Printer Friendly
The Free Library
22,728,043 articles and books

Accommodating specific job functions for people with hearing impairments.

Finding and maintaining employment is a continuing problem for individuals who have disabilities. Individuals with hearing impairments hearing impairment
A reduction or defect in the ability to perceive sound.
 (deaf or hard of hearing) report problems entering the workforce and operating within the workplace. Many jobs require that workers attend to auditory auditory /au·di·to·ry/ (aw´di-tor?e)
1. aural or otic; pertaining to the ear.

2. pertaining to hearing.

 cues to ensure effective performance and worker safety. Nearly every job involves communicating with customers, co-workers, and/or and/or  
Used to indicate that either or both of the items connected by it are involved.

Usage Note: And/or is widely used in legal and business writing.
 others. Solutions have been developed, however, that can assist the worker to perform the functions of many jobs. Collecting information to solve a specific accommodation problem is a difficult process. Information about adaptations that assist workers with disabilities to perform job functions is dispersed dis·perse  
v. dis·persed, dis·pers·ing, dis·pers·es
a. To drive off or scatter in different directions: The police dispersed the crowd.

. Job descriptions that help identify essential job functions are hard to find. Employers and people with disabilities are not aware of the variety of assistive devices assistive device Public health Any device designed or adapted to help people with physical or emotional disorders to perform actions, tasks, and activities. See Americans with Disabilities Act, Architectural barriers, Assistive technology.  and technologies that are available from manufacturers.


The Americans with Disabilities Act Americans with Disabilities Act, U.S. civil-rights law, enacted 1990, that forbids discrimination of various sorts against persons with physical or mental handicaps.  (ADA Ada, city, United States
Ada (ā`ə), city (1990 pop. 15,820), seat of Pontotoc co., S central Okla.; inc. 1904. It is a large cattle market and the center of a rich oil and ranch area.
) has galvanized gal·va·nize  
tr.v. gal·va·nized, gal·va·niz·ing, gal·va·niz·es
1. To stimulate or shock with an electric current.

 action by requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations reasonable accommodations A standard of providing for a worker's or customer's needs, as mandated by the ADA, which requires that a business make appropriate changes in the environment to accommodate those with mental or physical disabilities as long as such . The employment options for workers with disabilities are expanded when accommodation solutions facilitate performance of essential job functions. In recent years, there has been increased interest in competitive employment of people with disabilities. Parent and Everson (1986) discussed thirteen journal articles that examined disability and the workplace. The types of disabilities and occupations varied widely across the 13 articles, but the overall conclusions were consistent. The authors found low absenteeism ab·sen·tee·ism  
1. Habitual failure to appear, especially for work or other regular duty.

2. The rate of occurrence of habitual absence from work or duty.
, low accident rates, and low turnover rates for employees who have a disability. In addition, they found productivity, job performance, and employment costs to be on a par with employees who do not have a disability. The jobs represented in the study ranged from service occupations (e.g., housekeeping A set of instructions that are executed at the beginning of a program. It sets all counters and flags to their starting values and generally readies the program for execution. , food service worker) to clerical (e.g., data processor, file clerk) to technical fields (e.g., graphic arts graphic arts: see aquatint; drawing; drypoint; engraving; etching; illustration; linoleum block printing; lithography; mezzotint; niello; pastel; poster; silk-screen printing; silhouette; silverpoint; sketch; stencil; woodcut and wood engraving. , medical lab worker).

A worker with a disability may require a high-tech or low-tech accommodation in order to perform tasks that comprise a specific job. The accommodation should be directly related to an essential job function and lead to an increase in the productivity of the worker. A widely held belief of employers is that accommodations are expensive. A poll of 2,000 federal contractors, however, revealed that 81% of the accommodations made cost $500 or less (Pati PATI P-Aminothiophenol
PATI Passive Airborne Time-Difference Intercept Automatic Direction Finding
 & Morrison, 1982). In addition, responses from employers concerning the cost of workplace accommodations that were implemented were solicited by the Job Accommodation Network (Hendricks & Hirsh, 1991; Job Accommodation Network, 1987). As in the Pati and Morrison (1982) study, these responses revealed that most accommodations cost less than $500. Similarly, during the last quarter of 1994, staff of the Job Accommodation Network solicited and received 146 follow-up follow-up,
n the process of monitoring the progress of a patient after a period of active treatment.



follow-up plan
 responses from employers. In 19% of these cases, the accommodation had no dollar cost, 49% cost less than $500, and 14% cost more than $2,000. Braille Braille (brāl), in astronomy, a small asteroid notable because it has the same atypical geologic composition as the larger asteroid Vesta.  labels, modifications to telephone equipment, handrails, ramps, and adjusted work schedules are examples of inexpensive modifications that can improve worker productivity. Accommodations for a worker who has a hearing impairment might involve TT/TDD equipment, a telephone amplifier or headset Headphones combined with a microphone. Used in call centers and by people in telephone-intensive jobs, headsets provide the equivalent functionality of a telephone handset with hands-free operation. Many people use headsets at the computer so they can converse and type comfortably. , or meeting room amplification amplification /am·pli·fi·ca·tion/ (33000) (am?pli-fi-ka´shun) the process of making larger, such as the increase of an auditory stimulus, as a means of improving its perception. . These options are all relatively inexpensive and can result in increased worker productivity.

