241727 Telework: Boon or Boondoggle? Does it provide acceptable employment opportunities for persons with disabilities?

Monday, October 31, 2011: 4:30 PM

Raymond E. Glazier, PhD , Center for the Advancement of Rehabilitation & Disability Services, Abt Associates Inc., Cambridge, MA
Parag Kunte, MPH , Center for Health Policy and Research, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Shrewsbury, MA
John Gettens, PhD , Work Without Limits Initiative/Center for Health Policy and Research, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Shrewsbury, MA
Alexis Henry, ScD, OTR/L , Work Without Limits Initiative/Center for Health Policy and Research, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Shrewsbury, MA
Telework is most commonly performed from a person's home, and thus can accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities ranging from agoraphobia to quadriplegia. Telework is a practice that appears to meet Universal Design criteria, viz., a broad-spectrum design feature that is beneficial to the general population, but is particularly helpful to persons with disabilities. However, some disability advocates fear that the practice is unacceptably isolating and compromises community integration and competitive employment. The National Telework Consumer Survey was designed to inform the debate with real primary data on consumers' views.

We surveyed a population of persons with disabilities who had differing degrees of connection with a national disability employment network that recruits, trains, and hires prospective workers with disabilities to fulfill assignments the organization has brokered with government agencies and businesses. The survey sample frame consisted of nearly 10,000 individuals who received an e-mail recruitment flier for a 20-minute on-line survey about their all aspects of their experience with Telework,

While many write-in comments from ardent advocates expressed gratitude for the opportunity to engage in meaningful employment from home and the flexibility Telework afforded, over 71 percent of those who had actually worked at Telework jobs, primarily in part-time call center positions, expressed dissatisfaction with Telework.

This presentation will focus on what respondents found least (and most) satisfying about this type of employment. Because theses issues were addressed using open-ended survey questions, the qualitative survey data are particularly rich and provide a unique window into Teleworkers' attitudes and experiences.

Learning Areas:
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Occupational health and safety
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Explain the concept of Telework, Describe how Telework can be advantageous to persons with disabilities, Describe the advantages and disadvantages of Telework for these consumers, Assess the potential efficacy of Telework in improving self-sufficiency for persons with disabilities.

Keywords: Disability, Workplace Stressors

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the co-author of the survey upon which this presentation is based. Currently, I am a tenured Associate of Abt Associates Inc., the social research firm, and Founder and Director of its Center for the Advancement of Rehabilitation and Disability Services. My recent disability employment research involvement includes 10 years of top level participation in the policy research program and implementation efforts of the Massachusetts Medicaid Infrastructure and Comprehensive Employment Opportunities grant from CMS and its WorkWithoutLimits initiative.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.