"Form follows Function". Function is an important element to any design process. Better knowledge of function enhances accessibility and use within the environment, product, or service.
The who. Everybody is unique. Assessing function requires a deep understanding of the person's physical, cognitive, emotional, and spiritual capacities.
The where. Context of function is vital for any functional assessment. Whether it be in the built environment, virtual environment, or interfacing with a product such as an assistive device or technology.
The what. What is the purpose of function. To drive a car? Work in an office? Make meals at home? Knowing the occupation is vital for any functional assessment.
The who. Occupational Therapists possess the training necessary to understand human complexity as it relates to function. OTs possess knowledge of diverse array of function as it relates people including persons with disabilities.
The where. Occupational Therapists have knowledge of Human Factors and Ergonomic principles. These principles are rooted in the 7 principles of Universal Design.
The what. Promoting meaningful occupation is the core of Occupational Therapy. OTs understand the complex interaction between the Person and Environment affecting occupational performance.
The Universal Design Network of Canada is a federally registered non profit organization designed to promote Universal Design through education, research, and displays of best practices and policies.
Launched in 2017, UniversalDesign.ca was created to showcase Universal Design best practice and polices in Canada.
It is no surprise that persons with disabilities are under-employed. According to Statistics Canada’s Canadian Survey on Disability (2017), between 600,000 and 700,000 persons with disabilities in Canada who have the potential to work and are not working. Furthermore, persons with disabilities also have lower incomes are also more likely to live in poverty. A multi faceted approach to bridging this gap is required with main goals being:
1. Fostering Disability-confident and inclusive workplaces.
2. Providing comprehensive supports for persons with
Providing employers and persons with disabilities resources to help bridge the gap is key. Much needed are resources for workplace design, workplace accessibility, assistive technology. and vocational assessment / planning.
Occupational Therapists are well trained to identify functional, occupational, and environmental barriers to working. More importantly OTs can offer solutions to overcome these barriers using tools such as functional assessments, Job Site Analysis, Job Matching, Ergonomic Assessments, Accessibility Assessments, and more.
WorkplaceInclusion.ca is a website meant to offer practical resources for employers to help bridge the gap for persons with disabilities entering the workforce.
A publicly funded employer referred an employee with a work related pain disability to a health / rehab clinic with the reason being she could not complete all of her required job demands of a clerical position. Her main issue was back pain and functional limitations included prolonged walking. Walking the long but wide corridors to deliver mail was a challenge. The health care professional completed an analysis of her workplace and discovered walking and standing demands could be minimized with use of a scooter. However the design of the workplace space was insufficient to accommodate a wheelchair let a lone a scooter. Recommendations were provided to increase door widths among others. The employer realized that by changing the workplace design can accommodate this worker but also other people who use a mobility device.