How A Simple (And Often FREE) Accommodation Could Help You Be Successful at Work

Could a simple change or adjustment at work help you be more productive or successful on the job? If you have a disability, the answer may be yes, and you are likely entitled to a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

 

By: Miranda Harms

 

When I meet with a client, one of the first questions I ask them is whether they have a disability. They usually aren't sure how to answer that question; they often think that if they aren’t receiving SSI or SSDI benefits, they aren’t considered an individual with a disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a person with a disability as a person who has “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” Major life activities include, but are not limited to, things such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, performing manual tasks, caring for yourself, and operation of major bodily functions. Many of my clients who have disabilities aren't aware that they are entitled to reasonable accommodations at work or believe that it's too late to request one because they didn't disclose their disability when they were hired. This is a myth! You can request an accommodation at any time throughout your employment.

During employment, reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to how things are typically done that enables a person with a disability to perform the position's essential functions. To put it simply, a reasonable accommodation is a simple change that can help you to be successful on the job. Some examples of reasonable accommodations include

  • Flexible schedules
  • Changing job tasks
  • Reserved parking spaces
  • Improving accessibility at the job site
  • Working from home
  • Adjusted training materials
  • Reassigning the staff person to a vacant position
  • Ergonomic equipment
  • Accessible technology

A study done by The Job Accommodation Network showed that 58% of accommodations cost the employer absolutely nothing.

It should be noted that the accommodation must be reasonable; it cannot impose an undue hardship on the employer's business. You do not need to use any special language to request a reasonable accommodation from your employer. Still, you should let them know that you are requesting the accommodation due to a disability.

For further guidance, RochesterWorks! offers a Disability and Disclosure workshop on the second Thursday of each month that discusses reasonable accommodation, and The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is a great free resource that provides accommodation ideas, as well as guidance to employers and individuals with disabilities. Their website is askjan.org. To register for the Disability and Disclosure workshop, visit the workshop calendar. For more information on the Americans with Disabilities Act, see ada.gov/ or northeastada.org/

 

Miranda Harms Blog Bio 1

Supporting Businesses That Support Others: National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) Award Winners

Written by Guest Blogger, Jennifer Geiger, Business Relations Representative for ACCES-VR

October 8, 2020 

 

People have asked how I chose the career path of a Rehabilitation Counselor and wanting to advocate for people with disabilities. In my college years, I majored in Human Services; I saw and connected with the human in everyone. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities.

As the Business Relations Representative for the ACCES-VR District Office, I can honestly state I wake up loving my job every morning. I thoroughly enjoy working with people and aspire to provide opportunities to people to achieve their goals of obtaining employment. I have the opportunity to educate and provide information to the business community so they can see the value that people with disabilities bring to the workforce. We have a talent pool of candidates ready to utilize their skills and assist businesses with their hiring needs.

Each October, ACCES-VR has the opportunity to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and celebrate the work of all our partners, who join together to make the connection between businesses seeking qualified workers and workers who happen to be individuals with abilities. These celebrations recognize businesses investing in their local human resources and providing skilled workers with the opportunity to contribute to their communities, earn a living wage, and have meaningful careers.

Businesses are nominated for these awards by individuals in their community. Nominations are evaluated on various criteria, such as creating initiatives to identify and develop increased employment opportunities for qualified persons with disabilities or special measures to attract qualified employees with disabilities through creative and innovative outreach activities. 

In the Rochester/Finger Lakes region, we will recognize the following businesses as this year’s award recipients: Honeoye Public Library (Statewide award winner in the ‘Employer with 24 or Fewer Employees’ category), Charette Imaging, Avon Nursing Facility, Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester, Jamestown Container, Town of Irondequoit, and Home Depot.

In addition to these award-winners, the Rochester Area Employment Network (RAEN) has put together a NDEAM Vendor list to “support local businesses that support others.” This vendor list provides the names and contact information of restaurants and companies that have supported RAEN during National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) each year.

I hope every business can assess how they can Increase Access and Opportunity to people with disabilities.

 

Jennifer Geiger Blog Bio 1

7 Things You Should Know About Rochester’s Economic Recovery

By: Lee Koslow, Technical Assistance and Training Manager for RochesterWorks!

9/24/2020

 

On March 7, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order declaring a disaster emergency in the State of New York. The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic came quickly and forcefully. It has been an economic downturn like no other. Since June, I have been tracking the economic recovery in the Rochester area. Here are seven things that I have learned about where we've been and where we're headed.

