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Employment and Assistive technology

I understand this is a longer blog then most of you have time for, however, it is worth reading, if limited on time, jump down to key findings.

 

For people with disabilities, employment is the best route to independence. I strongly feel that Assistive technology (AT) is often crucial in removing barriers to employment, and in enabling clients with disabilities to work more productively.

 

In a research study “Assistive technology and employment: Experiences of Californians with disabilities” by Yeager, Patricia, Kaye, H. Stephen, Reed, Myisha, and Doe, Tanis M. the following was found.

 

“A participatory action research project… surveyed people with disabilities using Independent Living Centers… in part to identify barriers to employment and study use of job-related AT to overcome such barriers.

 

Across disability groups, disability itself was cited as the primary barrier to employment, with potential loss of benefits and lack of education cited as secondary barriers.

 

A majority of working respondents reported using assistive technology (such as adapted telephones, wheelchairs, magnifiers, and adapted computer equipment) or services to perform job functions. The vast majority of those using job-related AT reported substantial benefits to their productivity and self-esteem. Employees’ requests for AT as a workplace accommodation were granted more often than not, but many other employees had to pay for their own workplace AT” (Yeager, Kaye, Reed, and Doe).

 
Key findings from the Research
  • 2000 people with disabilities participated
  • About two-thirds of respondents (66 percent) used some form of AT in their daily lives; nearly half (49 percent) used multiple devices
  • The most common disability types were mobility (63 percent), mental health (29 percent), cognitive (24 percent), and visual (23 percent).
  • Of those who worked, 44 percent used some type of assistive technology to perform their work tasks, 23 percent made use of workplace accessibility features such as ramps and ergonomic furniture, and 20 percent used assistive services, such as job coaches, assistants, readers, or interpreters.
  • Devices regarded as most helpful to respondents in living independently included computers, adapted or ordinary vehicles, scooters, and electric wheelchairs.
  • Use of workplace AT more than doubled with educational attainment—only 29 percent of working respondents with no college education used workplace AT, compared to 64 percent of those with graduate or professional degrees.
  • Computer technology was cited by the greatest number of respondents (22 percent) as being most helpful in getting or keeping a job.
  • More than two-thirds (68 percent) of respondents using AT at work reported that their AT helps them “a lot” or “immensely” in performing their work duties.
  • Specific benefits of using AT on the job include improved productivity (85 percent of respondents using AT work), improved self-esteem (72 percent), and better attendance (59 percent).
 
Read the full study

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