Putting the Pieces Together: Job Accommodations and Employers

Michael Papp

The employment rate for people with severe disabilities is only 26.1%. Job accommodations are used to help people with disabilities find and maintain employment. Assistive technology services play an important roll in the job accommodation process, but there are several other key factors that must come together to ensure a successful employment outcome for people with disabilities.

Traditional rehabilitation staff are not always sensitive to the needs of employers. Employers have unique needs and need rehabilitation professionals who understand the language of human resources and marketing.

A multidisciplinary team within vocational rehabilitation addresses the needs of both the consumer and the employer. Counselors serve the needs of consumers by helping them determine and set up the services they need. Assistive technology specialists work directly with consumers and technology. Employment developers bridge the gap between the rehabilitation world and the employers' world to ensure the job accommodation needs of the consumer are met and the employer's concerns are addressed.

Data collected by Alabama vocational rehabilitation shows that many employers return repeatedly for assistance in hiring new employees with disabilities, and to assist them in accommodating current employees.

By using a multidisciplinary team including expertise in marketing, assistive technology and accommodation services, and rehabilitation counseling, we are able to link people with disabilities and employers together to implement job accommodations to create successful employment outcomes. Research is needed on how to further bring businesses into the rehabilitation process to develop more services that encourage them in repeatedly hiring people with disabilities.

Presentation Slides:
Slides 1-9

Michael Papp, MS Engineering, is a practicing rehabilitation technology specialist with the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services. He received his masterís degree specializing in rehabilitation engineering from Wright State University, Dayton, OH. Mr. Papp specializes in assistive technologies related to job accommodations, including computer hardware and software, rehabilitation ergonomics, and custom modifications and design. He has also developed an internship program to introduce engineering students to rehabilitation engineering, develops assistive technology training programs in Alabama, and publishes the website http://rehabengineer.homestead.com.

Presentation from the 'Workplace Accommodations: State of the Science' conference, September 15-16, 2005, Atlanta, GA