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 www.cap.mil.

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.