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Job Accommodation Network

To view this fact sheet in it's entirety, please visit the Jan website.

Personal Assistance Services (PAS) in the Workplace

People with disabilities have a variety of limitations that interfere with their ability to perform daily activities. In some cases, limitations cannot be overcome without the assistance of another person. This type of assistance is called Personal Assistance Services (PAS). For some people with disabilities, PAS may be needed to successfully maintain gainful employment. Such PAS may include assistance getting ready for work, getting to and from work, meeting personal needs in the workplace, and performing job functions.

What is PAS?

While there is an extensive history of the provision of Personal Assistive Services (PAS) for people with disabilities in the home setting, the use of PAS in the workplace is a relatively new innovation. PAS in the workplace enables employees with disabilities to be fully integrated into the workforce and their community. This difference in the context of PAS usage has resulted in varying PAS definitions. In addition to considering the setting or location of PAS, some definitions also include the use of assistive technology as PAS. However, most believe that PAS is provided by people and that assistive technology complements the efforts made by a person. Below are a selected collection of definitions used by the government, research agencies, and advocacy groups in the United States.

Who provides PAS?

Because PAS incorporates a wide variety of services, there is no one resource for obtaining PAS. However, local Independent Living Centers (ILCs) provide referrals to appropriate community resources. These often are the best place to start when looking for PAS. For a list of ILCs by state, visit http://www.virtualcil.net/cils/.

However, the University of California at San Francisco through the support of the National Institute on Disability Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) is currently developing a national resource center for PAS. This new resource can be accessed at: http://www.pascenter.org/home/index.php.

Using PAS for Job Accommodation

The following questions can help employers determine effective accommodations options, including PAS:

  • What limitations is the individual experiencing in the workplace?

  • How do these limitations affect the person and the person's job performance?

  • What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?

  • What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these limitations? Are all possible resources being used to determine possible accommodations?

  • Has the employee been consulted regarding possible accommodations?

  • Once accommodations are in place, would it be useful to meet with the person to evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodations and to determine whether additional accommodations are needed?

  • Do supervisory personnel and employees need training regarding Personal Assistance Services (PAS), other disability areas, or the Americans with Disabilities Act?

Types of PAS which may be useful for people with 1) sensory, 2) cognitive, 3) mental health, and 4) motor impairments?

1) Sensory Impairments - Sensory impairments include blindness, low vision, deafness, and difficulty hearing.

The following discusses PAS that may be useful for individuals who are blind or visually impaired:

Qualified Readers - A qualified reader recites written information that is not otherwise accessible with technology.

Scribes - A scribe writes or types information that is communicated to him by another person.

Job Assistants - A job assistant performs various tasks, including, but not limited to, serving as a sighted guide to assist an employee who is blind in work-related travel; gathering material, accessing resources, and assisting with completing handwritten paperwork; and describing what is occurring in a classroom environment for an educator.

The following discusses PAS that may be useful for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing:
Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) Services - CART is verbatim translation of verbal communication into text by using a stenotype machine, notebook computer, and real-time software. For more information on CART services and resources, go to http://www.jan.wvu.edu/cgi-win/OrgQuery.exe?Sol491.

Qualified Interpreters - An interpreter translates spoken language into sign language and sign language into spoken language.

2) Cognitive Impairments - Cognitive impairments include mental retardation, learning disabilities, brain injuries, and epilepsy. The following discusses PAS that may be useful for individuals with cognitive impairments:
Qualified Readers - see above.

Scribes - see above.

Job Coaches - A job coach performs various tasks, including providing guidance on appropriate interpersonal skills and work behaviors, assisting with one-on-one job training at the work-site, problem-solving as needed, and helping acclimate an employee with a disability to the work environment.

Drivers - A driver operates a motor vehicle for individuals who cannot drive because of a disability.

3) Mental Health Impairments - Mental health impairments include bipolar disorder, depression, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, agoraphobia, and other psychiatric impairments. The following discusses PAS that may be useful for individuals with mental health impairments:
Natural Support Persons - Natural support means support from supervisors and co-workers occurring in the workplace. A natural support person can offer guidance on appropriate interpersonal skills and work behaviors, assist with one-on-one job training at the work-site, problem-solve as needed, and help acclimate the individual to the environment.

Qualified Readers - See above.

Drivers - See above.

4) Motor Impairments - Motor impairments include medical conditions that effect physical movement. The following discusses PAS that may be useful for individuals with motor impairments:
Personal Care Attendant - A personal care attendant provides assistance with personal needs such as toileting, grooming, and eating.

Travel Attendant - A travel attendant performs various tasks during job-related travel, including carrying luggage and work materials, helping navigate in unfamiliar cities, and sometimes providing personal attendant care.

Job Assistant - See above.

For more information on accommodation ideas for individuals with disabilities, go to JAN by Disability A to Z at http://www.jan.wvu.edu/media/atoz.htm.

PAS and the ADA

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodation for employees who meet the Act's definition of disability. Reasonable accommodation can include PAS in the form of work-related assistance, but generally does not include PAS in the form of personal attendant care at the work-site. However, in some situations, employers must consider providing personal attendant care for employees who travel away from the office. In addition, the EEOC states that employers may choose to go beyond the requirements of the ADA when providing job assistants.

Personal Attendant Care - According to the EEOC, employers are not required to provide personal attendant care in the workplace because employers are not required to provide accommodations primarily related to personal needs. However, employers are required to consider allowing employees with disabilities to bring their own personal attendants into the workplace.

Personal Attendant Care for Travel Away from the Work-site - According to the EEOC, employers may have to pay for personal attendant care for employees who travel away from the work-site for business even though employers are not required to pay for personal attendant care in the office. This is because employees often incur additional costs for personal attendant care for travel and it is this extra cost that employers must consider paying.

For additional information on reasonable accommodation under the ADA, visit Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship (EEOC Guidance) at http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/accommodation.html.

To view this fact sheet in it's entirety, please visit the Jan website.