Assistive Technology and Employment

Assistive Technology at Work

Assistive technology can help people with disabilities get, keep, and advance in employment. Assistive technology (AT) encompasses devices that increase function, independence, participation, and productivity for people with disabilities, as well as the services needed for using these devices. AT can range from easy-to-obtain and inexpensive products like electric staplers to sophisticated, specialized adaptations for computer access. There are many AT solutions that can assist in a variety of occupations and workplaces!

Free trainings from Pennsylvania's Initiative on Assistive Technology (PIAT) about the scope and benefits of assistive technology as workplace accommodations are available for human resources professionals, small business owners, industries, business organizations, and other employers throughout Pennsylvania. The duration and content of the training can be customized for the employer's needs, and trainings can be held at the employer's location. These activities are supported in part by the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center,

News Articles about Assistive Technology and Employment

"Apple iPad Helps Businesses Meet Needs of Disabled Employees." (PC World)

"Simple Accommodations to Help Your Autistic Employee Excel"

Information Especially for Employers

Job Accommodation Network Releases Publication on Monitoring Reasonable Accommodations, a new document in its Accommodation & Compliance Series. Accommodations can stop being effective for various reasons, such as: the employee's limitations change, workplace equipment changes, the job changes, the workplace itself changes, or the accommodation becomes an undue hardship for the employer to continue to provide. This publication offers tips for employers to follow. A sample form for monitoring accommodations is included.

The Assistive Technology (AT) for Employer and Business Web Portal [link no longer available] is produced by the RESNA Catalyst Project and AT Connects and provides AT specific resources for businesses, employers, and those who assist people with disabilities with employment. Free webinar tours for your staff or network are available.

Specifically, the AT for Employer/Business Web Portal features information on AT solutions in the workplace, finding help to access AT through state based AT Act programs and projects, a consultant data base directory of RESNA Employment Professionals, publications on AT and Employment, and numerous other resources for employers to explore.

The Portal is housed on AT Connects, which is operated by the University of New Hampshire's Institute on Disability.

"Blueprint for Governors" - published as the culmination of the National Governors Association Chair's Initiative, "A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities" - August 2, 2013. This blueprint focuses on the employment of people with disabilities and the role of states in assisting businesses.

The blueprint is organized into five topic areas and presents examples of actions governors can take in each area: 1) Make disability employment part of the state workforce development strategy; 2) Find and support businesses in their efforts to employ people with disabilities; 3) Be a model employer by increasing the number of people with disabilities working in state government; 4) Prepare youth with disabilities for careers that use their full potential, providing employers with a pipeline of skilled workers; 5) Make the best use of limited resources to advance employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Questions & Answers about Persons with Intellectual Disabilities in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) - Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers employment by private employers with 15 or more employees as well as state and local government employers. Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act provides similar protections related to federal employment. In addition, most states have their own laws prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of disability. Some of these state laws may apply to smaller employers and may provide protections in addition to those available under the ADA. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the employment provisions of the ADA. This document, which is one of a series of question-and-answer documents addressing particular disabilities in the workplace, explains how the ADA applies to job applicants and employees with intellectual disabilities.

Workplace Flexibility Toolkit - The Office of Disability Employment Programs (ODEP) at the US Department of Labor has developed this unique Workplace Flexibility Toolkit to provide useful valuable information to employees, employers, policymakers, and researchers related to time and place, but also around task, a unique workplace flexibility strategy related to ODEP's Customized Employment research-based data. The Toolkit provides case studies, fact and tip sheets, issue briefs, reports, articles, websites, other toolkits, and frequently-asked questions.

Disability Awareness: Increasing Employers Understanding of the ADA, Accommodations & Other Supports in the Workplace - - This self-paced seminar covers disability awareness for HR professionals. Learn about stereotypes and misconceptions about people with disabilities; changing attitudes and behaviors that prevent growth of a company or organization; and developing skills that will help staff effectively communicate and work with people with disabilities.

Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Services for Employers, Business, and Industry -

U.S. Department of Labor, Office on Disability Employment Policy (ODEP): Making Workplace Accommodations: Reasonable Costs, Big Benefits (PDF)


Webinar: Smart Technology in the Workplace - a Reasonable Accommodation - This archived webinar was funded in part by a grant provided by the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center and Pennsylvania's Initiative on Assistive Technology (PIAT), a program of the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, College of Education. The webinar provides an overview of smart technologies as a reasonable accommodation in the workplace. The webinar identifies built-in accessibility features on Android and iOS devices, apps to assist with organization, and what factors to consider when selecting an apps to assist with overcoming barriers in the workplace.

