Workplace accommodations for persons with physical disabilities: evidence synthesis of the peer-reviewed literature

Publication type
Journal article
Padkapayeva K Posen A Yazdani A Buettgen A Mahood Q Tompa E
Date published
2017 Jan 25
Disability and Rehabilitation
Open Access?

PURPOSE: To identify and synthesize research evidence on workplace accommodations used by employers to recruit, hire, retain, and promote persons with physical disabilities. METHOD: A structured search of six electronic journal databases was undertaken to identify peer-reviewed literature on the topic published from January 1990 to March 2016. Articles describing or evaluating workplace disability accommodation policies and practices were given a full-text review. Topic experts were contacted to identify additional studies. RESULTS: Details on specific accommodations described in 117 articles were synthesized and organized into three groups comprised of a total of 12 categories. The majority of studies did not rigorously evaluate effectiveness or cost-effectiveness of the accommodations under study. CONCLUSIONS: This evidence synthesis provides an overview of the peer-reviewed literature of value to occupational rehabilitation professionals and employers seeking guidance on workplace accommodation policies and practices for persons with physical disabilities. A wide range of accommodation options is available for addressing physical, social, and attitudinal barriers to successful employment. Besides physical/technological modifications, accommodations to enhance workplace flexibility and worker autonomy and strategies to promote workplace inclusion and integration are important. More comprehensive reporting and evaluations of the effectiveness of accommodations in research literature are needed to develop best practices for accommodating persons with disabilities. Implications for rehabilitation There is a substantial peer-reviewed literature that provides insights into the barriers for persons with physical disabilities and the workplace accommodation practices to address them, though rigorous evaluations of effectiveness and cost-effectiveness are uncommon. Attitudinal and social barriers stemming from stereotypes, ignorance and lack of knowledge are as important as physical barriers to employment for persons with physical disabilities. In addition to physical/technological modifications, accommodations to enhance workplace flexibility and autonomy of a worker, as well as strategies to promote workplace inclusion and integration may facilitate successful employment of persons with physical disabilities