teaching and learning tools printed textured on plastic paper. The presenters demonstrated how to use several applications including a scientific calculator with financial functions and a periodic table.

Dennis Lembrée, creator of Accessible Twitter, provided a session on Twitter accessibility for mobile, desktop, and Web applications. Accessible Twitter is an alternative site for Twitter users that is designed to be easily accessible for users with disabilities. With Accessible Twitter, all links are shown and accessible via keyboard navigation, structured markup is used for increased usability by screen reader users, and it is fully functional with JavaScript disabled. The page provides all of the functionality that the main Twitter site itself does, but offers more flexibility with accessibility features.

A great resource for any questions about Web accessibility is WebAIM. WebAIM is a non-profit organization hosted at the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University. WebAIM staff provided a number of sessions at CSUN on different aspects of Web accessibility, from ARIA to WAVE to cognitive Web accessibility. Copies of presentations (and a number of other great resources) are available from WebAIM's blog.

As always, the CSUN conference was an exciting opportunity for learning and networking. JAN staff enjoyed meeting everyone who stopped by the booth and hope to see you again soon!

- By Teresa Goddard, M.S., Consultant, Motor Team, and Lyssa Rowan, B.S., New Media Assistant

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 - JAN Loses Friend

Kevin Curtin, Director of the USDA TARGET Center, died on March 10, 2010. Kevin initiated several partnerships with JAN staff related to training and outreach. Although many conversations were related to accessible technologies, Website design, and Section 508, those that will be most remembered focused on family, sports, nature, and politics. Kevin will most of all be remembered as a friend with a terrific sense of humor.

11 - Subscribe to JAN Newsletter

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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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