Business & Society

Individuals with Disabilities Get Help to Work from Home

Working from home would make any person’s life more convenient; no more long commutes, comfortable surroundings, few interruptions and a more flexible schedule. But for an individual with a disability, teleworking from home can mean the difference between having a job and being unemployed.
With funding from the U.S. Department of Education, the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation (UATF) at Utah State University started a new program called Access to TeleWork, a loan program in collaboration with Zions Bank, to provide zero-interest financing for people with disabilities to purchase the necessary equipment to work from home or a telework center.
“Finding employment as an individual with a disability is very difficult,” said Gordon Richins, a previous program loan recipient. “I have many friends who could benefit from teleworking. This could potentially provide many of them with employment opportunities they haven’t had in a long time.”
TeleWork offers zero-interest loans to individuals with disabilities to finance a wide variety of equipment such as computer hardware and software, worksite modifications, videoconferencing equipment and home office modifications. The loans can be up to $7,000 and UATF pays all of the interest on the loan.
“Computer technologies, including adaptive technologies and the Internet, have tremendous potential to increase the employment opportunities and independence of people with disabilities,” said Marilyn Hammond, UATF executive director.
People with disabilities often face barriers to employment, including lack of transportation, inaccessible work environments, employer fears about accommodation costs, fatigue; and the need for personal assistance services. These barriers can be reduced or eliminated through the availability of TeleWork.
TeleWork offers employees increased flexibility, improved morale, elimination of the cost and stress of commuting; and increased work quality with fewer interruptions. TeleWork also benefits employers through reduced costs, increased productivity; and lower environmental pressures. Offering telework positions may serve as an excellent employer incentive to attract and retain skilled workers while accommodating a diverse workforce.
To find out if you or someone you know qualifies for a loan to obtain equipment to work from home, please call 1-800-524-5152 or visit the Web site.

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