AbleData logoIn this guest blog post by Able Data, learn about assistive technology (AT) that may help you succeed in the work place as a person with a disability. Find AT options that can be used in office and non-office settings that could help boost your productivity.

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Ticket to Work logo and The Seal of the United States Social Security Administration
Ticket to Work logo and The Seal of the United States Social Security Administration
Ticket to Work logo and The Seal of the United States Social Security Administration
Access to Employment Support Services for Social Security Disability Beneficiaries Who Want to Work
 
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Using Assistive Technology in the Workplace

Aug 21, 2017

By Guest Blogger Sadie Hagberg, AbleData

From computers, phones and copiers, to machinery, hand tools and vehicles — most of us use some form of technology at work to help us complete tasks more easily and efficiently. But, if you have a disability, assistive technology (AT) can help you perform job tasks that you might not otherwise be able to do.

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AT can help people with disabilities adapt and transition to different workplace settings and needs. If you'd like to learn more, search the AbleData database by "workplace" to find products that fit your needs. Below are some examples of AT in office and non-office environments.

AT for office settings

  • Ergonomic keyboards are designed to minimize strain and discomfort in your hands, wrists, shoulders and back. Alternatively, an adapted keyboard can be designed to meet your specific needs, such as a one-handed keyboard if you only have the use of one hand.
  • Screen readers are software programs that you can use if you are blind or have low vision. A screen reader identifies what is on your computer and reads it in a computerized voice so you can hear it.
  • Screen magnifiers to make screen text larger if you have low vision. You could also use a larger computer screen.
  • Voice recognition software can be great if you have limb loss, limited muscle control or hand-use, or conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome. This software allows you to speak commands to operate your computer.
  • Screen clips hold paper in place to decrease neck strain while you type information from printed documents.
  • Microphone headsets help to reduce neck strain and back pain while talking on the phone by allowing you to hold your head in an upright, neutral position.

AT for non-office settings

  • Hand tools such as hammers, wrenches, screwdrivers and tire gauges are available with accessible features depending on your needs. If you are a carpenter with limited hand strength, a contoured hammer offers a firm, slip resistant hold. If you are a car mechanic who is blind or with low vision, a torque wrench with voice output will help.
  • Outdoor mobility aids, including outdoor wheelchairs designed for rugged terrain, are essential in getting around if you work in an agricultural setting.
  • To help with harvesting hay, an adaptive bale spear fits onto the back of a pick-up truck and can be used as a bed hoist, log splitter and bale un-roller.
  • Modifications for your work vehicle can include lifts and hoists to help you get into and out of your truck if you have a lower limb mobility disability. There are many commercially available, or you can check out a do-it-yourself wheelchair lift.
  • For tractors and combines, lift and hand control modifications are typical for people with lower limb disabilities. Battery-operated mechanical lifts will get you in and out of your tractor or combine. You can also modify your vehicle with hand controls to operate the brake, clutch and gas pedals with your hands.
  • If you have grasping difficulties or limited upper-extremity strength, modifications for the steering wheel are available. Spinner steering devices mounted on the steering wheel provide a relatively simple modification that can offer you better steering control with little effort.

Tips for obtaining workplace AT

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations, including AT, for employees with disabilities, but you will need to make requests for accommodations. For guidance and help making requests and negotiating reasonable accommodations, the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) can help. Check out their post on writing an accommodation request letter for tips.

Additional Resources

About the Guest Blogger

Sadie Hagberg performs programmatic tasks related to AbleData call center operations, AT product database maintenance, and website and marketing activities. She is primarily responsible for ensuring the quality of all AbleData products and services.

About Ticket to Work

The Ticket to Work program can also help you learn more about and request reasonable accommodations like AT.

Social Security's Ticket program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work. The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.

A Ticket program service provider, like an Employment Network, can help you through the process of requesting accommodations as you apply for jobs, go on interviews, and transition to a workplace.

Learn More

To learn more about the Ticket program, visit www.ssa.gov/work. You can also call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.