Lee Koslow 1

1.    The worst is behind us.

In April, the Finger Lakes Region's (the nine counties surrounding and including Monroe County) unemployment rate peaked at 14.9%. During that month, the number of people with jobs dropped below 500,000 for the first time on record (we have data going back to 1990). Employment levels have been on the rebound since May. Will we see another sharp drop in employment numbers?

That is highly unlikely. Remember that shutdowns artificially created this recession in response to COVID-19. Since March, we have learned a lot about how the novel coronavirus is transmitted and how to safely go about our daily business. Even if there is a second wave of infections, businesses should not see a general shut down the way they did earlier this year.

2.    The best is behind us too (at least for now).

When will we see employment return to its pre-recession level? A straight-line projection from May forward places a full job recovery in the spring of 2021. However, the economy never moves in a straight line. There are sectors of the local economy that may never fully recover, and businesses that may never reopen. A complete recovery could take a couple more years.

3.    Some industries—and some jobs—are doing reasonably well.

A couple of industries, including general merchandise stores (think, Walmart) and (non-public) educational services, have gained a few jobs in the Rochester metro area year-over-year. Hospitals have broken even. Construction and professional, scientific, and technical services (including lawyers, accountants, engineers, advertising firms, and other professional services) have nearly recovered, with losses of just a few hundred year-over-year.

4.    Some industries—and some jobs—will struggle to recover for a long time.

The two industries that have lost the most jobs are food services and drinking places (-13,100 jobs) and local government, including public education (-11,400 jobs). Restaurants and bars will continue to struggle until social distancing measures have ended, and people feel safe going out in public. Local government has experienced mounting budget pressures for years and has now suffered from a sharp increase in expenses, along with declines in revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The local government sector’s recovery will likely lag far behind the general economic recovery.

5.    The economic downturn has been worse for some than for others.

The COVID-19 recession has disproportionately impacted lower-income workers, women, people of color, people with disabilities, and youth. Let's take a closer look at the industry sector with the most significant employment losses, food services, and drinking places.

Workers at restaurants and bars were paid low wages before the pandemic and were among the most likely to lose their jobs due to COVID-19. During the recovery, these jobs are high-risk, high-contact jobs. The top five occupations in the food services and drinking places industry account for 64.8% of industry employment.

  • Women are overrepresented in four of the top five occupations.
  • Black or African American workers are overrepresented in three of the top five occupations.
  • Hispanic or Latino workers are overrepresented in four of the top five occupations.
  • People with disabilities, who experienced earlier and more severe pandemic-related job losses than workers without disabilities, are overrepresented in the leisure and hospitality sector.
  • Younger workers are significantly overrepresented in food services and drinking places.

Lee Koslow 2

6.    COVID-19 has accelerated changes in the way we live and work.

People are shopping online more than ever before. Amazon’s stock price is up 40% over its pre-pandemic peak. Students are learning online. People are even socializing online. These trends began long before COVID-19, but the pandemic has caused them to accelerate considerably.

In March, when all non-essential businesses shut down, companies asked their employees to work from home if possible. Telework is not a new concept. However, many companies that resisted it before the pandemic have discovered that working from home is a viable option.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics measures the percentage of workers who can work from home within each industry. During the shutdowns, industry sectors with a greater ability to work from home, such as professional and business services and financial activities, experienced smaller job losses. And, as you might expect, industry sectors with a lesser ability to work from home, such as construction, wholesale and retail trade, and leisure and hospitality, experienced more significant job losses.

Having the ability to work from home does not necessarily mean that 1) an employer extends that opportunity to the worker or 2) the worker takes advantage of the opportunity. The data suggest an opportunity to mitigate the effects of pandemic-related shutdowns by increasing the percentage of workers who benefit from available work-from-home options. That percentage is referred to as the takeup rate.

Takeup rates (from national data) among the Rochester metro's largest industries vary from a low of 12.7% to a high of 40.8%. There is room for improvement in every sector.

Pre-COVID Takeup Rate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Employment data are for total nonfarm jobs.

7.    There is one crucial long-term trend that has not been changed by the pandemic.

Businesses have had and will continue to have difficulty finding skilled workers. Higher unemployment should mean fewer job openings, especially if mainly due to temporary layoffs or furloughs. That is the opposite of what has happened, and the increase in job openings at this time suggests that jobs are still challenging to fill. With a national unemployment rate of 10.2% in July, there were still 6.6 million open jobs on the last day of the month. Will there be more available workers in the Rochester area in the next ten years?