Accommodation and Hearing Impairment

People with hearing impairment are a heterogeneous Not the same. Contrast with homogeneous.

heterogeneous - Composed of unrelated parts, different in kind.

Often used in the context of distributed systems that may be running different operating systems or network protocols (a heterogeneous network).
 population, representing the range of diversity found within the population as a whole. The complement of services provided to a particular individual, then, must reflect that individual's specific needs and not be based on diagnosis of hearing impairment alone (Danek, Seay, & Collier, 1989). The primary functional limitation of hearing impairment is usually considered to be a deficit in communicating. The vocational impact of hearing impairment tends to center around the issues of communication problems, education, inadequate vocational guidance vocational guidance: see guidance and counseling. , discrimination in employment, over-representation in lower-level jobs, attitudinal barriers in employment settings, and a lack of appropriate adaptive technology Adaptive technology is the name for products which help people who cannot use regular versions of products, primarily people with physical disabilities such as limitations to vision, hearing, and mobility.  (Schildroth, Rawlings, & Allen Al·len , Edgar 1892-1943.

American anatomist who is noted for his studies of hormones and for the discovery (1923) of estrogen.
, 1991).

Assistive communication and alerting devices are becoming more sophisticated and more affordable. No benefit accrues, however, when employers, people with disabilities, and service providers are unaware of these state-of-the-art devices (Leder, Spitzer, Richardson, & Murray Murray, river, Australia
Murray, principal river of Australia, 1,609 mi (2,589 km) long, rising in the Australian Alps, SE New South Wales, and flowing westward to form the New South Wales–Victoria boundary.
, 1988). Leder, et al. (1988) interviewed 25 males who had profound hearing impairment and were about to undergo surgery for cochlear implants Cochlear Implants Definition

A cochlear implant is a surgical treatment for hearing loss that works like an artificial human cochlea in the inner ear, helping to send sound from the ear to the brain.
. Subjects were asked about their use of assistive technology Hardware and software that help people who are physically impaired. Often called "accessibility options" when referring to enhancements for using the computer, the entire field of assistive technology is quite vast and even includes ramp and doorway construction in buildings to support . Only 11 of these 25 people used an assistive device(s). Some of those who did not use any assistive technology explained that (a) they did not know about the devices (n=4), (b) the devices were too costly (n=2), (c) family members hear for me (n=1), and (d) they had no one to call on an adapted phone (n=1). Those who used assistive devices reported that they were essential for safety (e.g., to alert police, fire, and health professionals), to keep them informed about news events and weather, and to stay in touch with family and friends. The authors of the study concluded that one responsibility of service providers to be aware of developments in assistive technology and to disseminate dis·sem·i·nate  
v. dis·sem·i·nat·ed, dis·sem·i·nat·ing, dis·sem·i·nates
1. To scatter widely, as in sowing seed.

 this information to those with hearing impairments.

Technology and changing societal so·ci·e·tal  
Of or relating to the structure, organization, or functioning of society.

so·cie·tal·ly adv.

 attitudes encourage people with hearing impairments (and other people with a disability) to expand their career options. Communication devices, alerting devices, speech aids, and other assistive technologies can adapt an environment so that an individual can meet performance criteria. Dissemination dissemination Medtalk The spread of a pernicious process–eg, CA, acute infection Oncology Metastasis, see there  of information about these devices, however, is slow. Methods of educating people about the options that are currently available must be developed and exploited.

Job Accommodation Network

One response to the problem of locating workplace accommodation information is the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) which is funded through the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. JAN is an international consulting resource on methods of implementing accommodation solutions in the workplace. JAN consultants assist employers in finding specific products and methods that will aid workers with disabilities to perform the essential job functions. Since 1984, JAN staff have completed thousands of cases that involved making a recommendation for an accommodation for a person with a hearing impairment.

The result of a call to JAN is a specific suggestion(s) for making a workplace accommodation(s). The process consists of (a) systematic description of the problem, (b) cooperative matching of the capabilities of the potential worker with the essential functions of the job, and (c) specific recommendations for accommodation(s). The volume of calls from private-sector industry is evidence of both the magnitude of the problem and of the competence of the JAN staff. During 1992, JAN received over 1,500 calls each month from employers, people who have a disability, and service providers. Employers and employees have access to information they need that is in a form they can use. This type of support has proven valuable to employers and individuals with disabilities (Job Accommodation Network, 1993).

