There is no one-size-fits-all accommodation solution for teachers with disabilities. Workplace accommodations must be determined on a case-by-case basis to fit the unique needs of the individual. It is necessary to look at the person-environment fit -- considering the abilities of the teacher, the essential tasks that must be completed, and the environment in which that work will be done. The goal of a workplace assessment is to identify gaps and propose possible solutions in an organized manner.
There is a proliferation of assessment instruments that may be used to help with an assessment, however there is no one instrument that will fit all situations. Many of these tools focus on particular issues (e.g., just computer access; just those issues covered by a particular funding agency) and they may be biased based on the discipline of the individuals or organizations that develop them.
Instead, in this document we will discuss the general issues that must be considered. Workplace assessments may be performed by school personnel, or in more complex cases, external consultants may be used. We have provided information about service providers who conduct workplace assessments in the Resource section.
The first step involves collecting information about the functional limitations of the teacher. This information will be used to help determine where problems may be encountered with the performance of job tasks and what types of solutions might be appropriate.
Functional limitations may include (Source - Workplace Workbook):
The next step involves developing a detailed description of the job. Lists of the jobs tasks are compiled, and the tasks which are essential to the job are identified.
Information about the job tasks may be collected through copies of the job description, interviews with the employer and employee, or observations of an employee performing the job. The teacher may be asked to describe what he or she does during a typical day, talk about how certain tasks are performed, and identify tasks that are problematic. He or she may be asked subjective questions about preferences, accommodation priorities, and perceptions of the situation. The employer or supervisor will be asked to provide information about expectations, and school policies and procedures. The employer may also be asked to provide additional information about any required activities that do not occur on a daily basis (e.g., supervising the administration of exams).
Task analysis is then performed to help identify which tasks cannot be performed and why. Task analysis is the identification of the small, sequential or non-sequential steps needed to perform a task. Particular attention is paid to the physical, sensory, and cognitive requirements for completing the task. By knowing the specific challenges that an individual has with a task, potential interventions to allow task performance can begin to be identified.
Task Analysis Example: Solving a math problem on a white board.
In this example, a teacher who uses a wheelchair may have difficulty moving up to and reaching the board, but may not have any trouble manipulating the marker and performing the calculations. In contrast, a teacher with low vision may have trouble reading lecture notes and checking the calculations. The task analysis can help identify which part of the tasks need to be accommodated and how (e.g., lowering the board; using large print lecture notes).
Finally, information is collected about the environment in which the work is being performed. This includes information about the general accessibility of the school and classroom and specific information about the environment in which the work is being performed.
Information about the work environment may once again be collected through interviews and observations. Direct environmental measures are also made. This may include architectural factors such as slope angle of a ramp or width of a doorway, but may also include other factors such as lighting, noise levels, temperature, or air quality. Photographs or videos may be used to document the work setting.
Some people use the DOJ Checklist for Existing Facilities (http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/checkweb.htm) as an aid for collecting information about the work environment. However, users must keep in mind that it is just an aid and it may not include all of the elements that need to be considered for a particular job (e.g., access to fume hood).
Issues may include (but are not limited to):
This resource was funded by:
in collaboration with: