West Virginia University’s Job Accommodation Network fields 30,000 telephone calls a year, as companies across the country phone in looking to modify their workplaces for employees with disabilities.
Even more visit the network’s Web site, which annually logs 5 million hits or more.
And now the network known as JAN is making new connectionsin Japan and South Korea.
JAN is giving labor and government officials from both countries use of its exclusive Internet research bank: the Searchable Online Accommodation Resource, or SOAR , for short.
SOAR presents a capsule list of disabilities, addressing everything from arthritis and paraplegia, to color-blindness and cancer.
Each capsule describes the limitations the condition i s likely to bring and includes a list of possible solutions companies can use to immediately accommodate a worker’s needs.
A lthough it was developed for use in the U.S., SOAR really is a n i nternational resource since it is on the Internet,said Dr. DeborahD.J.Hendricks, who m anages JAN ’s operations.We’re excited about sharing our knowledge of accommodations for persons with disabilities with employers in Asia and elsewhere around the world.
Both Japan and South Korea are now in the process of creating their own SOAR service, translating the information into their own languages, to help workplaces in their own bustling countries.
Almost every public building in South Korea is wheelchair-accessible, Hendricks said, and Japan has gone so far as to outfit its automated teller machines (ATMs) with rails, to provide better access for those customers using wheelchairs and walkers.
Japan might eventually establish its own JAN -styled information network, Hendricks said.
We’re very pleased to be able to help in this effort,”she said.It gives us global validation, and it just means that even more people will be able to participate in the workplace, no matter what their disability is or where they are located.
To visit SOAR on the Web, go to http://www.jan.wvu.edu/soar/index.htm .
JAN ’s WVU -based parent organization, meanwhile, the International Center for Disability Information, was recently awarded a $450,000 grant to better address the needs of workers with disabilities in a post-Sept. 11 America.
The grant from the National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research will develop informational and training materials to improve the evacuation of individuals with disabilities during natural or man-made disasters.