This project aims to develop strategies that will help workers advocate for their right to reasonable accommodations under the ADA and that will act as catalysts for enhanced employee self-advocacy. This project aims to create a decision support tool to address accommodations for people with disability due to chronic pain and progressive conditions. This project will also include information on changing accommodations for people who have had success, or not, in retaining their job after return-to-work interventions.
Federal agencies and nonprofit organizations provide information about the reasonable accommodation process in the form of fact sheets and websites, but no resources exist to guide individuals making decisions within the unique context of their lives and employment. Experience within the ADA National Network reveals that people with disabilities may understand the law but struggle to apply it to their situation.
In this study, we propose to develop decision support aids that will guide people with physical disabilities through a set of decision points to reach a conclusion about whether and how to make a reasonable accommodation request and to guide them on decisions about what accommodation would be most appropriate. Decision support aids are tools that guide individuals through a set of options, provide information about pros and cons of each option, elicit preferences, support deliberation, and facilitate a decision. They are one mechanism to guide individuals through complicated choices and are intended to help them make value-based tradeoffs between the benefits and harms of a decision. There is good evidence that people who use decision aids improve their knowledge of options, are better informed, and have more clarity about their values.
This study focuses on (1) understanding the kinds of decision support valued by people with disabilities to make a reasonable accommodation request and (2) developing decision aids that meet those needs. After creating the aids, we will test them to ensure they are useful, understandable, accessible, and feasible to implement. Initial testing of the decision aids will be paper-based; we will then create a web-based version for easy access and broad dissemination. We will work with people with disabilities and other individuals involved in decision making, such as family, friends, and vocational rehabilitation counselors to support independent and shared decision making. We will address important considerations including cultural diversity, resource-limited environments, cognitive accessibility, and affective aspects of decision-making. Our long-term goal is to enhance confidence in people with disabilities for making requests for reasonable accommodation and improve their success in obtaining accommodations, to maintain employment and economic self-sufficiency.
Aim 1: Learn about the kinds of decision support valued by people with disabilities when making a reasonable accommodation request.
Aim 2: Develop decision aids that meet those needs.
Aim 3: Test the decision aids to ensure they are useful, understandable, accessible, and feasible to implement and that they address important considerations including cultural diversity, resource-limited environments, cognitive accessibility, and affective aspects of decision-making.
Allen Heinemann, PhDDirector, Center for Rehabilitation Outcomes Research Professor, Department of PM&R, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern
The project is part four of a four part Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTC) grant sponsored by NIDILRR. The project director is Dr. Allen Heinmann who will be collaborating with Dr. Mark Harniss, principal investigator of this project.