Research Questions

Are people with hearing impairments applying for or engaged in a variety of jobs? Are the essential functions to be accommodated primarily related to communication issues? Are employers more concerned about accommodations for a new hire or when the accommodation would result in retention or promotion of a current employee? What specific accommodation suggestions are made for workers with hearing impairments? Further, what are the interrelationships among type of job, essential job function, the employee's career progression, and accommodation suggestions? This investigation was designed to answer these questions. Systematic description of the variables and their relationships to one another allows a more thorough view of workplace accommodations for people with hearing impairments.



The records for this investigation contain information provided by callers to the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) from May 1, 1992 through April 30, 1993. Only cases concerned with accommodations for people with hearing impairments were analyzed an·a·lyze  
tr.v. an·a·lyzed, an·a·lyz·ing, an·a·lyz·es
1. To examine methodically by separating into parts and studying their interrelations.

2. Chemistry To make a chemical analysis of.

 (n-392). The hearing impairment group is the largest disability sub-group within the JAN database, and most of the hearing-related cases were handled and recorded by the same consultant. The confidentiality of individual case records was respected in accord with American Psychological Association The American Psychological Association (APA) is a professional organization representing psychology in the US. Description and history
The association has around 150,000 members and an annual budget of around $70m.
 and West Virginia University West Virginia University, mainly at Morgantown; coeducational; land-grant and state supported; est. and opened 1867 as an agricultural college, renamed 1868.  guidelines guidelines, a set of standards, criteria, or specifications to be used or followed in the performance of certain tasks.


The design included the variables of type of job (n=11), essential function (n=14), and career progression (n=6) to determine the relationships among these variables and the accommodation suggestion that was recommended to the caller Caller may refer to one of the following:
  • Caller (telecommunications), a party that originates a call
  • Caller (dancing), a person that calls dance figures in round dances and square dances
  • Caller to Islam, the Islamic equivalent of a Christian missionary
. Thus, the intent was to generate one-way frequency tables as well as relevant two-way relationships to describe the patterns of job accommodations for people with hearing impairments.

The type of job reported by the caller was classified as Clerical, Professional/Technical, Craft, All Job Classes, Operative OPERATIVE. A workman; one employed to perform labor for another.
     2. This word is used in the bankrupt law of 19th August, 1841, s. 5, which directs that any person who shall have performed any labor as an operative in the service of any bankrupt shall be
, Paraprofessional paraprofessional

1. a person who is specially trained in a particular field or occupation to assist a veterinarian.

2. allied animal health professional.

3. pertaining to a paraprofessional.
, Service, Labor, Manager/Administrator, Sales, or Other/Unknown. The job categories are an expanded version of the US Census categories. For example, census data include Clerical jobs within the Administrative category, but Clerical jobs were treated as a separate category for this study. The All Job Classes category included those accommodations that were for a variety of job types within a single business or agency. For example, a caller may have had concerns about accessibility during a training session that involved employees from many job categories.

The essential functions of a job, as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990), are "Those basic job duties that an employee must perform to satisfy the scope of a job." Determining which job functions are essential and whether those functions can be adapted or accommodated so that a particular individual with a disability can perform the job are ADA mandates.

There are three criteria that distinguish an essential function from a marginal one. First, the function is essential to the job if the position was created to perform that function. For example, making change is an essential function for a cashier CASHIER. An officer of a moneyed institution, who is entitled by virtue of his office to take care of the cash or money of such institution.
     2. The cashier of a bank is usually entrusted with all the funds of the bank, its notes, bills, and other choses in
 since the job was created so that customers could make purchases. Second, the function is essential if it must be performed by a specific employee because the company has a limited number of employees. For example, the only employee available to load the delivery truck in a small florist shop is the driver of the truck. Therefore, loading the truck is an essential function of the truck driver's job. Third, a function is essential if special expertise is required to perform it. For example, an essential function for a job as an interpreter A high-level programming language translator that translates and runs the program at the same time. It translates one program statement into machine language, executes it, and then proceeds to the next statement.  for the deaf is skill in American Sign Language American Sign Language
The primary sign language used by deaf and hearing-impaired people in the United States and Canada.

American Sign Language (ASL),

Examination of the 392 cases revealed 14 essential functions to be accommodated. They were Respond to Emergency, Respond to Normal Sounds, Respond to Abnormal Sounds, Respond to Page, Respond to Vehicles, Communicate via Phone, Use 2-Way Radio, Communicate with Co-worker, Communicate with Customer, Participate in Meetings, Transcribe To copy data from one medium to another; for example, from one source document to another, or from a source document to the computer. It often implies a change of format or codes.  Tape, Take Vital Signs, Function in Noisy Noisy is the name or part of the name of six communes of France:
  • Noisy-le-Grand in the Seine-Saint-Denis département
  • Noisy-le-Roi in the Yvelines département
  • Noisy-le-Sec in the Seine-Saint-Denis département
 Environment, and Participate in Training. Communication was at issue in most of the essential functions. Workers needed accommodations in order to communicate over the phone or 2-way radio, talk with customers or coworkers, or participate during meetings or training events. Several essential functions concerned worker safety. For example, workers required accommodations so that they could respond to alarms, other vehicles, or abnormal sounds from equipment.

