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AT @ Work. Tools to Accommodate Employees with Disabilities Revised May 2009 by the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology and Employment Collaborative, with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability and Employment Policy. Assistive Technology in the Workplace.

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AT @ Work

Tools to Accommodate Employees with Disabilities

Revised May 2009 by the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology and Employment Collaborative,

with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Labor,

Office of Disability and Employment Policy

Assistive Technologyin the Workplace

Why Are We Here?

People with disabilities can work!

Disability doesnot negate the

individual’s skills, talent, and knowledge.

Increased pool of potential employees.

Keep trained employees in the

workplace after injuries.

What Is Assistive Technology?

What Is Assistive Technology?


“any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities” (AT Act of 1998, as amended).


"any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device" (AT Act of 1998, as amended).

Assistive Technology Devices

Low Tech Devices: Inexpensive, easily made, easy to learn, readily available, easy to replace and maintain.

Early PDA…!

Large timer


Notebook with communication pictures

Assistive Technology Devices


Communication device

Large button phone

  • Mid: May cost more, require some training, have special design, often need power source.

Assistive Technology Devices

PDA with organizing software

Text to speech software

Refreshable braille display

  • High: Higher cost, need specific training to learn, often customized.

Eye-gaze computer access

Where AreAssistive Technology Devices?

Low, mid, and high tech devices can be found:

At common local stores (Home Depot, Staples)

At specialized vendors (Maxi-Aids, Infogrip, Dynavox)

In generic catalogs

On the Internet

Assistive Technology Services

Evaluation for appropriate devices.

Selection of the appropriate device.

Coordination with service providers (e.g., therapists, engineers).

Training / technical assistance for the person and supporting individuals (e.g., personal assistants).

Job Accommodations

Reasonable Accommodations for Individuals with Disabilities

Reasonable Accommodations

Also known as job accommodations.

Modifications or adjustments to job functions, work environments, or “the way things usually are done” so that an individual with a disability gets an equal employment opportunity.

Reasonable Accommodations

Enable a person with a disability to:

  • Participate equally in job application process

  • Perform “essential functions” of the job.

    • Fundamental job duties

    • Job descriptions

  • Enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.

Reasonable Accommodations

Reasonable accommodations need not be the “best” or “ideal” but need only be “effective.”

The employer does not have to provide an accommodation primarily for personal use.

Accommodations should assist in performing job functions.

Undue Hardship

A particular accommodation may not be required if it would cause “significant difficulty or expense” to the employer

Another effective accommodation should be sought and implemented

Reasonable Accommodations:The Interactive Process

  • The employee (or representative, such as spouse, friend, doctor, etc.) requests the reasonable accommodation.

  • The employer should initiate the interactive process,including the employee, supervisor, and other relevant people (e.g., human resources, doctors, computer experts, state vocational rehabilitation agency, etc.).

  • The employer must take affirmative steps to help the employee identify a possible accommodation.

  • The employee must be a part of the process.

  • Employers must provide an effective accommodation, not necessarily the exact accommodation requested by the employee.

  • If an effective, reasonable accommodation is agreed upon, it should be implemented.

Examples of Reasonable Accommodations

  • Making the work environment physically accessible

  • Altering when or how a job function is performed

  • Part-time or modified work schedules

  • Use of accrued or paid leave or allowing unpaid extra leave

  • Providing or modifying equipment

Examples of AT Accommodations

  • Can be low cost to high cost

    • Use of color to mark files/bins/controls

    • Simplified instructions using diagrams

    • Automatic bathroom soap dispensers and hand dryers

    • Automatic doors and/or ramp

The Cost of AT Accommodations

  • The potential employer or employer is responsible to fund any assistive technology accommodations for the application process or the job.

  • However, there are funding sources to help!

    • Federal and state tax credits and deductions

    • Independent Access Capital Network (ICAN)

    • Pennsylvania’s Assistive Technology Lending Library

Where to Get the Assistive Technology

Always ask the person who needs it.

Contact an assistive technology specialist for an evaluation.

Contact Pennsylvania’s Initiative on Assistive Technology (PIAT).

Contact the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF).

Search Internet, local stores, etc.

Sample Assistive Technology Devices for the Workplace

Remember – assistive technology selection is based on function,

not the employee’s disability!

Amplified Phones

In-line amplifier

Portable amplifier

Big button phone

Cordless amplified phone

Telecommunication Devices

Voice Carry-Over (VCO) Phone

TTY with Large Visual Display


Wyndtell (Wireless Device)

Talking Products

Talking Tape Measure

Talking Calculator


Bar Magnifier

Dome Magnifier

Illuminated Magnifier

Hand & Stand Magnifier

Magnified Lamp

Frequency Modulated (FM) Systems for Sound Amplification

Conference Microphone

Williams Sound Personal FM System

Voice Recognition Software (Speech to Text)

Voice Recognition allows a user

to use his / her voice as an input

device. Voice recognition may be

used to dictate text into the computer

or to give commands to the computer

(such as opening application programs,

pulling down menus, or saving work).

