Workplace Personal Assistance Services

Susan Stoddard

Workplace Personal Assistance Services (Workplace PAS) include task-related assistance at work, such as readers, interpreters, help with lifting or reaching, re-assignment of non-essential duties to co-workers, and other help related to performing work tasks and personal care-related assistance such as helping someone with toileting, eating or drinking while at work.

There are several current initiatives which encourage development and expansion of personal assistance services at work, including many programs initiated through Medicaid Infrastructure Grants (MIGs) to states. Current policy efforts may expand the demand for workplace PAS accommodations; if such expansion does occur, employers will need information on the best ways to respond.

Employers vary in terms of knowledge and attitudes about hiring people with disabilities. Current employer and user experience is valuable in identifying what works and what more is needed, and the Center on Personal Assistance Services (PASCenter)has a 5-year research plan to expand information.

This presentation reports results of research conducted by InfoUse in the PASCenter. The goal of this formative study was to learn more about how workplace personal assistance services and assistive technology are arranged for in the workplace, and the issues that arise. We conducted 60 structured phone interviews: with 21 employers familiar with workplace PAS, 19 employment organizations, and 20 workplace PAS users. Interview respondents identified a number of practices that are succeeding, including establishment of policies for arranging for PAS, centralization of accommodation budgets to remove work unit disincentives, and providing a shared personal assistant for interpreting or for task-related and personal care tasks. The presentation will include findings on personal and employer costs, methods of arranging for workplace PAS, criteria for best practices and examples of successful workplace PAS accommodations.

Presentation Slides:
Slides 1-15
Slides 16-31
Slides 32-43

Susan Stoddard, Ph.D. FAICP is a planner and researcher with extensive experience in evaluation of disability and rehabilitation services and employment systems. The founder of InfoUse, Stoddard has developed a series of statistical chartbooks on disability, and has directed many studies for NIDRR and the Rehabilitation Services administration. In the Center for Personal Assistance Services, she is the Principal Investigator in the project on Workplace Personal Assistance Services, a project which includes the Job Accommodation Network (JAN). Recently, she completed the California Independent Living Needs Study conducted for the California State Independent Living Council and the California Department of Rehabilitation, a study that included focus groups, a web survey, key informant interviews and county-level census information on disability in the state.

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