Spotlight on National Epilepsy Awareness Month

Posted by Kim Cordingly on November 26, 2013 under Accommodations, Consultants' Corner, Employers, Organizations, Webcasts | Comments are off for this article

By: Melanie Whetzel, Senior Consultant, Cognitive/Neurological Team

November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month focusing attention on the experiences of individuals with epilepsy and seizure disorders in many aspects of their daily lives, including employment. JAN is offering the following information as a way to highlight the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and accommodation issues pertinent to employees with epilepsy in the workplace.

Are you seeking information on workplace accommodations related to epilepsy and seizure disorders? If you are, you are not alone!  JAN has responded to over 330 inquiries so far this year concerning these type of medical conditions. We are your connection to a wealth of information available to assist you. These resources include a recent Webcast on Epilepsy Accommodations that has been archived for viewing; an Accommodation and Compliance Series: Employees with Epilepsy; an EEOC Fact Sheet: Questions and Answers about Epilepsy in the Workplace and ADA; a Consultant’s Corner: Epilepsy, Driving, and Employment; as well as a brand-new Searchable Online Accommodation Resource (SOAR) page on epilepsy. If you have a specific situation you would like to discuss, JAN consultants can provide one-on-one assistance. There are a variety of ways to access our services. We can be reached through our toll-free telephone line at (800) 526-7234 (Voice) or (877) 781-9403 (TTY); conduct a live online chat; send an E-mail through our JAN on Demand feature; or access us on a variety of social networks.  Don’t let your questions go unanswered – contact us here at JAN for personalized expert assistance.

Learn How the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC) Can Help You!

Posted by Kim Cordingly on November 8, 2013 under Accommodations, Employers, Organizations | Comments are off for this article

By: MSKTC Staff

Do you have a spinal cord injury (SCI), traumatic brain injury (TBI), or burn injury? Or do you care for someone who does?

If the answer to either of these questions is yes, the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC) is a free resource that can help you. The MSKTC develops easy-to-access resources such as factsheets, slideshows, and videos to support individuals living with SCI, TBI and burn injury. Best of all, these resources are research-based and developed in collaboration with leading SCI, TBI, and burn injury researchers from Model Systems funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.

Examples of resources include:

  • Factsheets, which give brief overviews of information on key topics relating to SCI, TBI, and burn injury
  • Slideshows, that translate research information in an easy-to-understand format
  • Videos, which show how Model Systems research benefits end users
  • Hot Topics Modules, that bundle factsheets, slideshows, and videos based on Model Systems research

Example resources that can help you seek and maintain employment, and help develop your employment skillset include:

SCI

TBI

Burn Injury

Participate in Research Studies

The MSKTC also recruits individuals 18 years and older with SCI, TBI, or burn injury and the people who care for them to participate in research studies and test consumer factsheets. To share your experiences to help others in the future, please call Mahlet Megra, (202) 403-5600 or email msktc@air.org

Additional Resources

For more information on the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC), visit: http://www.msktc.org

JAN and Vocational Psychiatric Rehabilitation Programs Provide Complementary Employment Supports

Posted by Kim Cordingly on July 31, 2013 under Accommodations, Organizations | Comments are off for this article

By: Kim Cordingly, Lead Consultant

For applicants or employees who are in mental health recovery and struggling vocationally (including family members, friends or professionals who are assisting them), it may be helpful to consider looking into the availability of psychiatric rehabilitation programs in their area. According to Boston University’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, the mission of this approach is to assist individuals in mental health recovery to choose, obtain, and maintain their preferred living, learning, socializing, and working roles. Practitioners can assist individuals to set and achieve vocational goals on a continuum from an initial engagement around a person’s general interest in working, to a goal aimed at increasing skills and supports in order to become more successful and satisfied in their chosen job role. This is achieved in the most consumer-driven way possible, beginning from where the person is “at” vocationally.

An example of an experience that can be facilitated by this approach is known as the process of “choosing a valued role.” Historically, people with psychiatric disabilities have been “placed” into their various life roles (e.g., residential, vocational, etc.) often with little or no direct involvement. The opportunity, perhaps for the first time in that person’s life, to engage in a systematic process of actively choosing from among several well-researched alternative job roles – with the assistance of a skilled counselor — can in itself be a “recovery-launching” experience.

JAN’s services can complement this type of individualized and choice-driven employment process. Our consultants can respond to questions from individuals, vocational counselors, or employers regarding workplace accommodations, the employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or entrepreneurship options. All services are free and confidential. JAN’s Website can be very helpful to job seekers with mental health impairments providing information and resources that address issues such as disclosure of a disability; finding the right job; examples of potential accommodations; ADA guidance; and a wide variety of other employment issues. The portal designated for “Job Seekers” under “For Individuals” on the JAN Home Page is a good starting point.

Regarding psychiatric rehabilitation programs, a variety of mental health provider organizations offer services based on this holistic approach. They are available in a variety of implementation types including individual practitioners, group programs, mobile programs, inpatient programs, clubhouse programs, and peer support services. Your local community mental health organization or case management/service coordination agency may be a good place to begin an inquiry into programs available in your local community.

Vocational psychiatric rehabilitation can be an essential complement to the array of treatment, enrichment, and other types of services available to assist people in their mental health recovery journeys. Success and satisfaction in a valued vocational role is often a major contributing factor to a person’s growth toward a full recovery. JAN can contribute to an individual’s success in the workplace by providing individualized accommodation suggestions and responding to questions about the ADA. Below are select resources available on JAN’s Website that may be especially helpful.

