Workplace Accommodations R&D Digest - April 2008

Volume 6, Number 2

GREETINGS FROM THE WORK RERC!

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, http://www.workrerc.org


WORK ACCOMMODATIONS FOR STEM EDUCATORS

When we hear about making science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) classes accessible, we usually think about students with disabilities. But what about teachers with disabilities?

CATEA, with funding from the National Science Foundation, has developed a resource to provide information to educators and administrators about how to provide workplace accommodations to STEM teachers with disabilities. We have included both information about process and possible accommodation solutions, including links to resources that can be tapped for further information, assessment services, or funding.

Much of the information on this site is based on research findings from a study of the work experiences of and workplace accommodations used by K-12 and postsecondary STEM educators. It should be noted that while this site targets STEM educators, a great deal of the information would also be relevant for teachers of other subjects.

Visit: http://www.workrerc.org/stem/modules/index.php


AGING IN THE WORKPLACE: ACCOMMODATIONS FOR OLDER WORKERS (WEBCAST)

May 15, 2008 (12:00pm to 1:30pm EDT)
Presenter: Dory Sabata

Cost: $30; 10% discount available for groups of 10+ registering together (contact trainingcore@coa.gatech.edu for more information). College-issued CEUs (accepted by RESNA and others) are available upon course completion.

Registration for the course is required through Georgia Tech’s Professional Education office: http://www.pe.gatech.edu/conted/servlet/CEHome (search for the course name). If not yet listed, email trainingcore@coa.gatech.edu and we will notify you when registration opens.


"BUILDING COMFORTABLE ENVIRONMENTS FOR ALL" CONFERENCE

May 15-16, 2008
Atlanta, Georgia

CATEA is pleased to join the International Council for Research and Innovation in Building (CIB),the National Research Council, and the Construction Technologies Institution in organizing the Working Commission 084 “Building Comfortable Environments for All” to be held at Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture.

Topic areas are related to Accessibility and Usability of the built environment, including:

The objectives of the CIB WG084/2008 Meeting are to explore and discuss:

The Conference Registration fee will include a continental breakfast, lunch and breaks for the two days. To register and pay by credit card: https://epay.gatech.edu/C20793_ustores/web/store_cat.jsp?STOREID=39&CATID=70

Please contact Trin Intra at CATEA for more information about registration.
Phone: 404-894-0954
Email: trin.intra@coa.gatech.edu


NATIONAL ENGINEERING DESIGN CHALLENGE WINNERS ANNOUNCED

Finalists for the National Engineering Design Challenge, a national contest for high school engineering students, gathered in Washington DC in February. The student teams were challenged to design and build an assistive technology device to help a person with disabilities from their community succeed in his or her workplace.

Gardner Edgerton High School (Gardner, KS) was selected as the winner with their creation of the “Bag Attachment and Replacement Technology (BART)”. This device allows a user to change and tie a trash bag with only one hand. Garfield-Palouse High School (Palouse, WA) shared second place for their agricultural lift used to raise a person from a wheelchair on the ground to the driver's seat of a combine. The other second place winner was Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (Denton, TX), for a table that combines adjustable height and incline to allow a workers in a wheelchairs to manufacture spools easily.

The competition is organized by AbilityOne (formerly known as the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Program) and the Junior Engineering Technical Society (JETS). NISH is one of two national, nonprofit agencies that support the nonprofit agencies participating in the AbilityOne Program. For more information, visit http://www.jets.org/programs/nedc/index.cfm.


SUBJECTS SOUGHT TO TEST WORKSTATION DESIGNS

The Work RERC has two studies coming up which involve evaluating workstation designs for CNC manufacturing and for retail cashiers. Atlanta area individuals are invited to participate in these studies.

CNC Machine Research Study

Study participants who are paraplegic with full hand function are needed to provide input on the design of a CNC (computer numerically controlled) workstation. Participants will test a non-operational model of a CNC machine and also provide input on new design ideas. Visit the Work RERC website for more details - http://www.workrerc.org/Projects/cnc_participants.php

Retail Checkstand Research Study

Study participants, particularly those with grocery cashier experience, are needed to provide input on the design of grocery checkstands. Participants will test a non-operational model of a CNC machine and also provide input on new design ideas. If you would like further details once recruitment begins in late April, email Camillo Vargas at vargascamilo@gatech.edu.


