Thoughts from JAN’s Co-Directors for National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Posted by Kim Cordingly on October 30, 2013 under Accommodations, ADAAA, Employers, Entrepreneurship / Self Employment, General Information | Comments are off for this article

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and this year’s theme is “Because We Are EQUAL to the Task.” While this month is a great time to raise awareness of the many valuable contributions of America’s workers with disabilities, it’s also an opportunity to reflect on the many changes over the years in how we think about disability and employment.

Job Accommodation Network (JAN) co-directors Anne Hirsh and Lou Orslene have a collective 40+ years of experience providing leadership at JAN. As the JAN Blog editor, I thought this was an opportune time to ask them to share their views on some of the issues at the heart of increasing employment opportunities for individuals with all types of disabilities.

In my initial question, I asked Anne and Lou to talk about the biggest changes they’ve observed during their tenure at JAN for people with disabilities in the employment arena.

Anne’s immediate reply was the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). She and I both began working at JAN prior to the passage of the ADA, so witnessed firsthand what a game changer this was. In those early days, some of the first questions regarding the employment provisions of the ADA were fielded by JAN consultants, with Anne coordinating our rapid increase in call volume. A related point she emphasized was the pathway created by the ADA for an individual to disclose one’s disability and subsequently request an accommodation. JAN’s work over the years has been at the forefront of facilitating this process.

On another front, Anne reflected on changes over the past 10-15 years when JAN received calls from parents asking about their children with disabilities transitioning from school to work. In recent years however, the tables have turned in that we’re now receiving an increasing number of calls from adult children contacting us about aging parents who acquire disabilities later in life and need to continue to work. Lou remarked this is a major shift in today’s workforce – many individuals are working longer while still being affected by the aging process. He suggested that employers should have proactive policies and training related to disability and employment because we are all likely in our lifetimes to be impacted by health issues in the context of work. Employers are starting to recognize the benefits of retaining aging employees who, despite an impairment, are capable of continuing to contribute to a business’ success.

Another change Anne remarked on was the increase in the number of students with disabilities in the higher education system. Lou added that particularly in his travel to conferences and training events, he encounters many more highly trained young adults with disabilities applying for positions or currently employed. This progress was fostered by the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). He remarked that while there is still much room for much improvement in educational parity and hiring rates, notable progress has been made. Programs like the Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students with Disabilities (WRP) and other internship programs are designed to enable talented and motivated college students and graduates to reach their goal of a productive career in their chosen field.

Likewise in the education arena, Lou pointed out that veterans with service-connected disabilities returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are taking advantage of the Post-911 GI Bill, which supports their educational goals and transition into civilian employment. This will mean more disabled veterans will be entering the workforce or choosing entrepreneurship, which will further diversify and strengthen our economy.

Lou noted a change as well in how we think about inclusion and diversity. It has become more commonplace for issues around disability to be incorporated into mainstream diversity programs and policies, whereas in the past, this was not the case. This shift means that expectations are changing as to what a diverse and inclusive workforce looks like. He added, “We can only expect this shift to increase in speed with the broadening of the coverage under the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) along with the new Section 503 regulations.”

My second question for Anne and Lou involved what they saw as the greatest contributions JAN has made in advancing employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities over the past 30 years.

For both Anne and Lou, two words exemplified what they saw as one of JAN’s most important contributions – confidence and competence. For individuals with disabilities, JAN consultants have educated customers on how to become better self-advocates. After thousands of calls to JAN — ultimately one conversation at a time — consultants have provided the information, resources, and guidance so that individuals can become more knowledgeable and empowered to move forward with their goals. Lou explained the same is true for the employers who have contacted JAN. Often HR professionals or managers encounter situations with applicants or employees where they are unsure what to do. They may have an ADA question, a particular accommodation situation, or both. JAN’s consulting services provide a free and confidential way for employers to discuss these situations and concerns. Employers therefore feel more confident and competent when hiring and accommodating qualified workers with disabilities; applicants and employees with disabilities feel more empowered to voice what they need to be successful on the job.

Anne highlighted a second unique JAN contribution — the role our consultants play in problem solving and sharing potential accommodations solutions with customers on a case by case basis. Lou pointed out this knowledge is then shared through JAN’s networking and training with other organizations – particularly service providers. He believes this outreach has expanded with JAN’s effective use of social networking tools and training platforms. Lou emphasized JAN’s strong commitment to support the work of other organizations thereby connecting people and organizations together in support of our collective goal of creating a more inclusive workforce.