Resources:

What Are the JAN Consultants Reading?

Posted by Kim Cordingly on April 29, 2013 under Accommodations, Blogging with JAN, Entrepreneurship / Self Employment, Organizations | Comments are off for this article

In what we hope will become a regular Blog feature, we’d like to share with you some of what the JAN consultants are currently reading. In our lives, we’re all so inundated with information – articles, books, reports, policy documents, and so on. Sometimes it’s helpful to hear what others find useful. In the field of disability, accommodation, and employment, our consultants read a wide variety of materials. We hope this will inspire you to check out what they find informative and inspiring.

Linda – Principal Consultant

If you work and also care for a family member who has a disability, you may wonder whether your employer has to provide you with the accommodations you need so you can care for your family member. JAN provides information about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. The ADA does not require employers to provide accommodations for employees who have family members with disabilities, but it does prohibit discrimination on the basis of such associations. This means, for example, if your employer grants schedule modifications to other employees for child care, then it would probably be discriminatory not to grant you a schedule modification so you can care for a family member with a disability. This is referred to as the “Association Provision” of the ADA.

I find the following document particularly helpful on this topic and refer JAN’s customers to it:

Also, there may be other laws that provide you with rights related to caring for a family member with a disability. As a starting point, see:

If you would like to share your experience with working and caring for a family member with a disability, feel free to do so here.

Daniel – Consultant on the Cognitive/Neurological Team

I recently read an article published in the journal Behavior Research and Therapy entitled “Separating Hoarding from OCD.” I discovered this article as part of my research for a piece I’m writing for JAN about hoarding in the workplace. The article does a great job of explaining the current confusion over what excessive hoarding is exactly, and the reasons why it should not be lumped in with OCD. Here are some of the differences between hoarding and OCD identified in the article:

  • There are more than five times as many excessive hoarders as individuals with OCD.
  • Not everyone with OCD engages in excessive hoarding. It is estimated that between 11% and 33% of individuals with OCD are also excessive hoarders.
  • Individuals with OCD often have “insight” into their condition, recognizing that their behavior is irrational and problematic while excessive hoarders usually do not.
  • Excessive hoarding is unresponsive to traditional cognitive behavioral therapy and medications that are often effective in the treatment of OCD.

For more information about this article see:

Beth – Principal Consultant

I recently read Michael Hingson’s Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero.

This New York Times best-seller by Michael Hingson tells the true story of how he and his guide dog Roselle survived 9/11. Blind since birth, Michael is an inspirational speaker who lost Roselle in 2011, but shares his fond memories with readers. The book tells the engaging story of how Roselle saved the lives of Michael and many others who were in the World Trade Center on that fateful day.

Look here for more information on Michael Hingson and his book.

Teresa – Senior Consultant on the Sensory Team

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month so in preparation, I’m re-reading an old favorite by West Virginia University’s own Ken St. Louis entitled Living with Stuttering: Stories, Basics, Resources, and Hope. The book discusses, “the current explanations and treatments for stuttering while recognizing that the different ways in which stutterers are affected go deeper than their struggles with fluency; the effects are as diverse as the vast stuttering population itself.”

For more information see:

Anne – Co-Director

Maybe it’s because my youngest is graduating from high school this month and will be off to college soon, but I’ve been reading a good bit about the aging workforce. One very interesting piece was recently released by ODEP’s NTAR Leadership Center entitled The Aging Workforce: The Role of Medical Professionals in Helping Older Workers and Workers with Disabilities to Stay at Work or Return to Work and Remain Employed by Maria Heidkamp and Jennifer Christain, MD, MPH. The report was the outgrowth of a one-day roundtable event in 2012 — convened to explore the relationship among, “medical professionals, employers, and the public workforce and vocational rehabilitation systems in terms of their current and desired roles in preventing work disability, with ‘disability’ in this context defined as the absence from work due to a medical condition.”

JAN has a couple of documents on the Website that may be of interest to those interested in this topic as well.

Tracie – Lead Consultant

JAN receives many inquiries from employers and employees who have questions related to the ADA and performance and conduct standards. In some cases, an individual’s disability may contribute to performance or conduct issues. JAN offers information to help people understand how the ADA applies to these sometimes complicated employment situations. My go-to resource on the topic is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidance on this topic — The Americans with Disabilities Act: Applying Performance and Conduct Standards to Employees with Disabilities.

Melanie – Senior Consultant on the Cognitive/Neurological Team

I’ve been working on gathering and assimilating information and accommodation ideas on executive functioning for an upcoming JAN Webcast. Executive functioning involves abilities such as planning, organizing, managing time, paying attention, and remembering details. One book I’ve been reading that has been particularly helpful is Dyslexia in the Workplace by Diana Bartlett and Sylvia Moody.

Kim – Lead Consultant on the Self-Employment Team

I receive a number of inquiries from individuals with disabilities wanting to start craft, art, or handmade product related businesses. These skillfully produced creative items can include quilts, pottery, stained glass, photography, collage, jewelry, wind chimes, woodworking, and so on. In my research, I came across a book by Kari Chapin called The Handmade Marketplace – How to Sell Your Crafts Locally, Globally, and Online. JAN’s customers frequently have questions about how to successfully market their products and use social media effectively. This book includes very useful information on both of these topics – presenting it in a very informative and accessible way.