The career progression of the person with a hearing impairment was recorded as Job Retention, New Hire, Improvement, Training, Advancement, or Job Seeking. The Retention category generally included those individuals who were injured in·jure  
tr.v. in·jured, in·jur·ing, in·jures
1. To cause physical harm to; hurt.

2. To cause damage to; impair.

 on the job or had a progressive hearing loss and were trying to maintain employment. The New Hire category included those cases where an employer is considering a person with a disability for a particular job. In Improvement cases, employment was not dependent on finding accommodation, but the worker's productivity or satisfaction would be improved if one could be found. Training cases were those for which an accommodation would permit the individual with a disability to take part in a job-related training program. In Advancement cases, the employee was being considered for a promotion. Job Seeking cases involved determining what accommodations may be needed before the individual approaches a potential employer.

The accommodation suggestions included the equipment/devices, schedule changes, or worksite modifications that were suggested to callers. The products and adaptations recommended as accommodations were categorized cat·e·go·rize  
tr.v. cat·e·go·rized, cat·e·go·riz·ing, cat·e·go·riz·es
To put into a category or categories; classify.

 into 36 groups within six classes. The Signal class was composed of those products which allow a signal that is typically received in an auditory mode (e.g., bell, whistle A simple whistle is a woodwind instrument which produces sound from a stream of forced air.

Many types exist, from small police and sports whistles (also called pea whistles), to much larger train whistles, which are steam whistles specifically designed for use on
, alarm) to be either seen or felt by an individual who has a hearing impairment. For example, paging devices are typically worn on the belt and signal the worker via a series of beeps, but pagers are available which vibrate to signal the worker. The Telephone and Amplification class of products included (a) TT/TDD equipment which allows callers to send visual rather than auditory messages over telephone lines, (b) FM loop systems which amplify the voices of people in a meeting room and transmit To send data over a communications line. See transfer.  them to a headset worn by the worker with a hearing impairment, and (c) amplified stethoscopes for medical professionals. The Communication Aids class of products included open and closed captioning options for videotapes, use of sign language and interpreters, as well as communication boards. The Computer class of products included computer equipment purchases as well as modifications to existing computer equipment (e.g., SeeBeep - - which converts the beeping Beeping is a cellphone communications tactic where a cash-strapped cellphone caller gets the person he/she is "beeping" to call him/her back. [1] Method  prompts generated by the computer into a particular screen flash). The Environmental class of products included soundproof sound·proof  
Not penetrable by audible sound.

soundproof v.
 baffles to reduce noise in the work area and moving the worker away from noise produced by equipment, customers, or other employees. Requests for assistance in introducing a new employee into the worksite or for rights information were classed as "Other."

Type of job, essential functions, career progression, and accommodation suggestions were used to describe the range of workplace accommodations for those with hearing impairments. It was anticipated that these variables would allow analysis of current workplace accommodations for people with hearing impairments.


The procedure included coding and generating a computer dataset from the text database used by the Job Accommodation Network staff. The type of job and career progression of the employee or potential employee were recorded by the staff member by selecting an option from a list. The information concerning the essential function(s) and the accommodation suggestion were recorded in prose form within the "notes" section of each case. The data on type of job and career progression were verified ver·i·fy  
tr.v. ver·i·fied, ver·i·fy·ing, ver·i·fies
1. To prove the truth of by presentation of evidence or testimony; substantiate.

 by referring to case information (e.g., the name of the business and the case notes). The essential functions and accommodation suggestion were obtained by reading the case notes. Prior to scoring the data for these cases, the two investigators worked together to develop the scoring protocol by scoring cases jointly. Each investigator was responsible for scoring one half of the remaining cases. Approximately five percent of the cases were re-scored to ensure consistency of recording.


Frequency counts for type of job, essential functions, career progression, and accommodation suggestions were generated. Tables were constructed to present the data. The nature of job accommodations and products required for the specific types of jobs, essential functions, and career progressions are described. In addition, relationships among the independent variables demonstrate interactions of variables such as career progression and job type.

Type of Job

The type of job, frequency, and percentage are listed in the first three columns of Table 1. Each frequency count represents one of the 392 cases in the population.

It is often noted that people with hearing impairment are underemployed un·der·em·ployed  
1. Employed only part-time when one needs and desires full-time employment.

2. Inadequately employed, especially employed at a low-paying job that requires less skill or training than one possesses.
 and over-represented in unskilled labor jobs. These cases, however, yielded a large proportion of employees in "white collar" occupations. The largest single category was Professional/Technical (25%). The Clerical, Paraprofessional, and Manager/Administrator categories totaled 127 or 32% of the cases. The lower-end [TABULAR tab·u·lar
1. Having a plane surface; flat.

2. Organized as a table or list.

3. Calculated by means of a table.


resembling a table.
 DATA FOR TABLE 1 OMITTED] jobs (Craft, Labor, Operative) made up less than 20%.

