Effects of Accommodations on Participation of Employees with Disabilities

Project Team

Project Director: Frances Harris, Ph.D.
Project Team: J. Sanford, M.Arch. (Co-I), Hsiang-Yu Yang, OTD (Co-I), S. Sprigle, Ph.D. (Co-I)
Project Partner: RERC on Wheeled Mobility

Summary / Outcome Goals

Although it is well-documented that workplace accommodations can improve work task performance, little is known about the effect of these interventions on the participation of employees with disabilities in the workplace. The overall goal of this project is to better understand the influence of accommodations on participation. This initial exploratory study will map out those factors necessary to evaluate the relationship between accommodation, activity, and participation.

The specific aims are to: 1) use existing instruments to collect health, activity, and participation data on employees; 2) compare the health, activity, and participation of employees with and without disabilities; 3) quantify accommodation needs and the accommodations received by employees with disabilities; 4) relate received accommodations to activity and participation; and 5) synthesize the collected information to inform the development of a work-specific participation instrument.

Progress to Date

Participation measures in the workplace: Current measures on participation were reviewed. Although most participation measures assess employment or work as a domain of participation (e.g., LIFE-H, PARTS/M, CHART), few focus on participation in the context of the workplace. Measures selected for the first stage of study include: 1)Workplace Technology Predisposition Assessment (WTPA; Scherer & Glueckauf, 2005) because it is the only instrument with demonstrated reliability and validity that assesses those workplace accommodations that take the form of assistive technology; 2) The Impact on Participation and Autonomy (IPA; Kersten, 2004) which is a global, person perceived assessment of participation across all ICF domains, and 3) a study-specific survey that assesses accommodations needs and their impact on work performance and interpersonal relations from a person-perceived perspective.

Phase 1: Telephone interviews with 50 office-based employees with mobility disabilities were completed this year. A similar number of interviews were conducted with employees without disabilities for comparison. The interview asked employees about work accommodations they had received, participation in the workplace and their general health. In addition, a subset of 20 employees with disabilities participated in another semi-structured telephone interview in order to better understand the context of participation in the workplace.

Key Findings

Papers / Presentations

Initial findings from Phase 1 have been presented at the NARRTC and ICADI conferences.