9-5 Workplace Accommodations

Welcome back to our
final segment today on disability and employment. And this segment while
we just finished talking about strategies,
solutions and so forth, I want to spend time right now
talking about accommodations. Because that is the one
area that I think creates the most confusion for
people and is one of the most important things
for us to think about. Because the individual who
has the skills for the job, who has disclosed, who needs something to be
able to do their job well, it’s an obligation to be
able to provide that. And there are a variety
of different ways. It can be from — some
examples might be written instructions versus
oral instructions. It might be flexible —
more flexible work hours. It could be something like job
sharing so that where this — you know, the job that the
person was hired for, they can do everything but
say one or two things, but yet they have other
skills that perhaps somebody over here
could take and share with. So creating that opportunity. From an employer’s
standpoint, again, one of the things we worry
about a lot is cost. People worry about the
cost of accommodations being very expensive, and
yet many accommodations are free or certainly
less than $100. And, in fact, again, it’s from
2005, so it’s a little dated in terms of time, but there
was a national survey done, and the average cost for accommodations was
only around $600. And that spans the entire
range of people with a whole variety
of disabilities. One thing that I would ask
you to do as an activity for this week is that
there’s a website, it’s called the Job
Accommodation Network. You all have the
link to that. And people just shorten
that to JAN, and this website, you know, the JAN
website you can go to it and say, okay, I’ve got
this disability and here is the job, what are
potential accommodations. And so as one of your
learning activities this week, that’s exactly what
I would like to you do. I would like you to – I would
like you to go to this website, identify a disability, and then look at
what are the various accommodations that people have already come up with. Because there is no reason
to reinvent the wheel. And this is a tremendous
resource for anyone who is listening to this, as
well as anyone in the world to look at and say, oh, okay, this is how we might
deal with this. Then the last thing I
would like to say on this is just the idea of from
an employment standpoint, how might you develop
a disability-friendly workplace? I’ve already argued that
there’s value to it, there’s good source, good
pool of employees, good from a diversity
standpoint, it’s good from a PR standpoint
if nothing else. Right? But how might you make
that work site more welcoming? And certainly ideas include
make a corporate commitment. That this is something
that we want to do. This is something we value. This is something
that’s important to us. And if so, then we need to
educate our staff about disabilities. So even using something
like this MOOC to — whether it’s this lesson
or the entire ten lessons that we have here, educate. De-mystify disability
for people. Provide continuing
information. Certainly even potentially
support groups, you know, within the company,
depending on the size of it. And provide accessibility
facilities. You know, as you do remodeling, think about how
we might remodel. How you might construct
something that follows principles of universal design,
which we’ve talked about before and we’ll talk about later. But making things that are
accessible for people. And then when accommodations
do come up, fulfill them. You have a responsibility as well as kind of a moral imperative to do that. Because by hiring people
with disabilities, you do show that commitment. You do show that
commitment to diversity. So in summary, you know,
within this segment we’ve talked about
accommodations. We’ve talked about creating an inclusive
workplace environment. And as the overall lesson,
we really want to emphasize that idea that
employment is huge. It’s huge for all of us,
whether you do or do not have a disability. If you do have a
disability, though, you’re likely to face a number
of additional barriers to employment as evidenced by the number of people
with disabilities who are employed
versus those without. The barriers that exist
are both at the individual level from a financial standpoint, a role model standpoint,
an experience standpoint. You’ve got barriers
at the employer level. There are a number of
barriers that exist out there. So with that, I will
end today’s lesson. And looking forward
to next week, our next lesson will
be a summary of all that we’ve covered
up to this point. And we’ll have a very
heavy emphasis on hearing from our guest speakers
as they talk about from their perspectives a number
of solutions and strategies that if put in place would make for a much more
inclusive society and a much more
positive experience. Thank you.

Paul Whisler

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