Workplace Accommodations R&D Digest - December 2006

Volume 4, Number 4


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,


There has been a trend in manufacturing over the past few decades towards an increased use of new equipment and strategies referred to in industry as advanced manufacturing technology (AMT). Because of these trends, people employed in the manufacturing field are now required to have a different set of skills than they once were; technical and computer skills are becoming more important, while there is a general reduction in the need for manual dexterity skills. The existence of computer-controlled equipment is an essential aspect of AMT. These changes provide unique opportunities for people with disabilities to work with advanced manufacturing technologies.

Recently, Work RERC staff visited two manufacturing facilities in Seattle, Washington that employ a significant number of people with disabilities in their production operations. One facility, affiliated with the National Industries for the Blind, focuses on providing employment for people who are blind. The other facility is affiliated with NISH ( and serves local vocational rehabilitation agencies by providing work experience for people with all types of disabilities. These manufacturing plants use simple and advanced technologies and machinery to make airplane parts and household and office products. The purpose of the trip was to observe accommodations to equipment and processes that allowed people with disabilities to work in AMT manufacturing environments.

Several different workplace accommodations were observed during the site visits, including:

Efforts are currently underway to set up site visits to other manufacturing facilities that use AMT and that employ a significant number of people with disabilities. This may help employers make their machines and facilities more universally accessible or adaptable for employees with disabilities.

For more information, contact Scott Haynes or Sarah Endicott


The RERC on Workplace Accommodations and the Southeast Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center (Southeast DBTAC) are repeating their two-part web course on Telework and Effective Accommodations. This web course was originally offered in October 2006.

Session 1 – Teleworking as a Reasonable Accommodation for Employees with Significant Disabilities
February 1, 2007; Noon – 1:15 EST
This first session looks at the policy aspects of telework, including when teleworking itself might be effective as an accommodation. The session will feature case studies of successful and unsuccessful teleworkers.

Session 2 – Workplace Accommodations for Teleworkers with Disabilities
February 8, 2007; Noon – 1:15 EST
This second session looks at the types of jobs and job tasks involved with telework, and additional accommodations used by teleworkers. The session will feature case studies and results from employee interviews.

Register at (search on keyword “telework”)
Course Numbers ARCH-1002P & ARCH-1003P
Cost: $30 each or $50 for both courses
CEUs (accepted by RESNA) and CRC (2.5 hours for both sessions) are available upon course completion.

For questions regarding registration, contact Georgia Tech Professional Education at 404-385-3500.


The CCN is a network of elders and people with disabilities, their families, friends and caregivers. Members of CCN test new prototypes, products and services in order to improve them through focus groups, field-testing and surveys. By signing up and becoming a member of CCN, you will be among the first to preview new developments in these areas and provide input to make them more usable and accessible. As a member you will receive a periodic newsletter to keep you up to date. Membership is free and some CCN studies may provide payments for participation. The CCN is an initiative of Georgia Tech's Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA).

Participation in the CCN is free and easy! People with disabilities, seniors with disabilities, family members, friends and caregivers of people with disabilities should follow the link and signup today The CCN Signup Form only takes about 5 to 10 minutes to complete. The Signup Form can also be completed by phone by contacting a CATEA research representative at 1-800-726-9119 (voice or TTY) or 404-894-4960. CCN members will receive periodic notices about paid and unpaid opportunities for involvement in surveys, focus groups and research studies.


This newsletter reports on policy, regulatory framework and market factors that can be useful in reducing barriers to integrating people with disabilities into the national workforce.

Issue Summary: The legislative arena recently focused on recognition of people with disabilities. The president declared White Cane Safety Day as well as National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Federal regulatory agencies directed their efforts at the employment of people with disabilities; the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy provided a number of grants for research on self-employment among people with disabilities. The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) launched a website on its new Leadership for the Employment of Americans with Disabilities (LEAD) initiative. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) also launched a number of judicial efforts by filing lawsuits for disability discrimination complaints.

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For more information on Work RERC staff presentations, go to the Events page on our web site:


The December edition of the journal “Work” (vol. 27(4)) is a special issue on research on “Evidence-Based Practice in Workplace Accommodations.” It features study results that were presented at the Work RERC’s State of the Science Conference last year. Twelve articles represent four types of studies: descriptive and outcomes studies of accommodations, evidence-based methods for practice, employer and service provider information needs, and telework as an accommodation. For more information, visit the IOS Press website:


The Work RERC has an on-line, e-mail discussion group on workplace accommodations, policy issues regarding employees with disabilities, and accessible design, called 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. To join the group, send a blank e-mail to with "subscribe workaccommodations" in the SUBJECT line.


If you have questions about AT or other issues related to job accommodations, please contact the Work RERC staff at 1-800-726-9119 (voice/TTY) or by e-mail at

If you would like to subscribe to this listserv, or if you prefer to leave the distribution list, you may do so by following the directions at the bottom of this e-mail or by contacting the project at or toll free at 1-800-726-9119 (voice/TTY).

This list is a product of the Work RERC, which is supported by NIDRR. The opinions contained in this list are those of the grantee and do not necessarily reflect those of NIDRR or the U.S. Department of Education.

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