Assistive Technology in the Workplace training module - (webcast with audio and captions - 20 minutes). The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) has released its fourth Just-in-Time training module, which explores assistive technology in the workplace. Assistive technology enables individuals with disabilities to access devices, equipment, and services so that they can perform job tasks and maintain employment.

Employers and employees with disabilities can greatly benefit from exploring the use of assistive technology as an accommodation in the workplace. This 21-minute introductory training module and accompanying transcript will cover the basics of assistive technology, alternative input, products, and resources available for use in the workplace. This module can be used to train new accommodation specialists, disability managers, and others responsible for making accommodation decisions.

Webcast on Employment and Augmentative Communication
"Success stories are used to illustrate evidence-based practices for supporting employment for individuals who use AAC, and to demonstrate that participation in the workforce is an achieveable goal for individuals with complex communication needs."

The Changing Face of Technology: Document Imaging Meets the Challenge
Transcript is also available.

Guides to Assistive Technology and Employment

The revised Employment Resources and Self-Help Guide for Individuals with Disabilities has just been rereleased by FAAST, Inc. with updated hyperlinks and additional information and assistance resources, informative tutorials, frequently asked questions (FAQs), helpful websites, factsheets, resource guides, and many other current relevant resources for individuals with disabilities transitioning from school to work and seeking employment. The Employment Guide also offers a comprehensive information and assistance resource section for employers of individuals with disabilities.

Related Publications

National Council on Disability Releases Report on Impact of Technology on Employment for People with Disabilities - The National Council on Disability released this report earlier in October that examines the importance of social media and other information technologies in connecting people to job opportunities. Digital barriers to our nation's networked economy can reinforce rather than break down disproportionately low employment among people with disabilities. The recommendations contained in this report are designed to open the doors to digital technologies that can lead to better jobs for more people with disabilities.

The Aging Workforce: The Role of Medical Professionals in Helping Older Workers and Workers with Disabilities to Stay at Work or Return to Work and Remain Employed (PDF) - The Department of Labor has released a brief on the role of medical professionals in helping older workers and workers with disabilities retain employment and return to work. Due to the low employment rates for these individuals and growth in Social Security Disability Insurance caseloads there has been an increasing need to create new policies to provide supports encouraging the employment of these workers. The brief highlights several strategies and recommendations to address these issues.

Other Links provides information, resources and research about work and disability issues; this link is a compilation of resources regarding AT and employment.

From Disabled World: "iPod Touch Helps Adults with Autism in the Workplace"
Citation: Disabled World News (2012-09-03) - iPod Touch - A portable media player, personal digital assistant, handheld game console, and Wi-Fi mobile device designed and marketed by Apple Inc.:

America's Heroes at Work A U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) project that focuses on the employment challenges of returning service members living with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and/or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

On Wednesday, March 2, 2011 the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) held a full committee hearing titled, "Improving Employment Outcomes for People with Disabilities."
Opening Statements and Discussion - Chairman Tom Harkin opened the widely attended hearing emphasizing the purpose of the hearing was to identify ways to increase the employment rate for people with disabilities. The hearing focused in large part on people with intellectual disabilities, 76 percent of which are not employed. Employment leads to a number of benefits, Harkin noted, including better self esteem and social opportunity but also income to support independence. Having a job reduces the percentage of those with disabilities living in poverty and leads to a longer, healthier life and "contributes to society in a fiscal way" not just an altruistic one. Harkin stated that key groups representing people with disabilities have joined the Alliance for Full Participation and they have set a goal of doubling the employment rate for people with disabilities by 2015. Harkin stated his intention is to "increase the employment rate, increase the poverty rate, and the quality of life for persons with disabilities." More information on this hearing, including testimony and a webcast of the session, is available at:


For more information contact:

Voice: 800-204-7428 (in-state), or 215-204-3862

TTY: 866-268-0579 (in-state)

Voice: 215-204-1356

TTY: 215-204-1805

Fax: 215-204-9371


Institute on Disabilities at Temple University
University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service