Technology has been a boon to many workers, but it is especially valuable to people with disabilities,allowing them to be a more productive part of the workforce. It also allows employers to make better use oftalent in a tight job market.

Some types of accommodation are expensive, but much is low cost or even free. And, according to theJob Accommodation Network (JAN), the return on investment is great. Based on responses from October1992 to October 1998, a JAN survey of employers found that for every dollar spent to make anaccommodation, the company got an average of $32.82 in benefits. Almost half of the accommodationsmade cost between $1 and $500, and 20% of the accommodations cost the employers nothing at all.

The employers surveyed said making the accommodations allowed them to hire and keep qualifiedemployees as well as save on workers' compensation and insurance costs.

JAN, which was founded by the President' s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities,provides free technical support and assistance to both businesses and people with disabilities on how todesign job site accommodations.

Technology can be used to assist employees with vision impairment in a number of ways. Employees withsome vision who use computers may benefit from screen magnification software, larger monitors orspecial computer glasses to reduce glare. For employees not helped by magnification, there is screenreading software and Braille display.

Employees with hearing impairments may benefit from amplified telephones; text telephones (TTYs), alsoknown as telecommunications devices for the deaf (TDDs); Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS); oruniphones - a combination telephone and text telephone with voice carryover capabilities.

An employee with back impairments may benefit from such high tech equipment as adjustable workstations, ergonomic chairs and electronic filing systems.

For information on Job Accommodation Network, call 800-526-7234 or visit their Web site at

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