Workplace Accommodations R&D Digest - December 2003

Volume 1, Number 2


This is the second issue of our project e-newsletter - a monthly update from the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Workplace Accommodations with details about our research, project activities, and resources of interest. Each month we will highlight one of our research or development projects or one of our training/dissemination activities.

The Work RERC is a NIDRR-funded Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center that identifies, designs, and develops devices and systems to make people with disabilities more productive in the workplace. A primary focus of the Work RERC is the use of universal design concepts -- the design of products and environments to be usable by all workers, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. More information about the Work RERC can be found at our website, at

Future issues of this newsletter will cover topics such as:


Our e-mail discussion group has a new name:

The Work RERC has an on-line discussion group on workplace accommodations, policy issues regarding employees with disabilities, and accessible design. The discussion group serves as a forum to ask our staff questions about specific issues and share resources. In addition, periodically we will moderate discussions on various topics related to workplace policy or accommodation services.

The discussion is conducted via e-mail. Due to technical issues, the list has been relaunched with a new name, but current members have been moved to the new list. If you haven't joined yet, but would like to, send a blank e-mail to with "subscribe workaccommodations" in the SUBJECT line.


The history of workplace accommodations has been one of practical application, service delivery and individualized, engineered solutions. While there are numerous examples of successful and effective solutions that meet the needs of individual employees, there has been little effort to aggregate these case studies to examine trends, understand what works and for whom, and develop more universally applicable accommodations. The Work RERC intends to address this next step, and help develop a common understanding of workplace accommodations by studying what accommodations have been made, for whom, and how well they work. Three of our research projects address these questions, and each will provide information about current trends surrounding the provision of workplace accommodations for persons with disabilities.

First, we will conduct surveys and focus groups with people with disabilities to collect information about the accommodations that they use and/or need. The survey will collect information on personal experiences to document the types of physical, social, psychological and technical barriers that exist in the workplace and in the rehabilitation system. We are currently recruiting people with disabilities who are willing to take part in these surveys. If you are interested in joining the Consumer Advisory Network (CAN), sign up via our on-line form at

Another RERC research project involves looking for trends in archival case files. We are collecting data from the AT services files of 400 vocational rehabilitation clients. We expect to identify and quantify the most significant barriers faced by these clients as they sought employment. Furthermore, we expect to gain a greater understanding of the reasons behind both successful and unsuccessful employment outcomes, so that procedures for providing workplace accommodations can be modified accordingly. Results will be available in the spring of 2004.

Finally, the Work RERC is looking at the legislative and policy issues associated with making workplace accommodations. Presentations and white papers are being developed to increase the awareness and application of knowledge among policy makers, researchers and other interested groups. More information about these issues can be found in our bimonthly paper, "Workplace Accommodations Policy Highlights" at



This global assistive technology explorer is a resource for assistive technology (AT) products and a link to a wide variety of AT and disability-related information. The searchable database is designed to help you target solutions, determine costs and link to vendors that sell AT products.

Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDEA)
University at Buffalo
The Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access conducts research, education and design projects on universal design and environmental access.

New "Assistive Technology Outcomes and Benefits" Journal
The Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) is sponsoring a new on-line peer-reviewed journal.
Submission deadline is Feb. 28.
For more information:

Assistive Technology Journal
Check out this site, sponsored by the AT Network and California Assistive Technology Systems, for the latest news and resources in assistive technology.


This is a publication of the RERC on Workplace Accommodations, which is supported by Grant H133E020720 of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research of the U.S. Department of Education. The opinions contained in this publication are those of the grantee and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Education.

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