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Telling You All about It: Deaf or Hard of Hearing

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  • A carpentry supervisor who had no functional hearing was required as part of his job to order supplies from various vendors throughout the area. A text telephone was used in conjunction with the relay service to allow this job function to take place.

  • A field geologist who works alone in remote areas needed to be able to report findings to the office. Two way radio communications was not feasible due to hearing loss. Text telephone technology was used to allow the field geologist to communicate with the main office via a cellular telephone.

  • A hard of hearing employee was required to participate in meetings with a number of coworkers. One microphone was not providing adequate amplification of all the participants' voices. It was recommended that microphones be placed in front of all participants or within three to four feet of each person and a mixer could be used to transmit the signals to one receiver. These microphones can be voice activated or self adjusting to increase volume and quality of sound while decreasing background noise.

  • A top executive at a large U.S. company was required to participate frequently in meetings. The individual unexpectedly lost his hearing and needed a new way to be involved in the discussions. The company hired a court stenographer and purchased real time captioning equipment to utilize stenographic captioning for the meetings.

  • An essential function of the job of a postal employee was to monitor the performance of a sorting apparatus. The machine made a clicking sound when it was operating correctly. The machine was modified so that a light flashed to alert the worker if the machine failed to click as a piece of mail went through. The manufacturer of the metering machine used their design engineering group to adapt the equipment.

  • A meter reader needed to be alerted to barking dogs. A device that vibrates in response to noise was purchased.
Accommodation Ideas for Persons with Epilepsy

The following are types of accommodations that might be appropriate for someone with epilepsy. As always, each situation needs to be considered on a case by case basis.
  • Provide extra time to take an examination.

  • Provide restructuring, such as redistributing a "nonessential or marginal" job task (driving a vehicle) to other employees.

  • Install a safety shield around a piece of machinery.

  • Install a piece of carpet to cover a concrete floor in the employee's work area.

  • Ask a supervisor to give written rather than oral instructions for persons who experience memory loss as a side effect of their anti epileptic medication.

  • Schedule consistent work shifts to accommodate persons whose seizure activity is exacerbated by inconsistent sleep patterns.

  • Allow an employee who experiences fatigue as a side effect of medication the opportunity to take more frequent breaks.

  • Allow an employee to take an extended break or time off after they have had a seizure.

  • Employee might require a reassignment to a vacant position (should be equivalent in terms of pay, benefits and status, if possible).

  • It has been found that in some cases, epileptic seizures can be triggered by blinking or flickering lights (by flash rates of 10 to 20 flashes per second). The following accommodation ideas might help in this area.

  • Glare guards and/or tinted computer glasses may reduce/eliminate glare and decrease color intensity on the monitor.

  • Not sit too close to the monitor and take time throughout the day to do something other than work with the computer.

  • Adjust the display intensity on an employee's computer monitor; the blinking cursor can be reduced by changing the configuration of the DOS shell or by purchasing software that reduces, eliminates, or enlarges the cursor.

  • If the employee is using a Windows application, slowing down the speed of the tabbing/flipping window below 3Hz (above 3Hz can trigger seizures) might help. To correct this, slow down the display speed by using a slower video adapter card so that the screen does not "roll" so fast.

  • Changing the color of the monitor screen to a less bright color.

  • Use a high resolution VGA monitor/flicker free screen (such as Motorola, Mitsubishi, or Magnavox monitors) to eliminate the flicker effect due to refreshing the screen.

  • Replace a flickering light in an employee's work area; eliminate fluorescent lighting and replace it with incandescent or natural lighting. Full spectrum lighting can be utilized (such as the Sun Box, Bio Light bulb).

  • Reduce stroke lighting within the room to 3Hz or below. For example, if the fire alarm system includes stroke lighting, the strokes should operate at a minimum of 1 Hz and a maximum of 3Hz (pg. 52, Federal Register / Vol. 56, No. 144 / Friday, July 26,1991/ Rules and Regulations) to prevent triggering an absence (petit mal) seizure.
Actual Accommodations for People with Epilepsy, from JAN

The following accommodation examples are taken from returned input sheets to the Job Accommodation Network. These are accommodation solutions that have been successful in the workplace.

A person working as a line production operator needed accommodations in the workplace due to epilepsy. At times, this person was unable to be at work as a result of seizures. Two major concerns for this person were her attendance record as well as safety issues. The employer accommodated this individual by allowing absences resulting from seizures to not count against her attendance; these absences were excused. The work environment was also altered such that all safety precautions were considered. For example, hot solder and sharp corners were moved away from the individual. Accommodation was made at no cost to the employer.

In the case of a sewing machine operator who experienced grand mal seizures, safety issues were a major concern. To accommodate this individual, the sewing machine was moved so that when the employee had a seizure she would not fall into it or other objects. Also, a local epilepsy affiliate provided seizure first aid and education. Accommodation was made at no cost to the employer.

A quality control inspector with epilepsy was unable to drive a forklift or work on elevated platforms. This individual was placed in another job that would not require him to drive a forklift or work on platforms. This accommodation has worked out well and was made at no cost to the employer.

A garage mechanic with epilepsy was unable to drive mobile vehicles. To accommodate the individual and to adhere to union specifications, negotiations with the union were settled by permitting any qualified employee, regardless of their job, to drive the mobile equipment as required for the garage mechanic to perform his duties. The accommodation was at no cost to the employer.

A person with epilepsy, employed as a "Burrer B" an individual who removes burrs and rough edges from commercial and industrial machine parts uses hand tools, files, burr knives, scrapers, and clampering tools. This individual was given work assignments that are all accomplished on ground level, do not include operating company vehicles, and are not around moving machinery. Cost was not given.

A plant operator was instructed by a physician not to work with heavy equipment or machinery or in height situations. He was offered a transfer at the same pay rate as an accommodation. Cost for this accommodation was not given.
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