Assessing Workplace Accommodations

Many factors are used to determine the best workplace accommodations for an individual. These factors include eye conditions, additional disabilities present, environmental issues within the workplace, and the job duties and daily tasks of an individual. All of these factors play an important part of the workplace assessment.

What is a workplace needs assessment?

A workplace needs assessment provides an overview of challenges employees with disabilities might face in the workplace. The assessment evaluates daily barriers that might impact confidence, well-being and productivity. This will recommend adjustments or support to help disabled employees be successful at work.

Choosing an evaluator is the best place to start. To do so, select an individual or agency with many years and a wide range of experience working within the disability field. Make sure to ask specific questions about their experience.

Different agencies can often provide a wealth of knowledge on vision loss. However, some agencies may not have a lot of experience with issues such as traumatic brain injuries, physical limitations, deaf-blindness or cognitive functioning issues.

Background

An evaluation should include eye conditions, physical disabilities, and other medical history. With knowledge of the eye condition, the evaluator can add other questions to the assessment. For example, an employee with cataracts may be impacted by glare, may not see letters clearly or may require high contrast adaptations to use a computer or maneuver an office space. Some stroke victims have vision loss and may only see out of part of one or both eyes. Questions in this evaluation will ask about sight, physical limitations, memory loss issues, and fatigue levels. 

Environmental concerns

Workplace environmental factors evaluated include:

  • Types of lighting, transitions from one environment to another, and task lighting. Depending on the eye condition, color-filtered lighting to aid in contrast or to help with focus or other learning disabilities may also be considered.

  • Noise and background activity that can make it harder to hear a screen reader and cause distractions.

  • Design features may be identified that can lead to increased scanning and contrast issues in an environment. Patterned counter or workstation tops can lead to challenges such as finding items like paper clips or tacks on the work surface.

Average environmental accommodations do not really require much additional cost. Some environmental accommodations may require moving the employee to a new work setting with more natural light or be positioned under an overhead light. The new location may have less traffic that previously made it hard for the employee to hear a screen reader. The screen reader can also be distracting to other employees, so a quieter location for these can benefit everyone.

Computer modifications 

The level of and type of vision loss determines appropriate computer modifications. When completing an assessment, the Outlook Enrichment team looks at what is built into the existing Microsoft or Apple operating systems before we look at other outside assistive technology. Individuals with low vision can often use built in accessibility features. These features include reduced screen displays or display settings in the accessibility or ease of settings to make fonts and images larger such as zoom. 

We also factor in the types of programs and tasks completed. For example, if a person’s job requires them to use a web-based interface, we may recommend Firefox as their primary browser. Firefox has many accessibility features that aren’t included in other Internet browsers, such as color and displaying inheritability features, and the ability to increase and change to specific font styles and sizes which will carry over to all pages. We would also show this person how to use keyboard commands to quickly navigate a webpage without having to visually locate and navigate the mouse on the screen.

Whether an employee with a disability needs locator dots, colored paper, or assistive technology, the cost of most accommodations is nominal. A recent Job Accommodation Network survey found the average accommodation costs only $500 or less. 

Outlook Enrichment can help employees with disabilities stay productive and successful. Contact us to learn more about our programs.

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