Workplace Accommodations R&D Digest - October 2004

Volume 2, Number 3


This e-newsletter from the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Workplace Accommodations is an update on our research, project activities, and resources of interest. The Work RERC is a NIDRR-funded Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center that identifies, develops and promotes new assistive and universally designed technologies that maximize independence and participation of people with disabilities in the workplace. More information about the Work RERC can be found at our website,


October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao has selected "You're Hired! Success Knows No Limitations!" as the official theme for October's National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) at the U.S. Department of Labor specifically addresses policies that impact the employment of people with disabilities. It acts as a catalyst to stimulate new ideas about employment through research and development, policy analysis, grant awards, technical assistance and the promotion of effective business practices. Learn more about National Disability Employment Awareness Month at the ODEP web site

Join Our Survey on Workplace Technology, Products and Services for People with Disabilities

The Work RERC is looking for people with disabilities to participate in our on-line Survey of User Needs. The purpose of this study is to make workplaces more accessible for people with disabilities. If you are a person with a disability who uses or has used assistive technology products or services in the workplace, we would like you to tell us which types of accommodations are used and whether they are successful.

The survey takes about 30 minutes to complete and involves questions about current employment, use of workplace accommodations, how the accommodations were provided, and needs for new products or services. If you are interested in participating, we ask that you first join our Consumer Advisory Network (CAN) and provide us with information about how to contact you in the future. Then, you will be able to access the full survey.

To participate in the survey, go to and follow the link "Participate in a Survey of User Needs" under the "Highlights" section. If you have questions about the survey or your participation, you may reach us by email at or call John Goldthwaite, toll-free at 1-800-726-9119 (voice/TTY).


Accessible CNC Machinery Project

Three Work RERC staff members submitted a position paper for publication in The Assistive Technology Journal:
"A Study of Advanced Manufacturing Technology as a Workplace Accommodation in a Manufacturing Environment"
Authors: Scott Haynes, MBME, Tina Butterfield, OTR, and Jon Sanford, M Arch.
Paper Abstract: In the manufacturing environment, a trend toward automation is occurring, which may increase the employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The automated equipment often reduces the physical and/or sensory requirements for machine operation but increases the cognitive demand. Employers are incorporating strategies aimed at fine- tuning the human-machine interaction, which heightens employers' awareness of employee abilities. Some strategies are also aimed at simplifying production operations. This combination of reduced physical requirements, attention to human needs and abilities, and a desire to simplify production operations produces an environment conducive to employment of people with disabilities. A review of current industry-based literature was conducted to identify the state of automated technology in manufacturing environments as it relates to the impact on functional requirements of the employees. This paper will identify the opportunities for and barriers to using advanced manufacturing technology to facilitate people with disabilities working in the manufacturing environment.

Watch Our Web Site for the October/November Issue Of Workplace Accommodations Policy Highlights

To read about important public policy issues related to employment, disability and workplace accommodations, read our "Workplace Accommodations Policy Highlights" at


Join the Work RERC On-Line Discussion Group at

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. To join the group, send a blank e-mail to with "subscribe workaccommodations" in the SUBJECT line.

Join Our Consumer Or Rehab Professional Advisory Networks!

The RERC is looking for employees with disabilities and rehabilitation practitioners to participate in future surveys and perhaps interview/focus groups on workplace accommodations. Sign up via our on-line forms:


Assistive Technology Database -
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.

Work RERC Resources -
The RERC web site has links to useful resources related to disability and workplace accommodations. Search our database or suggest your own links to add.



International Facility Management Association (IFMA) World Workplace Conference - "Workplace Accessibility: It's More Than Just Getting in the Building"
Presenters: Karen Milchus and Jon Sanford
October 19, 2004
Salt Lake City, UT
Today's workplace includes increasing numbers of people with disabilities and seniors, both of whom may need accommodations made to their workplace in order for them to be productive at work. Examples of accommodations may include a powered door opener, a rearrangement of office furniture, an ergonomic chair, an amplified telephone, or a Braille printer. The Americans with Disabilities Act describes specific design guidelines to make public facilities accessible to people with disabilities. But what should be done when a specific employee needs the workplace to be made more accessible? This session will discuss the legislative considerations when making accommodations, the process for determining what is needed, and resources to help implement these accommodations. The session will use case studies along with the personal experiences of the participants.

26th Annual Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) Research Conference
October 30, 2004
Atlanta, GA
Paul M.A. Baker, Workplace Accommodations RERC and Wireless RERC, and Karen Milchus, Workplace Accommodations RERC, will participate in a panel on "Information, Communication and Technology Policy for People with Disabilities: Designing Approaches to Reduce Access Barriers." Baker will moderate the panel and present a paper, "New Policy Tools: Using Policy Delphi Method to Craft Disability Policy to Increase Access to Wireless/Communication Devices." Karen Milchus will serve as a panelist.

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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