From the desk of Beth Loy, Ph.D., Principal Consultant
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) and Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) are two programs steeped in history – each having removed barriers for hundreds of thousands of individuals with disabilities over the past 25 years.
JAN is a free service, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Policy, that provides technical assistance on job accommodations. JAN’s services are available to not only private and federal employers seeking accommodation information, but also educational professionals, individuals with disabilities, and anyone else interested in workplace accommodations. Each contact to JAN remains confidential.
For over three decades JAN’s service has been a vital resource for hiring and retaining people with disabilities. In a typical day, JAN will field over 100 questions from managers and employees, some of which are from federal agencies. Wanita, a supervisor with a large federal agency, recently contacted JAN to get ideas on job accommodations for a systems operator with depression. She was transferred to a mental health accommodation specialist to whom she explained that because of a recent change in medication, the employee was having a difficult time concentrating, especially during meetings.
JAN discussed several possible solutions to improve the employee’s productivity:
- Flexible scheduling so the employee could work when fewer employees were in the work environment;
- Moving the employee to a quieter area away from the kitchen, bathroom, stairwell, elevator, copier, and coffee pot;
- Providing white noise such as a fan and air purifier;
- Allowing flexible breaks to walk around; and
- Purchasing an electronic cueing/memory aid to help retain information from meetings.
JAN provided a list of cueing/memory aids for Wanita to investigate further and recommended she contact CAP to further explore assistive technology solutions.
CAP is a centrally funded Department of Defense (DoD) program that provides free assistive technology and related support service to DoD personnel and federal employees at 69 partner agencies. CAP’s mission is to provide assistive technology and accommodations to support federal employees with disabilities and wounded, ill and injured Service members throughout the Federal Government in accessing information and communication technology. Since CAP’s inception in 1990, CAP has provided over 160,000 accommodations – all at no cost to employing partner agencies.
Since Wanita worked at a CAP partner agency and her subordinate was a federal employee with a disability in need of an electronic device as cueing/memory aid, CAP was the logical place to turn. CAP provided the aid at no cost and went one step further.
As a result of a comprehensive needs assessment conducted by CAP specialists, noise canceling headphones to help create a quieter work environment were also provided. A needs assessment is an exchange of information that allows CAP to identify potential accommodations. CAP provides needs assessments in-person, over the phone or through a video teleconference.
An example like Wanita and her employee demonstrates how JAN and CAP can work together to ensure that federal employees with disabilities have equal access to information and communication technology in the workplace through best practices in management and assistive technology.
To learn more about CAP, visit www.cap.mil.