Workplace Accommodations R&D Digest - April/June 2006

Volume 4, Number 2


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,


A Work RERC pilot study tested the data collection tools and methods for measuring the relationships between accessibility of secondary office spaces, social interaction, job performance and job satisfaction. The study compared the responses of employees both with and without disabilities. Data was collected through structured interviews. A spatial analysis of an office building was conducted to map out the connectivity and centrality of secondary office spaces for employees with and without disabilities. Results of the study revealed a positive correlation between job satisfaction and job performance of all employees with social interaction (r= .602, p=.002 with job performance; r=.604, p=.002 with job satisfaction) and social inclusion (r=.630, p=.001 with job performance; r=.615, p=.001 with job satisfaction). The results also indicated that most of the social interaction (46%) took place in the hallways (23%) and at colleagues' desks (23%). Employees with disabilities did not have access to all of the hallways and all of the desks of their colleagues. In addition, they had lower social interaction (p=.004) and lower job satisfaction (p=.001) compared to the employees without disabilities. Even though the results need to be verified with a larger sample size, initial findings support validity of the tools as well as the hypothesis of the study: Providing accessibility only to work units and main areas may not be sufficient for social inclusion and job satisfaction of employees with disabilities. For further information on this study, contact Jon Sanford at or Mine Hasas at, or call 1-800-726-9119 (voice/TTY). A recent presentation of this research at the EDRA 37 Conference, "Accessibility of Support Spaces in Office Buildings," can also be reviewed at


A retrospective analysis of 266 persons who received vocational rehabilitation services with a workplace assessment revealed information about the number and types of recommended workplace accommodations for people with various functional limitations. Special tools/ furnishings and computer systems/components were the most frequently reported types of recommendations. About 1/2 to 2/3 of people who reported a particular functional limitation were recommended special tools/furnishing for their work. These included items such as hand tools, power tools, signage, seating, and custom workstations. Computer systems/components were also recommended to about 2/3 to 3/4 of people with various functional limitations. Computer systems and components included computer hardware, alternative interfaces and special software. Approximately 40% of people with communication and/or hearing limitations were recommended communication devices. Changes to the work facility entrance were recommended to ĵ of person with mobility limitations. About 1/5 to 1/3 of persons with functional limitations were recommended strategies such as flexible work schedules, job restructuring, interpreters and personal assistance services.

These findings suggest that most job accommodation recommendations are for the individual work space and for completing specific job tasks. Clearly some accommodation may be recommended more often for those with a particular functional limitation such as facility access for those with mobility difficulties. However, the data also indicate that accommodations for communication, whether thorough an augmentative device or with a computer, appears to be important regardless of functional limitations.

For more information on this project, contact Sarah Endicott at or Dory Sabata at


April 2006 Issue

This spring, the Emergency Preparedness and Response for Individuals with Disabilities Act [H.R. 4704] was introduced, regarding federal emergency preparedness and its effect on people with disabilities in many situations, including the workplace. The College Access and Opportunity Act of 2005 [H.R.609], was also introduced, and addresses the eligibility of college students with intellectual disabilities for work study jobs.

June 2006 Issue

During the past two months, the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has been busy promoting and developing new research initiatives regarding the employment of individuals with disabilities. ODEP has new grant opportunities with the aim of developing methodologies and models to increase the level of employment for people with disabilities.

In other news, the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) held a public meeting with the Interagency Committee on Disability Research (ICDR) to gather public comments on the federal disability research agenda. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) hosted a roundtable discussion on emergency preparedness in the workplace for people with disabilities. The Department of State also held a public meeting for the Advisory Committee on Persons with Disabilities.

To read more about these and other important issues related to employment, disability and workplace accommodations, use one of the links below:

April Issue

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June Issue

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Share Your Workplace Accommodation Experiences as a Rehabilitation Professional

We will be surveying rehabilitation professionals about the types of workplace accommodations they recommend and have helped their clients to acquire. If you would be interested in participating in a future survey, please join our Professional Advisory Network by going to the following link:

Share Your Consumer Perspective on Workplace Accommodations for Persons with Communication Difficulties

Are you currently employed? Do you have a functional limitation that affects your ability to communicate in the workplace? We will conduct focus groups in the Fall of 2006 to better understand the types of accommodations currently used and needed by persons with communication difficulties in the workplace. If you are interested in participating, please contact Glenn Moscoco at for further information.

The Work RERC is developing a Business Advisory Network. Employers and business professionals who directly hire workers with disabilities and are involved with providing workplace accommodations are encouraged to join this network.

Your participation will provide a business perspective on workplace products and services, future needs and evaluations of new designs and technologies to make workplaces more accessible to people with disabilities. To join the advisory network or learn more about it, please e-mail Dory Sabata at or call her at 1-800-726-9119 (voice/TTY).

We invite you to complete our survey on Business Perspectives of Workplace Accommodations at These results will be used to understand and develop strategies and technologies to maximize workplace accessibility for all workers including people with disabilities and aging workers. The anonymous survey will take 30-40 minutes to complete.


Please visit the Workplace RERC booth at RESNA in Atlanta, GA from June 22-26, 2006!

Try our supine workstation and meet our staff, who will be making the following presentations:


"Americans with Disabilities: Ready for the Global Workforce" is 2006 National Disability Employment Awareness Month Theme

Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announced that "Americans with Disabilities: Ready for the Global Workforce" will be the official theme for National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which is celebrated nationwide. The private sector; federal, state and local governments; and advocacy organizations can use the theme to plan events and programs that showcase the abilities and skills of employees and job candidates who have disabilities.

The 2006 National Disability Employment Awareness Month poster is hot off the press. This yearıs poster features a young man with a developmental disability utilizing office technology, and bears the theme, "Americans with Disabilities: Ready for the Global Workforce." The U.S. Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) web site has a link to a downloadable version of the poster. To obtain printed copies, contact Carol Dunlap at National Disability Employment Awareness Month is observed in October.



Join Our On-Line Discussion Group on Workplace Accommodations 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.

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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