Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access

Universal Design Practices to Enhance Work Outcomes

A NIDRR Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project (DRRP)

Principal Investigator: Jon Sanford
Co-Investigators: Fran Harris, Maureen Linden, Karen Milchus, Harshall Mahajan, Nathan Moon


The goal of the DRRP is to increase knowledge about, availability of and access to Universal Design (UD) accommodations to enable employees with disabilities to participate fully in the workplace, enjoy enhanced employment outcomes and have equal opportunities for advancement.

To accomplish this goal, Georgia Tech’s Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA) is:

  1. Developing and validating the Workplace Accommodation Rating System (WARS), a set of standards and a new rating system for UD accommodations based on the Commercial Building Standards developed by IDEA Center for the Global Universal Design;
  2. Expanding the Work RERC's Workplace Participation Survey (WPS), originally developed and validated for workers who use wheelchairs in an office setting, to include workers with all types of limitations, including vision, hearing, mobility, dexterity, speech, and cognition in multiple work settings;
  3. Describing the relationship between employer accommodation practices and work outcomes;
  4. Identifying the salient UD accommodation practices that are associated with positive work outcomes for employees with disabilities; and
  5. Identifying needs and opportunities, and developing and disseminating materials about accommodation policies and practices.

Overall, the research will enhance our understanding and develop an important evidence base that demonstrates the potential benefits of universal design accommodations not only in meeting both activity and participation needs of employees with disabilities but also promoting positive work outcomes in job satisfaction and productivity.

Such information is crucial to practice and policy decisions that recognize the importance of multiple dimensions of work as both an individual and social experience as well as the contributions of the work environment in shaping that experience.

This evidence is essential for laying the foundation for improved practices, policies and perceptions regarding accommodations for individuals with disabilities and adoption of universal design practices by policymakers, rehabilitation professionals, and employers.

Participate in Our Research

Related Research Papers and Presentations

  1. Harris F., Sanford J., Milchus K., Moon N., Linden M., and Mahajan H. (2016, May) "Development of the Workplace Participation Survey."  2016 National Association of Rehabilitation Research Training Centers (NARRTC) Conference, Alexandria, VA.
  2. Yang, H.Y.; Harris, F.; and Sanford, J. (2011). "Supporting Workplace Participation: Effects of Job Accommodations." Presented at the "Update from the RERC on Workplace Accommodations" panel session. 2011 RESNA / FICCDAT Conference, Toronto, Canada.
  3. Yang, H., Harris, F., Sanford, J. (2011, Apr.). "Supporting Participation in the Workplace: Effects of Job Accommodations."  AOTA 91st Annual Conference, Philadelphia, PA.
  4. Yang, H.Y.; Harris, F.; and Sanford, J. (2010). "The Impact of Job Accommodations on the Participation of Employees with Mobility Disabilities in the Workplace." International Conference on Aging, Disability and Independence (ICADI), Newcastle, UK.

GT Login