2000 Conference Proceedings

Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2000 Table of Contents


THE IMPROBABLE PROBABILITY: ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY AND THE ADA IN THE WORKPLACE; IMPACT, CONSIDERATION, PROJECTION

R. P. Martindale Essington and Richard Devylder

(This work is strictly the property of the authors. No part may be reproduced in any form without prior written permission from the authors. Such permission has been granted to the Center On Disabilities located at California State University, Northridge. Copyright 1999, 2000. All rights reserved.)

Nearly a decade has passed since the signing of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the jury is still deliberating the Act's fate concerning several of the promises and protections specified in it. Where much discussion and participation has been engaged in by various groups in the area of civil rights, barrier removal and transportation; and EVEN more controversial activity in the area of employment discrimination, other ADA components, like telecommunications, have not merited much attention or close scrutiny. Yet, despite what some may think about the achievements or failures involving the ADA, one of its most striking but unsung accomplishments is the role of assistive technology (AT) and how AT makes it feasible for many persons having disabilities to work effectively within the economy. Little is ever mentioned, except in passing praise, on how AT makes work feasible for persons with disabilities. But is anyone asking and answering the important questions that such disabled persons seeking employment and AT need to know? What do employers want today in our economy? What types of AT will meet this need in the foreseeable future? Are any models in place by which persons who are disabled can purchase AT? Does the ADA have anything to do with employment and AT, If so, what and how can this be used to find and hold jobs for persons with disabilities? Is the Information Revolution and thus the Internet working for people having disabilities?

Statistics currently indicate that nearly 70 percent of capable persons with disabilities wanting to work are unemployed. Today, more than in the past, Assistive Technology clearly has proven to be the greatest equalizer concerning certain barriers to meaningful and long lasting employment. how is it then that this figure remains just about what it was ten years ago? It is not the fault of AT. It is also not the fault of the thousands who have mastered the use of this technology and who are competent to work. And in an information-based economy that is increasing, employers would not seem to be at fault either. Hence, what is it that we are doing wrong and what do we need to do in order to diminish the high rate of unemployment among persons with disabilities? In what will be an interesting, if not lively presentation, R. P. Martindale-Essington, Richard Devylder, and the audience, will address these topics. Through presentation, debate, question and answer, the presenters hope to establish a model and/or framework by which employers, persons with disabilities, employment service professionals, and others, can use to remedy what is one of the most pressing problems affecting those having disabilities-- gainful employment and identifying the role that Assistive Technology can play in a solution.

Both presenters are uniquely qualified to lead this type of discussion. Rycharde Martindale-Essington is currently a Consumer Advocate for the Services Center for Independent Living based in Claremont California. Richard Devylder is currently the Coordinator for Workability IV, based at California State University, Long Beach. Both presenters share expertise in the areas of Assistive Technology application, employment placement and retention, and the ADA where it pertains to reasonable accommodation and employer/employee relations. Both Martindale-Essington and Devylder possess strong systems advocacy backgrounds having worked within the southern California Independent Living Movement throughout the last decade. Each has served on national and regional boards and committees emphasizing the integration of the disabled into everyday society.


Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2000 Table of Contents 
Return to Table of Proceedings


Reprinted with author(s) permission. Author(s) retain copyright.