Analysis of the frequencies of type of job by essential function showed that specific essential functions were not uniquely associated with a specific type of job. Rather, each of the types of jobs (excluding All Job Classes and Other/Unknown) had at least six essential functions associated with it (mean=9.5). For example, people in Clerical occupations needed accommodations for nine essential functions (Communicate via Phone, n=80, Communicate with Co-workers, n=22, Communicate with Customer, n=18, Respond to Normal Sounds, n=15, Transcribe Tape, n=15, Respond to Emergency, n=12, Participate in Meetings, n=9, Participate in Training, n=8, Function in Noisy Environment, n=6).

The primary (most frequent) essential function associated with each type of job is presented in Table 1. For example, 21% of the essential function frequencies for the Professional/Technical type of jobs were Communicate via Phone concerns. As a second example, 25% of the frequencies for essential function for Service jobs required an accommodation for Communicate with Customer.

The primary career progression associated with each type of job (Table 1) demonstrated that, overall, employers were most concerned with Job Retention of a current employee or Improvement of the current job situation. For example, 48% of the frequencies of career progression for Labor cases were in the Job Retention category. As a second example, 55% of the frequencies for career progression in the Manager/Administrator cases were in the Improvement category of career progression.

The primary accommodation suggestion associated each type of job appears in Table 1. For example, 20% of the accommodation suggestion frequencies for Clerical cases involved Phone Amplifiers. As a second example, 16% of the accommodation suggestion frequencies for Craft job cases were for Vibrating vibrating,
v using quivering hand motions made across the client's body for therapeutic purposes.
 Signal products.

Essential Function

The essential functions for the 392 cases totaled 521 since a job could include more than one essential function. In Table 2, the predominant pre·dom·i·nant  
1. Having greatest ascendancy, importance, influence, authority, or force. See Synonyms at dominant.

 essential functions are Communicate over the Phone and Communicate with Co-workers (total=38%). As may be expected, over half of the frequencies for essential functions involved communication. Callers sought information related to communication difficulties over the phone, via radio, face-to-face, in group meetings, and during training (total = 62%). Safety concerns of the employers were reflected in the Respond to Emergency, Respond to Normal Sounds, Respond to Vehicles, and Respond to Abnormal Sounds categories (total=24%).

In the remaining columns of Table 2, relationships of essential function to (a) type of job and (b) accommodation suggestion are described. The relationship between essential function and career progression is not included because of a lack of logical relationship. That is, essential functions were tied to the work to be done (type of job) rather than the employment status (career progression).

The primary (most frequent) type of job associated with each essential function is included in Table 2. For example, 50% of the type of job frequencies for the Respond to Vehicles essential function were from the Labor job type. As a second example, 30% of job type frequencies for the Communicate with Co-worker functions were for Professional/Technical jobs. While these were the primary types of jobs associated with the essential functions (Table 2), it is also important to note the dispersion dispersion, in chemistry
dispersion, in chemistry, mixture in which fine particles of one substance are scattered throughout another substance. A dispersion is classed as a suspension, colloid, or solution.
 of jobs across each essential function. Both Participate in Training and Communicate via Phone were associated with 10 of the 11 types of jobs.


The primary accommodation suggestion associated with each essential function is reported in Table 2. For example, as might be expected, 62% of the accommodation suggestion frequencies for the Take Vital Signs function involved Stethoscope stethoscope (stĕth`əskōp') [Gr.,=chest viewer], instrument that enables the physican to hear the sounds made by the heart, the lungs, and various other organs. The earliest stethoscope, devised by the French physician R. T. H.  Amplifier. As a second example, 15% of the accommodation suggestion frequencies for Function in Noisy Environment were Sound Proofing.

Career Progression

There were 390 cases that included data on career progression. As seen in Table 3, Job Retention, New Hires, and Job Improvement accounted for more than 90% of the cases. Nearly one-third of the cases represented New Hire or Job Seeking employment status. Less than 3%, however, involved the Advancement (promotion) of a current employee.

In the remaining column of Table 3, the relationship of career progression to type of job is described. The relationships of (a) career progression to essential function and (b) career progression to accommodation suggestion are omitted. Although these tables were computed, career progression is not linked in any meaningful way to either of these variables. For example, an accommodation suggestion (e.g., TT/TDD) is related directly to the functions of the job (e.g., Communicate with Customer, Communicate via Phone) but not to whether the employee is seeking a job or is in training.

The primary (most frequent) type of job associated with career progression may be seen in Table 3. For example, 33% of the type of job frequencies for Job Seeking were Clerical jobs. As a second example, 26% of the type of job frequencies for Job Retention cases involved Professional/Technical positions.

Accommodation Suggestions

The frequencies for accommodation suggestions are listed in Table 4 by class and type of product. The 392 cases resulted in over 900 product or adaptation suggestions. Telephone and Amplification equipment were suggested in 33% of the cases. These options included TT/TDD equipment, meeting room amplification, and amplified telephone headsets. Visual and Tactile tactile /tac·tile/ (tak´til) pertaining to touch.

