The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that protects the rights of people with disabilities by eliminating barriers to their participation in many aspects of working and living in America. In particular, Title I of the ADA prohibits covered employers from discriminating against people with disabilities in the full range of employment-related activities, from recruitment to advancement to pay and benefits.
Advocating for Clients
Advocating for your client is important when searching for employment. Some key points to emphasize when advocating for clients with disabilities and finding them employment are:
Job Retention: Loyalty is common amongst employees with disabilities and their employers. Employees often remain at their jobs for years, which reduces turnover.
Dependability: Lower rates of absenteeism are common.
Attitude: Pride is demonstrated by arriving to work with a positive attitude.
Motivation: Employees report to work every day ready and willing to perform.
Training: Training can be sought out to assist the employee. They can be assisted with learning the requirements of the job by skilled job coaches, which reduces employer training time.
Abilities: Advocating your client’s abilities as opposed to their disabilities is important.
Considering Assistive Technology
What do we mean when we say assistive technology?
An assistive technology device is defined as any item, piece of equipment, or product system that can be purchased or modified to increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities for persons with disabilities.
Not aware of the assistive technology available or if your client can benefit from any?
There are organizations that can provide guidance on addressing these concerns. Seek expert advice from organizations or programs that provide:
- Device Demonstrations
- AT Assessments
- Device Loans
- Information and Referrals
How can I determine if my client can benefit from assistive technology?
First, identify your client’s interests and functional limitations. If the client’s interests require them to perform job duties in the areas they are limited, then the client can possibly benefit from AT. Once identified, seek assistance from an AT service provider in your area. It is important to seek out an appropriate AT service provider for expertise on AT needed. Doing so saves you from spending money on AT that does not suit your client’s needs, allows your client to be more knowledgeable of AT devices and his or her needs. and provides training and a wealth of knowledge on AT to you as a service provider, which will increase your ability to provide quality services.
Control over Decisions:
Even while accessing assistive technology, it is important to allow your client to have control over their decisions. Allow your client to have control over the appointment, and choose a device that works best for them. Also, it is important to have your client present and actively participating in the assistive technology trial. Although your client is actively participating and making autonomous choices, as a service provider, be sure that you are versed on your client’s needs and level of knowledge of assistive technology. This way, you can prompt and guide the AT expert and prevent them from overwhelming your client with excess information.
Some Categories of Assistive Technology include:
- Daily Living
- Environmental Adaptations
- Mobility, Seating & Positioning
- Computer Access
- Learning & Cognitive Development
- Vehicle Modification and Transportation
Transitioning to Employment Tips
A transition can be considered a role or location change. Transition into a workplace for an individual with a disability can sometimes be difficult due to limitations, such as: others’ prejudice of someone with a disability, the complexity of services needed to support the transition, and finding suitable employment.
Service provider transition tips:
Knowing your client
- Learn your client’s interests
- Be aware of your client’s abilities, limitations, skills and transferable skills
- Their level of education and/or work/volunteer experience
- Their level of motivation to find employment
Developing reachable and appropriate goals
- Focus on your client’s abilities and skills
- Be specific
- Include goals relevant to the selected field of employment
Transition services needed to reach those goals
- Additional courses of study
- Job coaching
- Assistive Technology
- Need for reasonable accommodation
- Obtain additional assessments
- Independent living skills as needed
- Volunteering to gain work experience
- Resume building skills
Teaching and allowing the client to self-advocate
- Knowledgeable on rights for individuals with disabilities
- A good working relationship with his/her support system
When searching for employment, transportation is key. Employers often ask if a potential employee has reliable transportation. When considering places of employment with your client, be conscious of distance between the place of employment and your client’s home.
A Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS):
PASS is a plan for the future, designed for persons with disabilities who want to work, go back to school before getting a job, start their own business, or purchase a vehicle or pay for transportation. If your client is a person with a disability that receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/ or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and has an amount less than $2,000 in countable resources, he or she may be eligible for a PASS. To learn more about PASS, visit www.passonline.org.
Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE):
An ABLE account is a type of tax-advantaged account that can be used to save funds for the disability-related expenses of the account’s designated beneficiary. The beneficiary must have the onset of his or her disability prior to the age of 26. The designated beneficiary must be:
Receiving SSI based on disability or blindness that began before age 26
Entitled to SSDI, Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB), or Disabled Widows or Widowers Benefits (DWB) based on disability or blindness that began before age 26
Someone whose primary care physician has certified that he or she is disabled or blind by a condition that began before age 26.
Examples of qualified disability expenses include education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, and assistive technology and related services. For more information, visit http://ablenrc.org/about/what-are-able-accounts.
Impairment-Related Work Expenses (IRWE): SSI and SSDI eligible
IRWE allows for a deduction of the cost of certain impairment-related items and services needed for work from your gross earnings. This is only if it is decided that your employment is a substantial gainful activity (SGA). Items or services can be deducted if it enables you to work, if the items or services are needed because of physical or mental impairment, if you pay for the items or services, if you do not get reimbursed by sources such as Medicare or Medicaid, and if the cost is reasonable. Types of deductible expenses include: transportation costs, attendant care services, service animals, medical devices, prostheses, residential modifications, etc.
To learn more, read the Social Security Red Book: https://www.ssa.gov/redbook/documents/TheRedBook2017.pdf
LATAN is a 501(c)(3) statewide nonprofit organization with the mission to help people of all ages with functional limitations or disabilities to gain greater independence at work, home, or school through the use of Assistive Technology(AT).
©2018 Louisiana Assistive Technology Access Network.