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VCU-RRTC Webcast - Job Site Accommodations

2:00 pm EDT May 11, 2017   |   Organized by: Virginia Commonwealth University


Assistive technology changes as technology evolves. This can create new job opportunities for people with disabilities previously not considered.  When determining the type of assistive technology that will be needed it is important to understand the individual’s interests, skill set, aptitudes, and barriers to employment. Matching the assistive technology to the individual requires consideration of the person, the demands of the job tasks, and the environment in which they work. Prior to beginning the assessment, it is essential to gather all the relevant information for the process to move smoothly and effectively.  The client needs to be actively engaged and self-determined.  Communication among the support team is one of the most critical factors when it comes to job success.  The AT assessment can take place in a variety of settings and can have several different people involved.  The technology may be off the shelf or individualized to meet their needs. Prior to making any accommodations in the work place, a number of questions need to be answered; “does the solution make the task easier?”, “will the changes increase the risk of injury?”, or “how will the changes affect other employees?” Cost and durability of the technology must be considered.  Trials of equipment and accommodations, installation and training, and follow-up are essential components in the AT process.  A variety of case studies will be showcased to include skilled trades, service industry, work from home, and college success.


Patricia Burns, B.A., OT & AT Specialist

Patricia Burns is an occupational therapist and assistive technology specialist for the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services. She was instrumental in developing one of the first Computer Accommodation Labs in the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1989. Pat has provided a wide variety of assistive technology services in her over 25 years of experience. Her most recent work has primarily been with the use of hand held technologies, youth in transition, computer access and work site accommodations. Pat earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Occupational Therapy from the College of St. Catherine.


Thomas Rybak, M.F.A., Rehabilitation Engineer

Thomas Rybak is a Rehabilitation Engineer that has worked at the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services for over 20 years. Tom was the principal developer of the Rehab Engineering Fabrication Shop in Richmond. This interdisciplinary fabrication workshop facility is equipped to craft all types of materials and techniques to create and develop highly customized low and high tech assistive devices for clients with disabilities. Tom also provides architectural modification plans to make clients’ homes and worksites more accessible to achieve maximum vocational and independence goals. He consults regularly with and provides presentations to OTs, Vocational Rehab Counselors, clients and their family members, as well as other community members to remove barriers to employment, education, and daily living. Tom received his BFA in Painting from Washington University in St. Louis in 1982 and MFA in Painting from VCU in 1984. Prior to coming to DARS in 1995 Tom worked in construction, cabinetmaking, and building interactive displays at the Science Museum of Virginia.