Making Accomodations in the Work-place


Adam Wesley/The Gazette

Maggie Kollmorgen fills a box with cupcakes in July 2015, at the Scratch Cupcakery in Coralville, Iowa. Kollmorgen, who has Down syndrome, works two-hour shifts at the shop, which accommodated her disability during her training. Most accommodations for people with disabilities cost employers little or nothing.

Small accommodations can go a long way for workers like Maggie Kollmorgen.

Kollmorgen has Down syndrome, but she’s found a work home at Scratch Cupcakery, where she folds boxes, fills cupcake orders and cleans up around the store four hours a week.

When Kollmorgen began working there last fall, she needed to learn the job at a slower pace — taking a few weeks to learn how to build the boxes instead of the few days it takes most employees.

The longer training period was one of the workplace accommodations the cupcake business made to employ the 26-year-old worker.

“You teach them little things at a time and spend a little bit more than one day or one shift on it,” said Kim Frost, assistant manager at Scratch, who added the company also employs Kelly Cochran, another worker with disabilities.

Overall, Frost said, the accommodations were not major ones and having Kollmorgen and Cochran has been a great help.

“I’m just loving it here. I just get along very well with the co-workers here in the front and the back,” Kollmorgen said, adding it was great to be accepted by both the co-workers and the company.

This is a great example of how accommodation a person with a disability can be simple and often doesn’t have to cost much, but time  and imagination. Often many companies think that accommodations for people with disabilities will be expensive and don’t give those with a barrier to employment a chance.

Pearl Buck Center’s Community Employment  connects people with physical and cognitive disabilities to employers looking to fill positions. We are more than happy to show businesses where a person would be useful in the company and assist with training and implementing accommodations where needed.

According to a 2014 study by the Job Accommodation Network, a service from the Office of Disability Employment Policy under the U.S. Department of Labor, 57 percent of job accommodations can be made at no cost to the company while other accommodations typically cost upwards to $500.

If there is a cost associated with an accommodation companies can take advantage of tax incentives to cover the cost.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, passed in 1990, set the standards for the rights and responsibilities for employees and employers, including accommodation.

The law ensures people with disabilities have equal opportunity in how they apply for jobs and makes sure employees with disabilities enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment, such as providing a ramp to a front lobby or access to a break room.

He said the ADA also  requires companies to make reasonable accommodations so employees with disabilities can perform the essential functions of their job. This could be adjusting lighting to see better, or providing earphones for hearing better.

In the example mentioned above, that meant allowing Maggie more time to learn how to package boxes and tweaking her job responsibilities to her skill set.

The assistant manager of Scratch Cupcakery, Kim Frost said Kollmorgen and Cochran have made a positive contribution to the company.

“They just take the initiative, and that’s just great — not having to push someone to do things, and they just do it on their own,” Frost said.

Scratch Cupcakery, in Iowa, is not alone. Pearl Buck Center has successfully placed employees in many businesses within our very own community. Places like; Fuller Cabinet, Dari Mart, Playdates, Selco Credit Union, Chambers Construction, Willamalane, and Togo’s Sandwiches to name a few.

With all of these  companies, Pearl Buck Center’s Community Services has provided a job coach that accompanied the employees during their training to help them understand the employer’s expectations, what they were being trained and how to be successful.

If you would like Pearl Buck Center to help your business fill a position, please contact us and let’s talk and figure something out.