My final question for Anne and Lou was on a more personal note – asking each to comment on what they feel is the best part of their jobs as co-directors at JAN.

Both Anne and Lou emphatically stated the best part of their job was making an impact on the lives of the customers JAN serves. As co-directors, both spend a great deal of time on the road and they each stated how blown away they are by the stories they are told about how someone’s life was affected by the guidance they received from JAN. These affirmations are received as well on an ongoing basis through emails, phone calls, and follow-up data. Anne attributes this success to the JAN staff, who she describes as “some of the most dedicated people she knows.” Both said they are constantly amazed at the day-to-day effort and passion the staff brings to their work.

Editor’s Note: Thank you to Anne and Lou for sharing their thoughts for this Blog. The JAN staff appreciates their vision, dedication and leadership.

It’s Back to School Time – Accommodating Educators with Disabilities

Posted by Kim Cordingly on August 23, 2013 under Accommodations, Employers | Comments are off for this article

By: Melanie Whetzel, M.A., Senior Consultant, Cognitive / Neurological Team

Unless you have been living with your head in the sand at your favorite beach, you know that the back-to-school season is upon us. If you have ventured into any retail store, the signs are hard to miss — paper, markers, pens, pencils, lunch boxes, and other back-to-school trappings are being marketed near the front of almost every retailer. Television commercials abound.  If you are one of those educators who cannot wait to get back into the classroom, you have no doubt seen the marketing blitz and have welcomed it. Starting a new school year can be very exciting!  But if you are an educator who is apprehensive because of difficulties in the classroom due to disabilities, you may not be quite as eager to get back into the daily grind. School supplies everywhere may cause a feeling of trepidation.

If accommodations are needed in the workplace because of a disability, the earlier you take care of requesting those accommodations, the better. Accommodations that are put into place before the school year actually begins will go a long way towards easing your mind and allowing you more confidence and success in the classroom.

Below are examples of actual accommodation situations and solutions fielded by JAN consultants that may lead to a more effective school year:

A preschool teacher with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) could not get to work early enough to take his turn in the early bus schedule, but had no problems staying after school for the late bus duty. He asked for the accommodation of exchanging his early duties with another teacher who just preferred not to do the after-school duty. The accommodation was approved allowing him to do two turns of the after-school duty in exchange for no early duty.

An elementary school principal was undergoing treatment for cancer that left him extremely fatigued. He asked for a rest period each day as an accommodation. The school district had no problem with the accommodation request, but they were uncomfortable with his idea of using a roll-away cot in his office. JAN suggested using a recliner in the corner of the office, so when not in use, it looked and functioned as an ordinary chair. This would provide the principal the ability to put his feet up and recline for rest. The district was very pleased with the recliner solution.

A secondary music teacher with major depression asked for the accommodation of moving his classroom to a quieter location. There was an empty classroom in the basement of the building where there would be no classes on either side. The accommodation was granted. A walkie talkie was provided so the teacher could call the office if he needed assistance because there were no call buttons in the basement.

An elementary teacher with bone cancer was accommodated with a designated parking space near the school entrance that was closest to her classroom. They also redistributed some of the duties to paraprofessionals in the building which allowed for assistance with escorting the children to the cafeteria, the art and music rooms, and the gymnasium.

A college professor who had incurred a traumatic brain injury (TBI) was accommodated by rescheduling departmental meetings and classes she taught to 11am  in the morning or later. She then used the uninterrupted morning hours to get her planning, reading, studying, and administrative duties done.

For more accommodation ideas, see Educators with Disabilities.

As you can see from the above examples, effective accommodations can be fairly simple, creative, and put smoothly into place. If you need accommodations to start out the new school year, consider contacting JAN. We can provide assistance with questions you may have concerning any step in the process.

Once you have the needed accommodations in place, you can relax and look forward with excitement to that first day of school, just like your students do!

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.


