2006 Conference General Sessions

CONSUMER PERSPECTIVES ON WORKPLACE ACCOMMODATIONS: FINDINGS FROM FOCUS GROUP

 

 

Presenter(s)
Dory Sabata
WorkRERC, Center for AT & Environmental Access, Georgia Tech.
490 10th St.
Atlanta GA 30318

Day Phone: 4048940953
Email: dory.sabata@coa.gatech.edu

 

Presenter #2
Michael Williams

WorkRERC, Center for AT & Environmental Access, Georgia Tech.

2714 Laurel Ridge Drive

Atlanta GA 30033

Day Phone: 404-414-1507

FaxL 404-728-4837

Email: mike2488@yahoo.com

 

Persons aged 1864 often consider the ability to work a major part of community participation. However, a significantly large number of people with disabilities who are able to live in the community cannot successfully seek and maintain employment, in part due a lack of a supportive work environment. According to the U.S. Census Bureau (1997), approximately 9.7 million working-age adults with a disability were unemployed. Of those who were able to work, 7.2 million reported that they were limited in the kinds of jobs they had or amount of work they could do: As many as 11.3 million people had health conditions that impeded their ability o obtain or retain employment (Loprest & Maag, 2001). Since the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, unemployment rates for persons with disabilities have continued to rise (Trupin et al., 1997). Workplaces and technology have not necessarily included universal design approaches to better meet the needs of all potential users.

The workplace has the potential to be accessible to people with disabilities and to support their participation in gainful employment. By understanding the needs of persons with disabilities and the types of workplace accommodations that are most useful, workplace environments can he designed to better accommodate persons with disabilities and provide opportunities for participation in the workplace. Researchers at the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Workplace Accommodations (WorkRERC) at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Center for Accessible Technology and Environmental Access are working to identify and develop workplace accommodations that can benefit all potential users.

This presentation will include the results from focus groups conducted with members of a
Consumer Advisory Network in the Atlanta area about their experiences with workplace accommodations. The focus groups will build on a previous national survey conducted by the WorkRERC regarding the functional limitation of persons with disabilities and their use of workplace accommodations. Participants in the initial survey were invited to join a Consumer Advisory Network (CAN) used to inform other research and development projects. A convenience sample of members from the CAN will be gathered together for focus groups to discuss more specific barriers to workplace accommodations, as well as, strategies and technologies that are beneficial to obtaining and maintaining employment. Focus groups will include persons with a variety of disabilities. One focus group will target persons with mobility impairments; another will target persons with visual impairment. This consumer input will be used to inform decisions about future development of universally designed technologies and to explore pilot projects at the WorkRERC in the area of workplace accommodations.

Acknowledgement: The WorkRERC is supported by grant #H133E020720 from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), U.S. Department of Education.
Loprest, P., & Nlaag, S. (2001). Barriers and supports for work among adults with disabilities: Results from of the National Health Interview Survey--Disability Supplement. The Urban Institute: Washington DC.

Trupin, L., et al., (1997). Trends in Labor Force Participation Among Working-Age Persons,
1983-1994. U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability arid Rehabilitation Research: Washington, DC.

U.S. Census Bureau (1997). The Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). U.S. Census Bureau: Washington, DC.


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