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Since 1984, the American Diabetes Association has challenged the notion that people with diabetes should be faced with undue restriction on their goal to gain or maintain employment. In fact, the Americans with Disabilities act requires that employers make “reasonable accommodations" to ensure that support is provided to enter or remain a part of the workforce. For diabetics suffering from hypoglycemia, it helps to have the assistance of a vocational rehabilitation counselor to assist employers with the process of providing reasonable accommodations and employees in gaining the skills necessary to be a qualified employee.
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What is a Reasonable Accommodation
The Americans with Disabilities Act essentially considers any modification, to a job or work environment, that enables a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions to be a reasonable accommodation. It is within this paradigm that vocational rehabilitation works to ensure that either those who are seeking work can find it, or those currently employed are able to remain so. If you require the services of vocational rehabilitation and hypoglycemia has created vision problems, an easy accommodation might be the substitution of a regular computer for one that is geared to the visually impaired; which might only consist of a magnifying screen.
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What is Vocational Rehabilitation?
Federal law mandates that all states have a vocational rehabilitation program. Both federal and State governments work in conjunction with each other to fund vocational rehabilitation (VR) programs.
To help you achieve your employment goals, VR may provide services such as medical and psychological examinations, including evaluations from specialists. The agents may evaluate your interests, skills, and abilities and if needed, referrals to other services are provided at no cost.
The agency assists people with disabilities to find and maintain employment. To achieve this goal, VR provides a variety of services that help clients market and use their abilities and skills to find work. Vocational rehabilitation includes work evaluation, job retraining and educational expenses.
There is no automatic eligibility, each agency has an application process that has several stages that begins at intake and terminates about ninety days after employment is gained or accommodation is made to maintain employment (case can be reopened if necessary).
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How Can Vocational Rehabilitation Assist the Hypoglycemic in Gaining Employment?
Hypoglycemia can become a serious medical condition very quickly if left untreated, but treatment is very simple. Possible accommodations for the hypoglycemic might include more frequent breaks to consume meals and snacks or test blood glucose levels, education sessions for coworkers on how to treat the condition and when to call for medical assistance or emergency packs containing glucose tablets and gel and sugary beverages kept at hand in the workplace.
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While most people with diabetes receive training from their medical team to recognize the warning signals of hypoglycemia and take the necessary action to normalize glucose levels there is no guarantee that complications will not arise.
Employers cannot simply assume that because a prospective or current employee is hypoglycemic or requires the intake of insulin that they are a risk. Each person needs to be evaluated for a position based on the job itself and the skill-set and abilities that an employee brings to the job.
It is possible for free or low cost accommodations to be made to the work environment that will assist the hypoglycemic to be a productive member of the workforce.
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U.S. EEOC Notice Concerning The Americans with Disabilities Act, 2008 Amendments http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/adaaa_notice.cfm
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Florida http://www.rehabworks.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Main.Main
Think Beyond the Label Field Guide to Evolving Your Workforce http://www.thinkbeyondthelabel.com/resources/pdf/The_Field_Guide_To_Evolving_Your_Workforce.pdf
Vocational Rehabilitation Programs for Diabetics With Hypoglycemia
Being diagnosed with Diabetes can alter how you see yourself and the world. There are many more questions than answers and rarely will you be prepared with all the right questions to ask your primary physician. Find answers to your questions, and ask some more.