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Workshop on Duty to Accommodate Policy

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Section 5: Case Study

In this section we:

  • practice applying what we've learned on a "life-like" scenario.

I. Process

We will work in the same small teams of 6-8 people that we have been working with in previous exercises.

After reading the assigned case study, small groups will discuss the case. The purpose of the discussion in the small groups is to outline the first few steps you would take to address this situation, if you were faced with it. The plan may need to take into account the different needs of:

  • the person needing accommodation;
  • the manager;
  • the co-workers who will be affected by changes;
  • the union;
  • the human resource or other experts that may be involved.

Also think about who you would involve at each step, and what key things you'd to pay the most attention to in this scenario.

After 20 minutes of small group work, we'll ask one of your group to report briefly on the conclusions of your discussion and what led you to these conclusions.

Reports must be limited to a maximum of 2 minutes.

Case Study #1: For General Audiences: Peter

Your Accommodation Advisory Team has been asked to give direction to the manager in this scenario.

In the last two years there have been many changes in the work unit. The Directorate has been restructured and this has changed the job functions from pre-planned "in person" meetings and written communications with colleagues and clients to a reliance on telephone and verbal communications. There have been three managers in the last two years, the newest manager arriving four months ago and having a clear priority of productivity. Due to the rapid changes going on, the newest manager relies on quick staff meetings to discuss the immediate priorities and work assignments.

One of the employees, Peter, is very intelligent and creative and has been part of the unit for 10 years. Peter has a learning disability that causes him difficulty in processing what he hears. He cannot understand and remember lengthy or complex verbal instructions. Peter has never disclosed his disability or unique needs, fearing that he would be treated differently and may have fewer opportunities if the managers and co-workers knew. Instead, he has found ways of compensating for his disability, such as being very attentive to non-verbal signals and ensuring written follow-ups on all interactions. His performance has been good until just recently. Lately Peter is not completing his assignments, as if he does not understand what decisions were discussed and agreed upon and what his responsibilities are.

This has caused some problems. He has given out confusing and conflicting information to the clients, resulting in client calls to the manager and other employees for clarification. Peter isn't getting his projects done on time, and co-workers who are relying on Peter's work to be done before they can complete their own, are getting behind. As well, his productivity has gone down, causing the manager to ask other employees to help out on Peter's workload to keep up the unit productivity, even if it means overtime.

Peter's co-workers didn't seem to mind helping out for a while, but it has persisted for almost three months and a few are beginning to talk about unfair workloads and that "not everyone is pulling their weight". One employee even complained to the manager, and when nothing changed, he brought up the issue of workloads to their union rep.

Team instructions are on the previous page in your Manual.

Case Study #2: For HR Audiences: Selection Process

Due to imminent retirements in the management level of your Department, the Director is planning for a large closed competition to identify suitable candidates for the management positions amongst current federal employees in your Region. She has asked your team to assist the Selection Committee by giving advice to ensure that all candidates who need accommodation for disabilities are accommodated throughout the process.

  • What must the Selection Committee do or not do to meet the new policy requirements on accommodation?
  • What are the areas or steps in the process that need the most attention?

Optional (time permitting):

  • What gets overlooked most easily or is most likely to occur as a surprise?
  • What signals will tell you the surprise is happening? How might these be handled?
  • Who else needs to be involved to make this work well, and when and how would you involve them?

Manager's Handbook CHAPTER FIVE: EMPLOYMENT EQUITY; and the Personnel Psychology Centre (PPC) of the PSC "Guidelines for Assessing Persons with Disabilities," for details and additional ideas on the accommodation process www.psc-cfp.gc.ca/ppc/disability/chap_1_e.htm

Also see CHRC Publications, A Place For All - A Guide to Creating an Inclusive Workplace; and A Guide to Screening and Selection in Employment www.chrc-ccdp.ca/discrimination/place_for_all-en.asp

Case Study #3: For IT Audiences: Adaptive Technologies

The Deputy Head is planning to upgrade the IT system in order to support modernization of government initiatives.

Your team has been assembled to ensure that all technology and services purchased by the organization are accessible to people with visual impairments, or can be made accessible through the use of some adaptive technology within reasonable expense.

  • What criteria, requirements or prerequisites need to be added to contracting documents to ensure that the purchases will be maximally accessible?
  • What questions need to be asked of a supplier to ensure the mainstream products you are buying off the shelf will be useable by employees with disabilities?
  • What steps in the systems development and testing process need particular attention?
  • Who needs to be involved in this process, and how and when would you involve them?

For more information, see web sites for Assistive Devices Industry Office, Industry Canada www.at-links.gc.ca/as/ ;

Environment Canada Adaptive Computer Technology (ACT) Centre www.ec.gc.ca/act-tia/;

The Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work www.workink.com ; and The Job Accommodation Service 1-800-664-0925. Email: jasinfo@ccrw.org

Case Study #4: For Materiel Management Audiences:

You are an advisory team to your Director on Workplace Accommodation.

An employee in the Directorate, Deborah, has had a recent injury. This has resulted in a physical disability that now causes her to use a wheelchair for mobility. Her work requires frequent photocopying of documents, usually ranging between 3-25 pages.

The photocopier for the office is kept in a small room at the other end of the office from Deborah's desk. The room is not accessible to a wheelchair. It is frequently used by all employees.

How would you go about assessing the workplace environment in this situation?

What key questions do you need answers to?

Who would you involve, and when, and how?

What would determine if this accommodation is for Deborah alone or one that would be for the entire unit?

For more information, see web sites for Assistive Devices Industry Office, Industry Canada www.at-links.gc.ca/as/   ;

The Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work www.workink.com ; and

The Job Accommodation Service 1-800-664-0925. Email: jasinfo@ccrw.orgAlso see Adaptive Environments (USA) www.adaptenv.org/

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