Advocates address disability work accommodations in Columbus

Advocates address disability work accommodations in Columbus

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - O'Ree Crittenden and the staff at Access 2 Independence in Columbus, work day in and day out to get their peers with disabilities - physical, or learning - in touch with resources that can help improve their home lives or even their careers.

Crittenden, the assistant peer support director for the group, said the struggle continues for these members of the community to earn the jobs they want.

"A lot of that doesn't have to with the fact that people have disabilities," he said. "It has to do with the attitudinal barriers of when that person tries to apply for a job, no one sees how they can do that job."

The latest discussion among their peers: How these men and women can find jobs that will accommodate their limitations, or inform their employers about the changes they may need to be as productive as possible.

Changes that Crittenden and the staff said includes incorporating tools, either high-or-low tech, that will make their routine easier and more efficient.

"I use things like track balls, adaptive keyboards," Crittenden said, "things of that nature that allow me to still be able to do my job. I also use what's called text-to-speech. That's a great equalizer."

The Access 2 Independence staff told individuals with disabilities at Wednesday's meeting, that they can also go online to pages like the Job Accommodation Network, (JAN) where they can find expert-recommended accommodations that will help employees be productive, and allow employers to integrate them into the workforce - something, Crittenden said is already protected by legislation.

"The A.D.A (Americans with Disabilities Act) from 1990, it gives them a right to be accommodated for work and out in the community," he said. "Those barriers can be fixed just by having people out in the community with disabilities, showing that they can be active."

A-2-I advocates said they also work with individuals who come to their office on Delauney Avenue in Columbus to talk about the equipment that will best help them be independent at work or their jobs and then connect with lending libraries to use the tools they need.

Staff members said they will continue to invite the public to quarterly meetings and focus on dozens of issues simultaneously affecting disabled citizens in Columbus and several other counties.

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