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University of Iowa News Release

Release: Feb. 4, 2003

UI Disability Law Center Receives Contract

The Law, Health Policy & Disability Center at the UI College of Law has been chosen by the U.S. Department of Labor to study the effectiveness of the information it provides regarding accommodating disabled employees in the workplace.

The contract, which could last as long as five years, will study the department's Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a free consulting service that provides information about job accommodations, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the employability of people with disabilities.

The contract award is for $161,537 the first year and is renewable for up to four years (subject to the availability of funding) for a potential contract total of $637,747.

Approximately 32,000 persons from a variety of different groups contact JAN each year requesting information about job-related accommodations, education, training, marketing materials and referrals for information. The LHPDC will interview clients to determine how JAN's advice was used and the effectiveness of the result.

"JAN's important efforts support the employment of people with disabilities, including self-employment and small business ownership," said Peter Blanck, the Kierscht Professor of Law at UI and principal investigator of the project. "JAN is the most comprehensive resource available for job accommodations."

In addition, the center will assist JAN to assess information collected from clients about such topics as job accommodations, self-employment, and small business opportunities. That information will provide additional information about workplace accommodations, employment trends and retention of workers with disabilities.

The LHPDC and JAN will report findings to policy makers and the Department of Labor, as well as generate articles and presentation materials for the public.

The LHPDC will examine the ways JAN enhances job opportunities of people with disabilities through information on accommodations and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Dr. Deborah. J. Hendricks, project manager of JAN, noted, "JAN is a service of the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy in collaboration with the Center for Disability Information at West Virginia University and private industry throughout North America. It provides critical information to employers and individuals with disabilities on accommodations."

Currently, there are approximately 32,000 phone inquiries received by JAN each year. The LHPDC will conduct telephone interviews of requests for job-related accommodations, small business and self-employment services, educational and training accommodation, information and referral requests, and requests for marketing materials.

The LHPDC will conduct follow-up interviews with participating JAN customers. The information gathered via the interviews will include items such as: caller demographics; overall satisfaction with services provided; status of accommodation, whether implemented, decision pending, or rejected; the costs associated with making the accommodation; satisfaction with the information provided; satisfaction with the accommodation made; estimated benefits and other impacts resulting from the accommodation or information provided; and employment outcomes for the individual with a disability.

As one of the first comprehensive studies focusing on the results of the information gathered by JAN, the project will provide detailed information on accommodations in the employment environment.

The Law, Health Policy & Disability Center is a leader in law, technology, education and research, focused on improving the quality of life for persons living with disabilities. Based at the University of Iowa College of Law, with satellite offices in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere, the Center concentrates on public policy and its impact on persons with disabilities. For more information on this and other center projects, see http://www.its.uiowa.edu/law.

The Job Accommodation Network is a service of the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) of the U.S. Department of Labor whose mission is to provide leadership to increase employment opportunities for adults and youth with disabilities. For more information on JAN, see http://www.jan.wvu.edu/ and for more information on this service and other programs visit the ODEP website at http://www.dol.odep.gov.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT(S): Tom Snee, 319-384-0010, tom-snee@uiowa.edu; PROGRAM CONTACT: Peter Blanck, 319-355-9043, peter-blanck@uiowa.edu.