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Meeting of November 16, 2011

Written Testimony of Anne E. Hirsh,
Co-Director, Job Accommodation Network (JAN)

I would like to thank the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for inviting the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) to be a part of this important conversation. I am honored to be with you today representing JAN. As you may know, JAN is a service funded by the U.S. Department of Laborís Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). We provide information and consulting on job accommodations, individual rights/ employer responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and self-employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Annually, JAN responds to approximately 40,000 inquiries, working toward solutions that benefit both employers and employees. Through our service, we have and continue to support wounded and injured service men and women who are transitioning into the civilian workforce, the agencies that assist them, and the employers that hire them.

Through our toll free phone lines, email, and internet chat service we provide one-on-one consultation for employers and service members transitioning back into the civilian workforce by educating them on how to and what to consider as a job accommodation to enable the individual to effectively perform the job. For example, JAN provided information about amplified stethoscopes for a nurse who developed a hearing loss as a result of combat and was transitioning into work at a civilian hospital. Another example of the services JAN has provided was discussing with a veteran with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) how and if to disclose to a potential employer and what the implications may be in the workplace. JAN also has educated employers about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to dispel the myths and fears employers may have about PTSD.

In addition to one-on-one consultation, JAN has provided customized live and remote training on job accommodation and employment issues of veterans with disabilities at veterans-related events around the country. One example is a session conducted for 20 Military Career Counselors for the Navy Fleet & Family Support Center. This training focused on teaching career counselors how to educate service members and their families who are transitioning out of the service because of a disability or medical condition on their employment rights in the civilian workforce. Also, each November JAN hosts a Webinar specifically focused on accommodation and employment for wounded and injured service members, with over 500 sites participating from around the country. JAN has also conducted training sessions with state workforce systems; private employers; the Veteransí Administration; federal, state and local government employers; and service members themselves.

JAN has also supported other initiatives focused on returning service members with disabilities. An example of this is the U.S. Department of Laborís project Americaís Heroes at Work, which addresses the employment challenges of returning service members living with TBI and/or PTSD. JAN assisted in the development of the project by providing resources for and guidance on the development of a Website aimed at educating employers and the workforce system on how to help returning service members affected by TBI and/or PTSD succeed in the workplace.

Finally, I want to mention that JAN conducts research on the cost and benefit of accommodation. This research involves surveying people who have used the JAN service and getting information about accommodations that have been made. With the feedback from these consultations, JAN includes real-life accommodation situations and solutions in JAN documents. JANís Website includes links to veteran and service member resources as well as to JAN documents that describe situations in which a wounded or injured service member was successfully accommodated in the workplace: http://AskJAN.org/topics/veterans.htm.

In summary, JAN has and continues to educate employers about the abilities of returning service members and veterans with disabilities as well as their responsibilities to not discriminate against any potential or current employee. We also continue to help returning service members and veterans with disabilities understand their rights and responsibilities so they can be successful in the civilian workforce. We hope that through our work, as well as the work of other groups, returning service members will be able to succeed in civilian life.