RECENT PRESENTATIONS

Work RERC researchers presented papers and co-sponsored a preconference course on "The 21st Century Community" with the RERC on UD in the Built Environment at the International Conference on Aging, Disability and Independence (ICADI) in February. Highlights from the preconference course will be presented as a workshop at the annual RESNA conference in June 2008, and the materials will be compiled into a book. In addition, "Creating a Consumer Network for Workplace Accommodations," which discussed the Work RERC’s participatory action research, was presented at the Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference in March in Los Angeles, CA. Paper presentations are posted on our website: http://www.workrerc.org/News/presentations.php


DISABILITY AND EMPLOYMENT POLICY UPDATES

The Community Choice Act of 2007 (S. 799, H.R. 1621)

Introduced to Congress in March 2007, the Community Choice Act seeks to amend Title XIX of the Social Security Act and promote access to community-based institutions for disabled and aging populations. In addition to setting program standards for community choice options, this proposed bill would increase federal financial contributions to cover the shortfall of states’ related participation costs. Funds would also be allocated by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services in support of grants for eligible states engaged in ‘real choice systems change’ initiatives as well as for a collaborative, cost-sharing demonstration project for community-based facilities. It is still undergoing review in Congress.
For more information: http://www.washingtonwatch.com/bills/show/110_SN_799.html

Debate Continues in the UPS Deaf Drivers Case, Rulings

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that the San Francisco-based judge who presided over the class action Bates v. UPS case must reconsider his October 2004 ruling. The UPS-initiated appellate ruling contests the basis of U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson’s decision, who found that the Atlanta-based carrier must allow deaf drivers to apply for promotions to operate small delivery trucks. The 13-2 vote decided that the wrong basis was used in that ruling, and stated instead that Henderson should have required deaf employees to demonstrate their driving capability before requiring UPS to revise its policy. A linkage between deaf drivers and safety exists has been a main point of debate throughout this case. Both UPS and the plaintiffs – represented by the Disability Rights Advocates organization – assert their ability to comply with the new ruling and continue advocating their positions.
For more information: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/12/29/BAF8U65UR.DTL

Class Action Suit brought by Disabled Veterans against Dept. of Veteran Affairs

Two groups representing the interests of 12,000 disabled veterans – Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth - have filed a class action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) in a federal court in San Francisco. The plaintiffs allege misappropriation of veteran mental health funding, staff shortages and substandard veteran care for those returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. Department of Justice refutes these claims, cites impracticality in the veterans’ demands, and asserts the progress made by the VA in recent years. The suit primarily focuses on mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) and rising suicide rates posing risk for the approximate 56,000 returning soldiers. The next hearing, which will include testimony from mental health experts, will determine if the VA is ordered to spend $60 million immediately for pending claims.
For more information: http://www.dralegal.org/news/
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hT16PBQvq8eBb8tuA-4dl1oJpZtwD8V6CO6O0

Wireless RERC focuses on Wireless Devices and People with Disabilities

A February 29th article in The Washington Post detailed the results of a nationwide survey conducted by the Wireless Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (Wireless RERC), a research collaboration that includes Georgia Tech and The Shepherd Center. The Atlanta-based groups sought to assess the level of functionality of wireless devices for people with disabilities. The survey found that ownership of wireless devices by the target population increased 13 percent from 2006 to 2007. Additionally, over 75 percent of the respondents (N=1,208) – about a quarter more than in the previous survey year – find that the devices are easy to use.
For more information: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2008/02/29/AR2008022903151_pf.html

Lt. Gov. Paterson’s New Role as NY Governor makes history

Amid Eliot Spitzer’s recent scandal-laden resignation, Lt. Gov. David Paterson assumed the role of Governor of New York on March 17. The Columbia University and Hofstra Law School graduate served New York as a state Senator since 1985 and as Lieutenant Governor since 2006. Paterson, who is completely blind in his left eye and legally blind is his right due to optic atrophy during infancy, is also an avid disability rights supporter. In addition to being the first blind governor in the history of the U.S., he is also the first African-American governor of New York. He is also a professor at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs.
For more information: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080311/pl_afp/uspoliticsnewyorkgovernorprostitutionpaterson
http://news.yahoo.com/s/bloomberg/20080313/pl_bloomberg/azy02ll1keua

New Georgia GCDD Report Released

In January 2008, Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) released a report entitled "Issues Related to the Implementation of Medicaid and PeachCare Care Management in Georgia". The 24-page report details the stability of health care access for program participants.
For more information: http://gcdd.org/publicpolicy/position/Microsoft%20Word%20-%202008%20Results_of_Survey_on_Issues_Related_to_2_-29th-Rev%2002-09-081_MR_.pdf

Election 2008 & Disability Policy

Election 2008 is abloom with frenzied campaign trails, impassioned debates amongst contenders (primarily partisan to date), and avid primary watching. All three candidates have made some mention of disability policy, although some have more actively incorporated it as an integral platform component.

Hillary Clinton has issued a platform statement focusing on disability employment, ADA concerns, and a plan addressing autism among American youth and support for their families.

John McCain briefly alluded to the importance addressing disability issues that have surfaced among U.S. veterans and their health care needs.

Barack Obama has issued a disability comprehensive plan which focuses on: employment and education, autism rates, ending disability discrimination, and promoting independent living and community choice initiatives.


 

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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