1. Perceptible to the sense of touch; tangible.

2. Used for feeling.

 Signal devices, including visual fire alarms and vibrating pagers, represented 30% of the options. The Communication method recommendations (17%) included use of interpreters during meetings and use of paper and pencil to write messages. Computers and computer modifications represented about 10% of the products suggested. These included the use of "real-time 1. real-time - Describes an application which requires a program to respond to stimuli within some small upper limit of response time (typically milli- or microseconds). Process control at a chemical plant is the classic example. " word processing word processing, use of a computer program or a dedicated hardware and software package to write, edit, format, and print a document. Text is most commonly entered using a keyboard similar to a typewriter's, although handwritten input (see pen-based computer) and  as a system of open captioning during large meetings, application of computer voice input devices, and PC projection equipment. Environmental changes [TABULAR DATA FOR TABLE 4 OMITTED] represented 7% of the total and included carpeting and sound-absorbing baffles which reduce environmental noise and allow a worker to use residual hearing more effectively. The Telephone and Amplification class, Signals class, Communication methods class, and Computer class of products could all be considered to be accommodations for deficits in communication. Together, these groups of products represent over 80% of the types of accommodations suggested.
Table 3

Career Progressions

Career Progression     Freq     %         Primary
                                          Type of
                                          Job (%)

Job Retention          133      34.1      Prof/Technical (26)

New Hire               116      29.7      Prof/Technical (26)

Improvement            108      27.7      Prof/Technical (24)

Training                17       4.4      Other/Unknown (59)

Advancement             10       2.6      Labor & Operative (30)(a)

Job Seeking              6       1.5      Clerical (33)

a The symbol & indicates that two primaries had the same percent.

In the remaining columns of Table 4, relationships of accommodation suggestions to (a) type of job and (b) essential function are listed. The relationship between accommodation suggestions and career progression is not included because the type of product suggested is unrelated to the career progression of the individual.

The primary (most frequent) type of job associated with each accommodation suggestion is detailed in Table 4. For example, 36% of the type of job frequencies for vibrating pager accommodation suggestion involved Labor jobs. As a second example, 67% of the job type frequencies for the radio headset accommodation suggestion involved Operative job cases.

The primary essential function associated with each accommodation suggestion is reported in Table 4. For example, 51% of the essential function frequencies for the meeting room amplifier suggestion involved Participate in Meetings. As a second example, 33% of the essential function frequencies for vibrating signal accommodation suggestions involved the Respond to Emergency function.

Summary of Results

Of the 11 types of jobs in the study, a quarter of the cases were for professional-technical jobs. The same essential function was often involved in several of the types of jobs. Communicate over the Phone and Communicate with Co-workers were the most frequent essential functions to be accommodated. The largest category of career progression was job retention (34%). A third of the accommodation suggestions were for amplification and telephone products. Relationships among these four variables were presented.


An evaluation of 392 cases from the Job Accommodation Network during the April 1992 to May 1993 time period was used to demonstrate the pattern of job accommodation needs for people who have hearing impairments. The impact of type of job, essential functions, career progressions, and accommodation suggestions was examined and described.

A surprising finding related to type of job was the percentage of higher-level jobs in the sample. The frequency counts for jobs revealed that more than half of the sample were employed in professional/technical, paraprofessional, managerial, and clerical job classes. Only 11% of the cases were employed in the service job class. The literature describes under-employment of those who have a hearing impairment as the norm with an over-representation in entry-level service jobs. These cases, however, reveal a different picture. The masons for this finding may include the self-selecting nature of the sample. Employers who expend ex·pend  
tr.v. ex·pend·ed, ex·pend·ing, ex·pends
1. To lay out; spend: expending tax revenues on government operations. See Synonyms at spend.

 the effort to contact the Job Accommodation Network to seek an accommodation solution (a) may be more aware that workers with hearing impairments can contribute in high-level jobs, (b) may be more willing to make the investment of time and effort demonstrated by the call in order to fill a high-level job, but not for a lower-level job, and/or (c) may be part of a trend toward a more inclusive employment environment. In addition, an exact diagnosis or measure of the hearing impairment was not obtained for these cases. It is possible that people with severe hearing impairments are under-represented in these 392 cases.

Related, but seemingly seem·ing  
Apparent; ostensible.

Outward appearance; semblance.

seeming·ly adv.
 inconsistent with the previous result, was the finding that there were few accommodation cases that were in the advancement category of career progression. Most of the cases were for improvement of the present work situation, retention of a worker in the current job setting, or accommodation of a new employee. Thus, from these data, it seems that promotion of current workers who have a heating impairment Impairment

1. A reduction in a company's stated capital.

2. The total capital that is less than the par value of the company's capital stock.

1. This is usually reduced because of poorly estimated losses or gains.

 is a rarity or that accommodation in cases of advancement is not necessary. It is unclear whether people with hearing impairments are facing the glass ceiling and are not in line for promotion or whether long-term Long-term

Three or more years. In the context of accounting, more than 1 year.