JAN Guest Interview: Dinah Cohen, Director of the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP), U.S. Department of Defense

Posted by Kim Cordingly on July 16, 2013 under Accommodations, Employers, Products / Technology, Veterans Issues | Comments are off for this article

Dinah Cohen is the Director of the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) at the U.S. Department of Defense. Ms. Cohen works closely with senior leadership throughout the Federal sector to ensure employees, beneficiaries, and members of the public with disabilities have equal access to Federal services and employment. Ms. Cohen also initiated a program to provide assistive technology and accommodation support to wounded service members to aid in their rehabilitation and recovery process.

Dr. Beth Loy, a Principal Consultant at JAN,  had the privilege of interviewing Ms. Cohen this month about the mission of the CAP program, the importance of making effective accommodations in the Federal sector, and their role in ensuring people with disabilities have equal access to Federal employment opportunities.

Can you talk about CAP, its mission, and how CAP’s mission has changed over the last few years?

The Department of Defense (DoD) established the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) to eliminate employment barriers for people with disabilities.  CAP’s mission, since its inception in 1990, is to provide assistive technology and accommodations to ensure people with disabilities and wounded Services members have equal access to the information environment and opportunities in the DoD and throughout the Federal Government.

CAP has expanded beyond the DoD to partner with 68 federal agencies making it the largest provider of reasonable accommodations in the world.  The program’s vision is to increase employment of people with disabilities and disabled veterans by ensuring they have access to accommodations throughout the DoD and Federal Government.

Since 9/11, we are seeing more disabled veterans returning to the workplace as civilians with a range of disabling conditions. They are tech-savvy and are ready to work. The assistive technology options still lag behind the general technology changes. 

What do you feel is the most important change you have seen in the field of assistive technology since being the Director of CAP?

I have noticed there are more assistive technology solutions and successful integration of the technologies that can address the needs of individuals with multiple disabling conditions. Next, the cost of accommodations has gone down and I have noticed there are more embedded solutions in the operating systems and general applications and tools. Since the baby boomers are getting older, the market for enhancements and some accommodations are being required by a larger number of individuals.

 For individuals who are reluctant to ask for modifications on the job, what can CAP do to support them?

I believe if the individual is armed with the information of their assistive technology needs AND the FREE price tag, they would be more comfortable requesting the accommodation solution. Most individuals are hesitate to bring the accommodation conversation to managers IF they think it will add a cost factor to the decision for employment OR they are not sure what would work. The employee should be familiar with their accommodation solutions to help with this conversation

 What trends do you think will occur in the near future in the field of assistive technology?

The new mobile environment has provided flexibility and user-friendly solutions to many individuals with disabilities via lots of free apps and embedded technologies. There will always be a need for some assistive technology solutions to support an individual in the workplace. We need employers to consider the needs of their employees with disabilities as they move forward on their strategic plans for the company/agency’s information environment and enterprise solutions. More and more able-body and people with disabilities want to have a flexible work environment and telework. Unless we are looking on how to provide the right tools for EVERYBODY and have a secure and flexible information environment, we will miss the opportunity of being the employer of choice.

Can you give an example of a situation involving an individual who came to CAP, received assistive technologies, and was successful in implementing the technologies at work?

We have over 100,000 stories on how we have provided accommodations and how the individual has used it in the workplace. I encourage your readers to go to the CAP website and see the videos of the technologies and to YouTube to hear the testimonial of our customers and how they are using the technology in the work place at

Anything else…

I encourage your readers to visit our Website, download the CAP APP, be a CAP Fan and continue to work with CAP and JAN to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities and wounded Service members.

Cómo comunicar las discapacidades y las acomodaciones a los compañeros de trabajo

Posted by Kim Cordingly on June 12, 2013 under Accommodations, JAN en Espanol | Comments are off for this article

Cómo comunicar las discapacidades y las acomodaciones a los compañeros de trabajo.

El Acta para Americanos con Discapacidades prohíbe a los empleadores comunicar a los compañeros de trabajo cualquier información relacionada con la discapacidad de un empleado, incluyendo el hecho de que un empleado está recibiendo una acomodación. Sin embargo, en ciertos casos el empleado voluntariamente quiere informar a sus compañeros acerca de una discapacidad y de su acomodación, especialmente si ellos notarán la acomodación de todos modos. Por ejemplo, si un empleado con discapacidades utilizará un perro de servicio en el trabajo puede ser conveniente educar a los compañeros acerca de cómo tratar con animales de servicio. Otro ejemplo es cuando un empleado tiene alergias severas y necesita evitar la exposición involuntaria a los alérgenos durante las horas de trabajo.

