The mindset of an employer is pivotal to the establishment of an inclusive workforce. Job accommodation will also provide the foundation for one that is robust and sustainable in the long term.
Jobs are typically designed for able-bodied individuals and the tasks assigned would largely tap on the employees’ cognitive ability, sight, hearing and speech. To provide equal job opportunities to people with physical or sensory impairments, employers should be willing to re-design jobs so that tasks that cannot be performed by people with disabilities are assigned to others who can carry them out, leaving people with disabilities to handle those they are able to. By doing so, employers are leveraging on the strengths of the employee while addressing their limitations.
Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) serviceman Military Expert (ME) 2 Jason Chee lost both his legs, left arm and three fingers on his right hand in an accident whilst working on board a warship in December 2012. He recently returned to work in June 2014, 18 months after the accident.
Jason now works in an office environment as an operations supervisor in 191 Squadron. As he moves around in a motorised wheelchair and only has the use of his right hand, his unit worked with SPD’s assistive technology specialists to redesign his job as well as make physical modifications to his work station and work space. Jason was also prescribed assistive technology devices to reduce the stress on his body during work. Let’s take a look at the adaptations that the RSN has made to help integrate Jason back into work.
There is no single solution to integrating a person with special needs into mainstream workforce. Whilst assistive technology provides the tools and advice from professionals can provide insights to redesigning work spaces, employers and fellow co-workers also play a significant role for successful inclusion.
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