1. Of or relating to a gain or loss in the value of a security that has been held over a specific length of time. Compare short-term.
 employees already in a job progression have accommodation solutions in place. It is probable that an additional accommodation would not be needed to promote a worker whose job performance within that environment is satisfactory.

As would be expected, most of the functional difficulties were related to communication with co-workers and/or customers. Enhancing the volume and clarity of communication, whether face-to-face or via telephone calls, meetings, training sessions, or 2-way radio, were frequent problems to be resolved. Safety issues such as responding to emergency signals, approaching vehicles, and abnormal machine sounds were also high-frequency accommodation needs. It would follow, then, that the products most often suggested to resolve the needs expressed in these cases would also be related to communication and safety. This was the case. Accommodation solutions that directly address interpersonal communication Interpersonal communication is the process of sending and receiving information between two or more people. Types of Interpersonal Communication
This kind of communication is subdivided into dyadic communication, Public speaking, and small-group communication.
 and worker safety accounted for over 80% of the accommodation suggestions.

The 394 cases resulted in 984 accommodation suggestions. For example, a caller from a small dry-cleaning store wanted to hire a person with a severe hearing impairment. In this small shop, the worker's duties would have included both operating the dry-cleaning equipment and waiting on customers. The employer was concerned about the worker's safety in operating equipment, responding to the door buzzer from the back room, and communication with customers. In this case, accommodation suggestions might have included (a) the reality that there is no inherent danger to a person with a hearing impairment in operating such equipment, (b) a flashing light Flashing Light is a rhythmic light in which the total duration of the light in each period is clearly shorter than the total duration of the darkness and in which the flashes of light are all of equal duration.  to signal door entry, and (c) paper/pencil as necessary to communicate with the customer. Thus, two suggestions were made in this scenario. In addition, a list of descriptions of various visual signals and their manufacturers would have been sent to the caller.

Even within a fairly narrow disability category such as hearing impairment, the number of products and suggestions for employment accommodations is substantial in number. The specific needs of the worker coupled with the essential functions of the job help to define the specific product/solution combination that will allow the individual to enter or maintain productive employment in that particular job. Anecdotally, it is common for employers to request accommodation product information that will allow them to accommodate any person with a disability. That is, they seek to obtain all the items that will make their company accessible. This mythical myth·i·cal   also myth·ic
1. Of or existing in myth: the mythical unicorn.

2. Imaginary; fictitious.

 "accommodation closet" does not exist. It is a process of education for the employer to realize that there are thousands of types of products and even more manufacturers of such products and that accommodations must be carefully matched with the needs of the employee. Sensitive consultation between the employer and an accommodation expert is required to meet the needs of both the employer and employee.

Once the needs are identified, finding information on accommodation products can be tedious. Local information resources (1) The data and information assets of an organization, department or unit. See data administration.

(2) Another name for the Information Systems (IS) or Information Technology (IT) department. See IT.
 include the library, other consumers, and the network of human-service professionals. On a national scale, potential information resources include National Technical Institute for the Deaf's National Center on Employment, Research and Training Centers, Rehabilitation Engineering Rehabilitation engineering is the systematic application of engineering sciences to design, develop, adapt, test, evaluate, apply, and distribute technological solutions to problems confronted by individuals with disabilities.  Centers, ADA Regional Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers, the National Rehabilitation rehabilitation: see physical therapy.  Information Center, ABLEDATA, the Clearinghouse clearinghouse

Institution established by firms engaged in similar activities to enable them to offset transactions with one another in order to limit payment settlements to net balances.
 on Disability Information, Job Accommodation Network, and the Project Enable electronic bulletin board system. In addition, a variety of disability information is available through the Internet Internet

Publicly accessible computer network connecting many smaller networks from around the world. It grew out of a U.S. Defense Department program called ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), established in 1969 with connections between computers at the
 (e.g., web pages). During such explorations, it is essential to focus on the job function.

The frequencies for type of job by essential function and type of job by accommodation suggestion indicate that the essential functions and products were found across job types. Four of the types of jobs (professional/technical, clerical, paraprofessional, and sales) had communicate over the phone as a primary essential function. In fact, every type of job had some accommodation need concerning phone use. It was typical that each of the essential functions was associated with at least half of the job types. Concomitantly con·com·i·tant  
Occurring or existing concurrently; attendant. See Synonyms at contemporary.

One that occurs or exists concurrently with another.
, many products were associated with each essential function and, therefore, each type of job. There were clearer relationships among some of the jobs and functions, however. For example, half of the counts for respond to vehicles were from the labor job class, and half of the counts for respond to abnormal sounds were from the operative job class.