Text To Speech Software

Universal Reader


Ergonomic Keyboards

Contoured Keyboard

Goldtouch Keyboard

Ergonomic Keyboard


Typing Aids

Standard keyboard with acrylic keyguard

Slip-on typing aid


Kensington Turbo Mouse

Microsoft Optical Trackball

Penny & Giles Roller Trackball

Arm & Wrist Supports

ErgoRest Forearm Support

Gel Wrist Rests

Resources in Pennsylvania for Assistive Technology in the Workplace

Who can I contact for help?

Pennsylvania Assistive Technology and Employment Collaborative

  • A network of Pennsylvania organizations that can provide information on:

    • Assistive technology and how it can help individuals with disabilities in employment.

    • Understanding the employer’s responsibility for providing assistive technology.

    • How to locate, try, and buy assistive technology devices and services, including employer resources and incentives.

  • Funding provided by the U.S. Department of Labor,

    Office of Disability and Employment Policy

Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania (DRN)

The Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania (DRN) is a federally-funded, non-profit agency that is mandated to protect and advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.

DRN works with people with disabilities, families, organizations, and advocates to ensure that people with disabilities can live in their communities free of discrimination, abuse, and neglect.

DRN’s mission is to advance, protect, and advocate for the civil, human, and legal rights of Pennsylvanians with disabilities.

Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania (DRN)Services


Intake and referral

Individual and systemic policy advocacy

Legal advice and representation

Training and education

Among other issues, DRN helps with:

Access to assistive technology devices and services

Employment matters, including SSI and SSDI recipients who want employment

Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania (DRN)Contact Information


Offices in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, & Pittsburgh:

Main Intake in Harrisburg:

800-692-7443 [Voice]

877-375-7139 [TTY]

Assistive Technology Project Director:

Chava Kintisch, Esq.

Philadelphia, 215-238-8070 ext. 210 [Voice]

[email protected]


Pennsylvania's Initiative on Assistive Technology (PIAT)

P ublic awareness, information and assistance about AT

I ncreasing access to AT through demonstrations and device lending

A cquisition of AT devices and services, including device reuse programs and free adapted telephones

T raining and technical assistance about AT

Pennsylvania's Initiative on Assistive Technology (PIAT)

1-800-204-7428 (PIAT) -Voice

1-866-268-0579 - TTY

[email protected]

Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, 610 USB, 1601 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122

Statewide AT Resource Centers - ATRC

PIAT Assistive Technology Resource Centers







UCP of

Central PA



PA’s Initiative on Assistive Technology, Institute on Disabilities

Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital

Center for Independent Living of Northcentral PA

Community Resources for Independence, Inc.

Three Rivers Center for Independent Living

United Cerebral Palsy of Northeastern PA

Life and Independence for Today

Tri-County Patriots for Independent Living

United Cerebral Palsy Central PA

Thank you!

Additional AT Resources in PA

Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF)

The Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) is a non-profit organization that helps people with disabilities and their families purchase the assistive technology devices and services they want.

PATF serves people with all disabilities, family members, and older adults, regardless of where they live within Pennsylvania. PATF can help people of ALL income levels, but individuals must have an ability to repay a loan.

Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF)

Provides low-interest loans, mini-loans / mini-grants, information about other assistive technology programs in Pennsylvania, and information about other possible funding sources in Pennsylvania.

Provides significantly lower interest rates, extended repayment periods, flexible eligibility requirements, and rescue payments.

Consumer choice program. Borrowers choose the technology they want from the vendor of their choice!

Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) Contact Information


888-744-1938 [Toll-free voice/TTY]

484-674-0510 [Fax]

1004 West 9th Avenue

1st Floor

King of Prussia, PA 19406

Independence is priceless…we help make it affordable

Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Programs

The Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Programs assist Social Security beneficiaries with transitioning from dependence on public benefits to paid employment and greater economic self-sufficiency.

Pennsylvania has three WIPA Programs: AHEDD, Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania (DRN) WIPA Program, and Goodwill PASSABCO.

Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) Programs

Help Social Security beneficiaries who have received a Ticket to Work and are interested in working.

Help Social Security beneficiaries understand work rules and regulations.

Recommend work incentives that can maximize income and healthcare options.

Help Social Security beneficiaries understand how returning to work will impact benefits.

Connect Social Security beneficiaries with Employment Networks and other employment support services.

AHEDD Contact Information

AHEDD is a private, non-profit company established in 1977 with a mission to serve the community as a catalyst in the employment and development of persons with disabilities. AHEDD operates an array of employment programs by partnering with business and persons with disabilities through a network throughout Pennsylvania and Delaware.


