2006 Conference General Sessions

WORKPLACE ACCOMMODATIONS: A REMOTE POSSIBILITY?

Presenter #1
Carrie Bruce
490 10th St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30332

Day Phone: 404-385-1718
Email: carrie. bruce@coa.gatech.edu

Presenter #2
Jon Sanford
490 10th St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30332

Day Phone: 404-894-1413
Email: Jon. sanford@coa.
Gatech.edu


The purpose of this ongoing project is to develop a comprehensive protocol for conducting remote workplace assessments using teleconferencing technology. An extensive analysis of existing assessment instruments has resulted in the development of a model that represents the assessment process and a conceptual framework that demonstrates the relationship between the key assessment activities and the key factors to be assessed. The model and framework have served as the basis for developing the remote protocol. The expectation is that remote assessments using this teleconferencing technology will be as, if not more effective than traditional onsite assessments.

Addressing needs of workers with disabilities across the lifespan is an integral component of rehabilitation service delivery. Rehabilitation professionals provide guidance to human resource personnel on hirin9 individuals by matchin9 a personís skills to essential functions of a job; training individuals to maximize performance
ē and safety; and making recommendation for and providing workplace accommodations, including assistive technologies, adaptive strategies, and accessible and universally designed products. All of these roles are dependent on the ability of the practitioner to assess workplace performance, determine an individualís skills, identify environmental barriers and facilitators, predict needs, and recommend/implement appropriate interventions.

While the need to identify the most appropriate accommodations to enhance workplace performance is clear, service providers often lack evidence-based tools with which to provide such services. A recent study on AT service programs that perform workplace accommodations revealed that little or no standardization exists among assessments, leading to a failure of collecting consistent or sufficient data [1]. Although a large number of tools are available to perform assessments, not all assessment tools are equivalent. They are a diverse collection of instruments that range from self-report checklists, to flowcharts, to customized forms, to software programs that generate performance profiles. The tools also represent different activities within the assessment process with many outlining problem identification, several addressing problem solving or prediction of interventions, and a few providing guidance on recommendations. Moreover, many are focused on one dimension of person-environment-occupation fit such as safety, comfort or function, rather than a comprehensive approach to understanding the dynamic relationship among the three.

Technology for performing rehabilitation services remotely has added another dimension to the problem. There are documented studies demonstrating the effectiveness of a variety of telecommunications technologies for evaluating physical condition, monitoring physiological status, and performing diagnostics. However, there are no studies to date that have investigated the use of teleconferencing technology for workplace assessments. This technology has great potential for providing interactive, cost-effective assessment of people with disabilities in their place of work. While this technology has possibilities for performing workplace accommodations assessment, the lack of standardized and comprehensive instruments makes the use of such technology difficult.

Based on an analysis of over 60 assessment tools, a conceptual framework was developed that demonstrates the relationship between the key assessment activities (i.e., investigation, interpretation and intervention) and the key factors to be assessed (i.e., person, place and performance). The framework provides a mechanism for understanding the goals, strengths and weaknesses of the wide array of assessment tools that are commonly used. As a result, the framework serves as a diagnostic tool that will enable practitioners to identify and select an assessment instrument that best meets the needs of each client and each situation.

The model and framework have been critical in the development of a standardized and comprehensive instrument necessary for performing remote assessments and making recommendations for accommodations. The reliability and validity of the new instrument is currently being evaluated.
1. Schwanke, T. and
R. Smith, Assistive technology outcomes in work settings. work, 2005. 24: p. 195-204.
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