Las siguientes son líneas generales para aquellos empleados con discapacidades que deseen informar a sus compañeros de trabajo acerca de su discapacidad y sus acomodaciones:

  • Mantenga la conversación relacionada a la jornada laboral.
  • Indíqueles a sus compañeros los motivos por los cuales usted comunica su discapacidad.
  • No suponga que sus compañeros saben de qué se trata su discapacidad; prepárese para dar información básica y general si fuera relevante.
  • Indíqueles a sus compañeros qué necesita de ellos y por qué.
  • Explíqueles a sus compañeros cuáles son las acomodaciones que necesitará y cómo le ayudarán a realizar su trabajo.
  • Sea positivo y abierto pero limite la información que comparta según se sienta cómodo.

Para obtener más información contacte a la Red de Acomodación en el Empleo JAN.

Acomodaciones en el empleo: desde el estilo casero al estilo gourmet

Posted by Kim Cordingly on June 6, 2013 under Accommodations, JAN en Espanol | Comments are off for this article

Acomodaciones en el empleo: desde el estilo casero al estilo gourmet

Existen acomodaciones en el empleo de todas las formas y todos los tamaños, las hay de naturaleza muy técnica o las hay muy simples. Veamos algunos ejemplos de cómo JAN ha asistido a la pequeña empresa con acomodaciones que fueron más caseras que gourmet.

Ejemplo: Un auxiliar administrativo con el síndrome de túnel carpiano tenía problemas al abrir y cerrar carpetas llenas de papeles. Dos opciones de acomodación gourmet habrían sido reemplazar todo el sistema de registro con un fichero automatizado o reemplazar las carpetas con modelos nuevos y fáciles de abrir.

La acomodación casera que sugirió JAN fue: ¿Qué tal si se abren los broches de los anillos de la carpeta con un destapador de botella clásico? De esta forma, el empleado era capaz de agarrar cómodamente el destapador, conectarlo al broche, y abrir/cerrar con eficacia una carpeta sin prensión excesiva.

Ejemplo: Un consultor con una lesión en el hombro tenía dificultades para usar el ratón del computador. Debido a su lesión, ajustó su teclado articulado y la bandeja del ratón en un ángulo tan pronunciado que el ratón se deslizaba fuera de la bandeja. Dos opciones de alojamiento gourmet habrían sido sustituir la bandeja del teclado o la compra de una estación de trabajo para posición supina.

La acomodación casera que sugirió JAN fue: ¿Qué tal si se crea una casa para el ratón? La acomodación se resolvió con unos trozos de madera. El empalme con velcro de un borde de madera a la bandeja del ratón evitó que éste se deslizara fuera de su casa.

Ejemplo: Una empleada que trabajaba como cajera tenía dificultades para saber cuándo se la necesitaba en la estación de trabajo central debido a su pérdida de audición, le resultaba imposible escuchar voces en un entorno transitado y ruidoso. Dos opciones de acomodaciones gourmet habrían sido la instalación de un nuevo sistema telefónico o la compra de un pager buscador de personal con vibrador.

La acomodación casera que sugirió JAN fue: ¿Qué tal si se instala un interruptor de luz y un tomacorriente? La empleada era notificada a través de una lámpara conectada a un tomacorriente que se activaba mediante un interruptor de luz en la estación de trabajo central.

Contacte a JAN para obtener asistencia técnica acerca de todo tipo de acomodaciones -incluidas las soluciones de bajo costo. Estilo casero o gourmet…

Trending Topics – Nursing Mothers and the ADA

Posted by Kim Cordingly on June 4, 2013 under Accommodations, ADAAA, Employers, Trending Topics | Comments are off for this article

By: Tracie Saab, Lead Consultant

JAN Consultants handle a wide-range of employment inquiries from people all over the country.  Every week there are issues that trend for one reason or another. For example, this week we fielded several inquiries from employers about accommodating nursing mothers. Employers asked what obligation they have to provide accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for mothers who either need breaks or a private space to express milk or nurse. What requirement is there under the ADA to provide accommodations for nursing mothers?