Vice President: John Miller

(717) 763-0968 ext. 118 [Voice]

[email protected] [Email]

Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania (DRN) WIPA Program Contact Information

Serves Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties


Project Director: Phyllis Hilley

267-312-4789 [Voice]

[email protected] [Email]

Goodwill PASSABCO Contact Information

Serves 36 counties in Eastern Pennsylvania.


Project Director: Corey Nelson

866-541-7005 [Voice]

866-541-7001 [TTY]

[email protected] [Email] 

Pennsylvania BusinessLeadership Network (PA BLN)

The Pennsylvania Business Leadership Network (PA BLN) is an employer driven program designed for business leaders to promote hiring practices that enable qualified people with disabilities to enter and succeed in the workplace.

The emphasis of the PA BLN is to create opportunities where employers can communicate, peer-to-peer, to provide candid and frank assessments of hiring successes and challenges.

Pennsylvania BusinessLeadership Network (PA BLN)

Provides employers with access to a network of their peers as well as opportunities for training, positive public relations, an increased number of applicants with a disability, and a centralized source of information.

Part of a national initiative of about 43 chapters of BLNs in 32 states.

Pennsylvania BusinessLeadership Network (PA BLN)Contact Information


Project Director: Stacy Kyle

717-763-0968 ext. 115 [Voice]

[email protected] [Email]

Pennsylvania Client Assistance Program (CAP)

The Pennsylvania Client Assistance Program (CAP) serves as a vital link between vocational rehabilitation, independent living, and people with disabilities in the community.

CAP advises applicants and clients of services available under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

CAP provides information and referral about Title I of the ADA.

CAP provides outreach to unserved / underserved populations.

Pennsylvania Client Assistance Program (CAP)

Helps individuals pursue administrative and legal remedies to ensure protection of their rights under the Rehabilitation Act.

Helps individuals to resolve questions or concerns about vocational rehabilitation, independent living, and other services funded under the Rehabilitation Act.

Provides systemic advocacy on issues impacting the delivery of vocational rehabilitation services.

Pennsylvania Client Assistance Program (CAP)Contact Information


888-745-2357 [Voice/TTY - toll free in PA]

[email protected] [Email]

1617 JFK Blvd., Suite 800

Philadelphia, PA 19103

“The statewide advocate for people with disabilities: ensuring that vocational rehabilitation is open and responsive to your needs.”

Pennsylvania Statewide Independent Living CouncilEmployment Committee

The Pennsylvania Statewide Independent Living Council Employment Committee’s goal is to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities by working with employers, trade associations, Centers for Independent Living, the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, and others crucial to the employment of people with disabilities.

Pennsylvania Statewide Independent Living CouncilEmployment CommitteeContact Information


Coordinator: Melissa Simmons

(717) 364-1732 ext. 106 [Voice]

[email protected] [Email]

[email protected] [Email]

2 North 2nd St., Suite 100

Harrisburg, PA 17101

Bureau of Workforce Development Partnership

  • Mission

    • To ensure the efficient and effective advancement and encouragement for statewide and local productivity, achievement, growth and development that focuses on the abilities, innovation and creativity at the state and local level of a consolidated workforce program.

Bureau of Workforce Development Partnership

  • Responsible for the management, administration and oversight of operations for programs funded by the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), including: enrollment, service delivery, job training, contract development, and certification of training providers. Responsible for the management, administration and oversight of operations for programs funded by the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), including: enrollment, service delivery, job training, contract development, and certification of training providers.

Bureau of Workforce Development Partnership Contact Information

  • Creating opportunities for Pennsylvanians by ensuring universal access to workforce development, training, and education programs that equip individuals with the skills employers need to be successful.

  • For additional information please contact:

    • Bill Moulfair at (717) 772-8855 [Voice]

    • [email protected] [Email]

Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR)

  • OVR’s mission is to help Pennsylvanians with disabilities secure and maintain employment and independence.

  • The Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (BVRS) serves vocational needs of all individuals with disabilities except those with blindness or visual impairments.

  • The agency has 21 district offices in two field Bureaus located in 15 different communities across the Commonwealth.

Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR)

  • The Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS) focuses on the rehabilitation and independence of citizens with blindness or low vision.

  • BBVS also provides Rehabilitation Teaching, Orientation and Mobility Training, and Social Work services.

Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) Contact Information

All services are eligibility based, individualized based on need, and may only be provided in relation to achievement of an employment goal (with exception of the specialized services in BBVS).

  • Website: Keyword OVR

  • 1-800-442-635 / (717) 787-5244 (Voice)

  • 1-866-830-7327 / (717) 787-4885 (TTY)

  • 1-800-622-2842 / (717) 787-6176 (BBVS only)

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