Baby Boomer Data

Unfortunately, no. As Baby Boomers continue to pass retirement age, we expect a 6% decrease in the Monroe County working-age population between 2020 and 2030. That means that 1) businesses will need to work with the available workforce to train them for good jobs, and 2) workers who are willing to learn new skills will have increased opportunities in the workforce. Investing in workers is the key to a better recovery and a healthy economy in the long term.

 

Lee Koslow Blog Bio

Increasing Access and Opportunity: Celebrating 30 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and 75 years of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)

This year is the nation's 75th observance of NDEAM, administered by DOL's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), which funds the Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE). The observance culminates in the Department's commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).


Despite the number of people with disabilities in the U.S. and the fact that they represent all races, classes, and cultures, many people are unaware of the disability movement's rich history. The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month traces back to 1945 when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year, "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.


Signed into law in July of 1990 by President George H. W. Bush, the ADA is "landmark civil rights legislation that works to increase access and opportunity for people with disabilities across society, including in the workplace." The legislation was modeled on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, making it "the most comprehensive disability rights legislation in history." ADA prohibits discrimination in job application procedures, hiring, advancement, termination, compensation, job training, and other employment areas.


Employers and employees in all industries can learn more about how to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month and ways to promote its messages — during October and throughout the year — by visiting www.dol.gov/NDEAM. In the end, the most critical way to advance the movement is to "just do it." Take action now to support the hiring, retention, and promotion of employees with disabilities. Visit WhatCanYouDo.org's WHERE TO LEARN MORE section for links to valuable tools and resources designed for employers, people with disabilities, family members, and educators.


"Ensuring that America's workplaces continue to include and accommodate people with disabilities will be an important part of our economic rebound," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. "Looking ahead, the Department will remain focused on the policies that led to a strong economy and record-low unemployment rates for persons with disabilities before the pandemic. A vigorous economic rebound and job growth will, alongside the Americans with Disabilities Act, increase access and opportunity for Americans with disabilities."


Throughout October, RochesterWorks! will be showing our support for NDEAM, CDE, and ADA on our blog, in our newsletters, and on our social media pages. We'll be sharing PSA's produced by the CDE (and their video contest winners – one entry even features a Rochester local!), resources to help businesses and employers, blog posts on a variety of Disability Employment related topics, and more

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What happens when you combine job seeker dedication, staff vision and ingenuity, and grit?

Presented by RochesterWorks! Guest Blogger, Barbara Wilcox

September 10, 2020

 

Unprecedented virtual workshop success during an unprecedented time.

COVID hit, and within days, RochesterWorks! management and staff launched itself into the E-Learning sphere. Many thanks to the innovators and do-ers who made this possible. (Here’s looking at you, Shawn, Rosa, Danielle, and All!)

 These developments set the stage for our 5 Steps to Rapid Employment program going virtual.

For 8 years, RochesterWorks! has hosted this blended learning 5-day, 20-hour, intensive workshop. Never, even in 80 years, could we have imagined making the experiential (in-class) learning online; after all, participants already do 2-4 hours of online work each night. Yet during a global pandemic, with much of the staff working remote, the 5 Steps Team – Rosa Smith-Montanaro, Master Instructor; Barbara Wilcox, Program Coordinator, Instructor and Coach; and 2 first-time Instructors, Ashley Mault and Sean Clancy; along with managers, Paula Roth and Viatta Tolbert-Carter – made this happen.  

Additionally, for the first time in several years, 5 Steps integrated seven Guest Coaches (the rest of our 5 Steps Coaches) into the mix. They did great! By introducing themselves, sharing expert Career Coaching insights, and being authentic, positive pillars of support, a truly close-knit and savvy online community formed.

Hear what a professional in Higher Ed Administration and graduate of the August 2020 5 Steps, aka COVID Cohort Champions, has to say, “It has been such a pleasure and an honor to meet everybody here. I have grown personally and professionally. I have a new direction on where I want to go and a better understanding of what I need to focus on for my job campaign. […] I am really excited and anticipating a lot of good things to come from this for everybody.” 

Thank you to all, including our 5 Steps Grads, who exhibited paramount resilience and leadership in an unprecedented time of uncertainty. Your future employers and colleagues are beyond fortunate to work with you. A STAR Story for all!

Interested in seeing what this Professional and Personal Development is all about? Watch our E-Learning Info Session! This makes you eligible to apply..

Barbara Wilcox Bio

 

 

Only RochesterWorks! provides a unique set of customized services to businesses and job seekers at little-to-no cost, preparing a skilled workforce and connecting them with opportunities in our region.

 

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