Taken together, the pattern of findings for this group of individuals with hearing impairments demonstrates employment in relatively high-level jobs for people who are either not in line for promotion or do not require additional accommodations as they move up the career ladder The Career ladder is a metaphor or buzzword used to denote vertical job promotion. In business and human resources management, the ladder typically describes the progression from entry level positions to higher levels of pay, skill, responsibility, or authority. . The job functions of concern were communication and safety, regardless of the job. That is, talking on the phone and responding to an emergency figured in most job classes. Of the 36 types of products, about a third were related to amplifying sound/speech, and a third concerned substituting a visual signal for an auditory one. The types of products/solution recommendations were more clearly tied to the essential function of the job than were category of job or career progression. Thus, the crucial aspect of making a worksite accommodation is to clearly and specifically identify the job function to be performed. The specific product/solution recommendation, then, follows from the needs the individual has to interface with the essential function of the job. This triad of essential function, accommodation suggestion, and product/solution is more powerful in the accommodation process than the type of job to be performed or the career progression of the worker.

Rehabilitation professionals continually con·tin·u·al  
1. Recurring regularly or frequently: the continual need to pay the mortgage.

 seek ways to assist their clients to succeed in the workplace. Rehabilitation workers and consumers who have a clear vision of the relationship between specific job duties and the products and procedures that can accommodate a worker in fulfilling those duties will likely have greater success in finding and maintaining employment. Additional research is needed to determine the long-term effectiveness and level of employer and employee satisfaction with job accommodations for people with disabilities, in general, and for those with hearing impairments, in particular.


This dissertation dis·ser·ta·tion  
A lengthy, formal treatise, especially one written by a candidate for the doctoral degree at a university; a thesis.


 was supported, in part, by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) is a United States governmental institution that provides leadership and support for a comprehensive program of research related to the rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities.  through the West Virginia West Virginia, E central state of the United States. It is bordered by Pennsylvania and Maryland (N), Virginia (E and S), and Kentucky and, across the Ohio R., Ohio (W). Facts and Figures

Area, 24,181 sq mi (62,629 sq km). Pop.
 Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (West Virginia University and West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services). Appreciation is expressed to Tim Crowe, Anne Hirsh, Anne Nardi, Rogers McAvoy, Kent Parker, Ranjit Majumder, and Lori Britton.


Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Public Law 101-336.

Danek, M., Seay, P. and Collier, M. (1989). Supported employment and deaf people This is an incomplete list of notable deaf people. Important historical figures in deaf history and culture
The idea that a person who was deaf could achieve a notable or distinguished status was not common until the latter half of the 18th century, when Abbé Charles-Michel de
: Current practices and emerging issues. Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling rehabilitation counseling,
n counseling started in the United States in 1920 to assist individuals disabled by industrial accidents; originally included physical, psychologic, and occupational training; expanded over the next 70 years and laid the
, 20, 34-39.

Hendricks, D.J., & Hirsh, A.E. (1991). The Job Accommodation Network: A vital resource for the 90's. Rehabilitation Education, 5, 261-264.

Job Accommodation Network. (1987). The President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities' Job Accommodation Network. Evaluation Report. West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV.

Job Accommodation Network. (1993). The President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities' Job Accommodation Network U.S. Quarterly Report (Second Quarter, 1992-93). West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV.

Leder, S., Spitzer, J, Richardson, F., and Murray, M. (1988). Sensory sensory /sen·so·ry/ (sen´sor-e) pertaining to sensation.

1. Of or relating to the senses or sensation.

 rehabilitation of the adventitiously deafened deaf·en  
v. deaf·ened, deaf·en·ing, deaf·ens
1. To make deaf, especially momentarily by a loud noise.

2. To make soundproof.

: Use of assistive communication and alerting devices. Volta Review, 90, 19-23.

Parent, W.S., & Everson, J.M. (1986). Competencies of Disabled Workers in Industry: A review of business literature. Journal of Rehabilitation, 52, 16-23.

Pati, G., & Morrison, G. (1982). Enabling the disabled. Harvard Business Review Harvard Business Review is a general management magazine published since 1922 by Harvard Business School Publishing, owned by the Harvard Business School. A monthly research-based magazine written for business practitioners, it claims a high ranking business readership and , 60, 152-168.

Schildroth, A., Rawlings, B., & Allen, T. (1991). Deaf students in transition: Education and employment issues for deaf adolescents. Volta Review, 5, 41-53.

Denetta L. Dowler, West Virginia University, PO Box 6122, Morgantown, West Virginia 26506-6122.
COPYRIGHT 1996 National Rehabilitation Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 Reader Opinion




Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Walls, Richard T.
Publication:The Journal of Rehabilitation
Date:Jul 1, 1996
Previous Article:Identifying the unmet independent living needs of persons with spinal cord injury.
Next Article:Work values and expectancies in occupational rehabilitation: the role of cognitive variables in the return-to-work process.

Related Articles
Meeting the Challenge - Hearing Impaired People in the Workplace.
ADA + ability + accommodations = access to employment.
ADA's concept of essential functions of a job.
Surviving with the ADA: hiring staff.
Trying to comply with the ADA.
VR and people who are hard of hearing: where do we go from here?
Has the ADA got your client covered?
Career Rehabilitation: Integration of Vocational Rehabilitation and Career Development in the Twenty-First Century.
Discerning characteristics and risk factors of people who are deaf and low functioning.
The importance of spreading the word about hearing loss.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters