Past Projects & Proposals

Universal Design Practices to Enhance Work Outcomes: A Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project (DRRP)

Principal Investigator: Jon Sanford

Co-Principal Investigator: Karen Milchus

Current workplace accommodation practices focus on making job tasks accessible, but pay less attention to how the employee is able to interact with coworkers. The goal of this project is to determine the effect that universal design (UD) has on workplace participation for employees with disabilities. To accomplish this goal, CATEA (Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access) is developing separate measures for workplace participation and for the presence of UD elements. This later tool is unique in that it covers both the physical environment (e.g., is there an automatic door) and social environments (e.g., do coworkers prop open the door). Data will be collected from employers and employees, and the investigators will identify UD accommodation practices that are associated with positive work outcomes. 

View project details here

The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Workplace Accommodations (Work RERC)

Principal Investigators: Jon Sanford and Karen Milchus

The goal of Work RERC was to identify, develop, and promote new assistive and universally designed technologies that maximize the independence and participation of people with disabilities in the workplace. A primary focus of the Workplace RERC was the use of universal design concepts -- the design of products and environments to be usable by all workers, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. Work RERC projects included:


  • User Needs

    This project investigated what accommodations work best for whom, in what situations, through a series of studies with CATEA's Consumer Network.


  • Longitudinal Study of Cost and Cost-Benefits of Workplace Accommodation

    The Burton Blatt Institute and Work RERC collaborated to identify the changing needs for and costs/benefits of accommodating workers over time.


  • Successful Aging in the Workplace

    This project studied how older adults with disabilities overcome age-related difficulties with computer work tasks.


  • Impact of Policy on Access to and Utilization of Workplace Accommodations

    This project investigated various workplace policy issues, including telework as an accommodation vs. accommodations for teleworking, the impact of aging with a disability in the workplace, and with the Wireless RERC, review emergency preparedness policies/practices to develop accommodation models for workers with disabilities.


  • Effects of Accommodations on Participation of Employees with Disabilities

    With the Mobility RERC, this project examined the effect of accommodations on participation of people with mobility disabilities in the workplace.


  • Workplace Accommodation Wizard

    This prototype online assessment tool interfaces with and helps employers identify worker needs and possible solutions.


  • Universal Design in the Workplace

    Several projects focused on using universal design principles to redesign workstations for various professions to make them accessible to a wider range of potential employees. These projects include Supine Computer Workstation; CNC (Computer Numeric Controlled) Manufacturing Accommodations; Retail Checkstand.


  • AudioMORPH

    This project developed a prototype system that automates the process of creating and customizing auditory interfaces for business applications to make them accessible to people with visual impairments.


  • CAPS: Context Aware Prompting System for Persons with Cognitive Disabilities

    In partnership with the RERC on Advancement of Cognitive Technologies, this project identified needs of employees with developmental disabilities working in manufacturing/distribution jobs, developed memory aids ranging from low-tech reminders to context-aware systems, and conducted trials to evaluate device efficacy.


  • AwareComm: Context Aware Communication for the Workplace

    This project developed context-specific vocabulary and a prototype context aware AAC device for the workplace.


  • Work Accommodations for STEM Educators

    Principal Investigator: Karen Milchus

    This project used an online survey and focus groups to learn about the work experiences and accommodations used by STEM educators with disabilities. Resource modules were developed to help educators with the accommodation process and determining accommodation options.