FIGURE 4-1 Abandonment of workplace accommodations over time.
SOURCE: Reprinted with permission from Jon Sanford, Georgia Tech.
that 38 percent never used their accommodations or discontinued use within 1 year, and two-thirds discontinued use within 5 years (see Figure 4-1). Among those who abandoned an accommodation, one-third left their accommodations behind when they left a job and could not take the accommodation with them. Another third abandoned a technology when it became outdated.
Abandonment of a technology is just one of several barriers to participation that Sanford cited. Others include negative attitudes on the parts of employers and coworkers, lack of awareness about available accommodations, the inaccessibility of technologies, the lack of acceptance of accommodations, and the technologies’ expense. Sanford also cited three less obvious barriers to obtaining the right technology. A technology may produce workplace activity but not workplace participation if an employee is not able to engage in a shared experience that creates a sense of belonging. Similarly, accessibility implies access not only to spaces but to conversations, meetings, social events, and the other aspects of the workplace. An employee may not be able to get to the cafeteria, participate in a training session, or even go to an office party if it is in an inaccessible place. Awareness and understanding of how to keep people engaged in the workplace, and not just in work, is the issue. True participation implies a sense of belonging, inclusion, and recognition that a person’s work is adding value to a workplace.