2001 Conference Proceedings

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Successful Worksite Accommodation: Case Studies & Strategies for Making a Job Accessible

Laurie Merryman, Assistive Technology Instructor
E-mail: Merryman.Laurie@blind.state.ia.us 

Mike Barber, Assistive Technology Analyst
E-mail: Barber.Michael@blind.state.ia.us 

Iowa Department for the Blind
524 Fourth Street, Des Moines, IA 50309


Proprietary software, software incompatibilities, and time-constraints - these are just a few of the challenges a technology specialist encounters in worksite accommodation for blind or visually impaired employees. Further, each worksite presents unique accommodation requirements. Collectively, these issues can pose impediments to employment. Experience is the greatest asset a technology specialist can possess. Unfortunately, those experiences are not compiled into a consolidated source where one specialist can learn from another.

The Iowa Department for the Blind has developed and implemented a number of strategies to confront worksite accommodation challenges. These strategies have proven successful in allowing individuals to acquire, retain, and advance in jobs. Sharing this information provides an opportunity to disseminate knowledge and acquire new insights.

Presentation Overview

The presentation will focus on practical strategies a blindness professional can use in each worksite. This information will be useful to blind and visually impaired individuals as well. The presentation will cover the following topics:

  1. Gathering Worksite Information. A worksite assessment form can be a significant time-saving device. The employer or counselor completes the form prior to the technology specialist's first meeting with the employer.  This form gives the technology specialist contact information, software requirements, job requirements, and more. We will provide participants with a form used by the Department.
  2. Researching Accessibility Solutions. A technology specialist must consult a number of sources to find solutions. A checklist of sources will be reviewed.
  3. Implementing Worksite Accommodations. A technology specialist spends a lot of time at a job site learning the software and tasks the blind employee will need to complete. He or she must also test the software with assistive technology and implement scripting if necessary. We will discuss strategies to speed up this process and make it more efficient.
  4. Educating Application Developers. Many proprietary application developers are unaware of accessibility application guidelines. Also, they are unfamiliar with adaptive software. We will discuss methods to educate application developers on accessibility and accommodation.

Examples from successful accommodations will be used in each topic.

We will encourage participants to share their successful worksite accommodation stories and strategies. By sharing our knowledge and experience, we hope to avoid duplication of efforts and improve worksite accommodation efforts.

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