Under the ADA, a qualified person with a disability is someone who has an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces the ADA, lactation is a pregnancy-related condition but uncomplicated pregnancy and lactation are not disabilities covered by the ADA. Thus, an employer would not be required to provide accommodations for mothers who are nursing as a requirement under that statute.

However, in March of 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148, “Affordable Care Act”) amended section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to require covered employers to provide accommodations to nursing mothers under that law. The amendment requires employers to provide such accommodations as breaks and a private place, not a restroom, to express milk during the workday. In addition to this federal mandate, there are many state laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace. Federal requirements do not preempt a state law that provides greater protections to employees and so employers should become familiar with any state requirements.

The National Council of State Legislatures offers information regarding state breastfeeding laws. Also, the U.S. Department of Labor offers information about the accommodation requirements imposed on employers by section 7 of the FLSA. The following resources are available:

JAN’s quarterly ENews offers information about accommodation ideas for nursing mothers.

Contact the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage & Hour Division, for FLSA technical assistance at 866-487-9243 or 877-889-5627 (TTY).

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.

JAN in the News – Private Sector Report from Our Neighbors to the North

Posted by Kim Cordingly on April 2, 2013 under Accommodations, JAN News | Comments are off for this article

Many of us are aware of the influence of JAN’s services in the United States, but our impact is at times international in scope. A recent Canadian Report from the Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities entitled Rethinking Disability in the Private Sector: We All Have Abilities. Some Are More Apparent Than Others (2013) highlights data from JAN’s publication Low Cost, High Impact (2012). The panel, commissioned by the Government of Canada, shares evidence gathered from both private sector companies as well as current research. The panel writes:

By connecting directly with employers, our panel set out to discover what can be done about the unemployment and under-employment of qualified people with disabilities in Canada. We explored the barriers – some physical and many attitudinal – but chose to focus on the positive. Our goal is to shine the light on best practices and successes among Canadian employers who have welcomed people with disabilities into their ranks. These examples can help us learn and do better.

In the section of the report seeking to dispel myths, JAN’s cost data on accommodating a person with a disability is highlighted. The myth cited is that the cost of accommodation for employers is prohibitive. The panel writes, “In a widely accepted study conducted by the U.S. Job Accommodation Network (JAN), workplace accommodations are shown to be low cost, with 57 percent of participants spending nothing at all. Of those accommodations that did have a cost, the typical one-time expenditure by employers was $500.” They also discuss additional data from the JAN study on the direct and indirect benefits to employers of making an accommodation.

You can view the entire report here:

Rethinking Disability in the Private Sector: We All Have Abilities. Some Are More Apparent Than Others
Report from the Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (2013)

JAN Blog: What Works for Me?

Posted by Kim Cordingly on under Accommodations, Blogging with JAN, What Works for Me | Comments are off for this article

What Works for Me?

The JAN Blog is an opportunity for you to share with others your workplace accommodation solutions. JAN receives over 45,000 contacts per year – conversations with all of you that help us better understand what’s working effectively in your workplaces. We have a great deal to learn from one another. We encourage you to share your experiences. Your accommodation success stories can benefit many others around the nation.

JAN Situations and Solutions

Last month, Melanie Whetzel, JAN’s senior consultant on the cognitive/neurological team, traveled to Little Rock, Arkansas, to present at the state APSE conference. Her presentation to nearly 125 participants focused on using JAN’s services and the accommodation process. According to Melanie, one of the best parts of traveling for JAN is meeting new people in locations throughout the United States. She commented, “These are people who are on the front lines of the employment scene — helping to prepare individuals with disabilities for employment, working with employers in the hiring process, and determining accommodations that will assist the employees in effectively doing their jobs.”

Many of the conference participants were interested in real accommodation situations fielded by JAN consultants. Here’s a JAN situation and solution discussed by Melanie at the APSE conference:

Situation: A retail employee with an intellectual disability had difficulty remembering when to take his breaks and lunch, and when to return to the sales floor.

Solution: Using a programmable watch, his job coach helped him set the times for his lunch and breaks, and when it was time to return to work. The watch was set to vibrate so the employee knew exactly when it was time to leave for breaks and lunch and when to return to the sales floor.

Man pointing at watch

For information on APSE — Association of People Supporting EmploymentFirst — see APSE’s Website