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The Texas rehabilitation response to ADA.

The Texas Rehabilitation Commission (TRC) has created the ADA-Texas Team to provide what we believe to be the most efficient approach to training employers about ADA. We have targeted training of more than 500 employers and TRC counselors and employers throughout the state to become trainers and, in turn, train others.

This pyramid concept in training allows ADA-Texas to explode into a variety of markets with quality, proactive information. The focus of the training is negotiation versus litigation--the attitude, we feel, exemplifies the spirit of ADA. Furthermore, this training combats a barrage of information from the legal profession geared to train business and industry on how to dodge ADA by looking at grey areas and loopholes.

This approach is already proving its mettle. With the first anniversary of ADA, the ADA-Texas Team will celebrate the training of more than 270 trainers in Texas organizations and companies. As a result of training, employers have begun the ADA implementation process of reviewing polices and procedures, sanitizing job applications and the like.

The ADA-Texas mission is to provide ADA training, technical assistance, information, and resource coordination. The team consists of four full-time TRC staff volunteers who are on loan from their regular TRC duties. The ADA-Texas Team members are Tom Word, Human Resources Development; Ron Trull, Programs; Vernon Dement, Public Information Office; and Cindy Counts, Texas Governor's Committee for Disabled Persons.

Providing quality training modules gives the ADA-Texas Team the chance to meet a major portion of their goals, but other areas also deserve attention. Team members have developed an information packet that includes the history of disability legislation leading to the passage of ADA, details on ADA titles and statutory deadlines, plus a listing of employer incentives for hiring people with disabilities. The office has a toll-free telephone number and has received hundreds of requests from around the state for information and technical assistance.

In the area of technical assistance, the ADA-Texas Team has offered expertise in reasonable accommodations, site surveys and policies and practices for specific ADA compliance. The team coordinated mailing of proposed regulations to targeted organizations throughout the state to act as a conduit for the Texas response to regulation proposals.

ADA-Texas worked with Milt Wright and Associates, a well-known disability consulting group, to develop a quality training package aimed at TRC employees, employers, consumers, and other rehabilitation professionals. Milt Wright and Associates holds an exceptional national track record in attitudinal training with employers about disability issues. The ADA-Texas Team believes that the kind of ADA training that will lead to successful implementation must be based on changing detrimental attitudes toward people with disabilities. Attitudes cannot be legislated.

ADA-Texas training consists of the following eight modules:

* Module 1--ADA Executive Briefing (30-60 minutes). This overview summarizes ADA's impact and includes a history and introduction to the legal issues surrounding the law. The presentation will look at attitudes and fears (legal and financial) and the goods news (opportunity).

* Module 2--Employment Issues (3-4 hours). This core module covers employment issues: an overview of the employment process, pre-employment screening, the interview, reasonable accommodation, and recruiting.

* Module 3--Reasonable Accommodation (2-4 hours). The attitudes and technical aspects of reasonable accommodation are furnished in this module.

* Module 4--Understanding the Law (3-4 hours). This module provides an introduction to the law using hypothetical case studies in group discussions. It takes a close look at the legal issues involved in pre-employment screening, testing, interviewing, and reasonable accommodation.

* Module 5--Practical Steps for ADA Implementation (60-90 minutes). This overview details 10 steps to implementing ADA, including training interviewers, reviewing application forms, eliminating medical judgments, revising and developing job descriptions, and training supervisors.

* Module 6--Attitudes Towards People with Disabilities (2-4 hours). This module focuses on changing attitudes toward people with disabilities--a critical element in implementing ADA.

* Module 7--Workers' Compensation (2-3 hours). ADA's impact on Workers' Compensation issues like disability intervention and the process for handling injured workers are directly addressed. Ten steps to reduce Workers' Compensation costs are also provided.

* Module 8--Essential Job Functions (30-60 minutes). In this module, trainees receive a tool to initiate in-house job evaluations that identify essential job functions. Discussion centers on the importance of identifying essential job functions consistent with ADA.

ADA training is for TRC employees first, but members of the business community, consumers, trade associations, state agencies, as well as consumers can take advantage of this resource. The team found that a mixed training audience of employers, consumers and rehabilitation professionals fostered a valuable learning experience. Employers had the opportunity to hear the issues and concerns of people with disabilities, while consumers gained a greater appreciation of the bottom line.

As a result of the unique perspective provided by consumers participating in the training, the modules have been reshaped to include information on people with psychiatric disabilities. Consumer involvement also sparked the need for the creation of a powerful consumer module. This new module will target the training of rehabilitation professionals in methods of counseling their clients in positive self-advocacy approaches.

Along with reaching out to the community with ADA training and information, ADA-Texas will also focus on the Commission's policies, procedures and service delivery system. The Commission is currently reviewing hiring procedures and has created several training positions to provide employment to TRC clients.

Continuing long-range efforts include a public awareness campaign to help shape attitudes about people with disabilities as the law goes into effect. In addition, as final regulations are published, updated information will need to be shared with trainers. The team also plans to increase emphasis on technical assistance to organizations and companies covered by ADA.

We are pleased with the way ADA-Texas has targeted its goals and is moving quickly to achieve them. Above all, we want out efforts in promoting ADA to reflect and promote confidence in people with disabilities. If we were to begin this program anew, we would utilize permanent staff members instead of volunteers, plus devote greater in-house resources to handle telephone calls and training. But the team offers no excuses for their performance and stands proudly behind the work they have done.

We, along with some concerned Texas employers, are taking advantage of this opportunity to refocus our policies and procedures. We believe in ADA and what it can do for people with disabilities. Thus, we are doing our part to prepare an environment where people with disabilities have the same opportunities and access to society as everyone else.

For further information about this model program and for quick access to the latest ADA information in Texas call the ADA-Texas toll-free number: 1-800-442-9502. The number is open during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

John Fenoglio is Deputy Commissioner for Special Operations, Texas Rehabilitation Commission.
COPYRIGHT 1990 U.S. Rehabilitation Services Administration
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Title Annotation:Texas Rehabilitation Commission; Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
Author:Fenoglio, John
Publication:American Rehabilitation
Date:Dec 22, 1990
Previous Article:Competitive employment strategies in the era of ADA.
Next Article:What ADA has meant and what it can mean for people with mental retardation.

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