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"Reasonable Accommodations" Ideas

Lala329LLala329 Posts: 283
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:45 AM in Chronic Pain
I am starting school again in August and am working on my disability documentation. I always have trouble defining "reasonable accomodations" that would help me, so I was wondering if you guys had any accomodations you get at work, school, or just ideas of things that I could request that might help...They're really helpful as far as working with me, so it's just a matter of knowing what to ask for.

I'm a low back person with my main issues being that static positions are difficult (sitting increases the LBP, and standing increases the leg pain). Here are the things I've already thought of:

1) Supportive Seating: An office style chair is always helpful in classes

2) Permission to stand in the back of classes when needed

3) Permission to have my TENs unit in testing environments

4) Assistance in labs with lifting (microscopes weigh a bajillion pounds)

I'm trying to think of something that could help as far as stationary standing like in labs, but haven't come up with anything. I also think there are probably other things I just haven't thought of that could help, so I'd appreciate any ideas. Thanks :)


  • You will want to be able to get up and walk around during class, or at least stand up.

    If there are any long lectures, you might want to be able to tape record them so you can take a walk if you need to.

    I take it you're a sciences major- make sure any computer lab work can be done at home.

    And also, not sure if there is any drug testing?
  • I have found that the rubber or gel mats are very helpful when it comes to standing. That coupled with a very good supportive and shock absorbing pair of shoes.

    Good luck.
  • Stationary standing-- how about a tall stool nearby in case you need to sit for a minute or two? We have computer stations at work that have these, they have backs on them and are padded. I believe they would be considered office equipment but not sure.
  • Lala,
    For the most part the reasonable adjustment I requested were provided, negotiated and adapted, they moved a whole class to an alternative campus building on the ground floor to ease my mobility needs. What is reasonable to you may not be possible and for the most part these education establishments are well versed in providing a supportive environment. Most big establishment have the flexibility to accommodate your needs and able to adapt to what you may need on an ongoing basis and experience of your initial concerns.

    It is sometime difficult to envisage what you might need and how the accumulative effect of attendance will impact of how you cope in the future, how long will you be expected to stand and do you think you can achieve that and what is the alternative options.

    Does the timetable and location differ from your previous attendance, have a trial day and see how it goes, simulate all the things you would normally do in getting up and knowing what your seating and standing capacity is will be variable and perhaps determined on the things you know already. Are all your sessions in one place or how will you get the chair to where it is needed.

    We had note-takers and online text of each lecture so that we could download any session should the standing and sitting itself become a problem, get the school to notify all those who need to know of your requirement and perhaps periodic contact so that any problems are addressed as and when needed before they become a problem.

    My disabled son had provision throughout his education which continues and all have been flexible and adaptable to his specific need and made that transition and concern that we all have, less of a problem.

    I know you have worked hard to get here and good luck.

  • Forgive me, but I don't know how old you are, but if by 'school' you mean 'college' or further education, then it may be worthwhile to find out if they have a 'disabled students' service.

    When I did an Open University course for one year, I filled out the relevant disabled students forms and a lady came round to my home to assess my needs. They provided me with an ergonomic chair (which cost over £500, so its something I couldn't afford for myself), I still have this chair even though I finished the course 2 years ago. Once they provide it, its yours to keep, which is brilliant (I'm using it now!!!).

    They also provided me with a digital handheld recorder which comes with supporting software. If I had to get up and walk around I could 'click' a button (several times if necessary) because I could not continue to write notes if I was standing up. When I got home and loaded it on the pc, all I had to do was press a button and it automatically went to the points where I clicked, so I didn't have to search through 4 hours of speech! Very useful. They provided other stuff also, which I still use, like a lecturn (to write on a slope so I didn't have to bend forwards), a wireless mouse, a smaller keyboard - all to avoid extra leaning forwards. They also tried to get me to request a laptop, but as I have a PC at home anyway, this was not necessary. In applying to the disabled students team in no way did I feel awkward - but I had to do something in order to ensure I didn't miss my lectures and that I was able to type up all the academic essays required and submitted in time. They were extremely helpful, so if you can, perhaps you can try and find out if your school as such a team that can help you. I am not registered as 'disabled', but was still able to apply and receive much needed help.

    At my lectures I just advised the tutors about my need to get up as/when and there was no problems at all. I always sat at the back (still do at work when I attend training days, conferences etc). There is usally a desk to 'perch' on, which is more comfy and if you can be provided with a tall stool to perch on that's even better.

    As for pain when walking around - I have bought several pairs of MBT shoes. They take some getting used to at first and are not the most fashionable of footwear, but because there is no centre of gravity, it's difficult to stand still in them anyway. They allow you to walk without jarring your spine when you put your foot down (because the bottom of the heel is curved and softer, therefore you don't get any extra jolts when you walk). I seem to be quite heavy-footed when I walk, so they've been excellent for that little added protection for my back. They are very expensive, but be careful if you buy any on well known Internet shopping sites - as there are fakes going around - they cost about £160 here in the UK.

    I hope this info was useful and good luck with your studies!

    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!
  • I studied with the Open University too and they were extremely helpful. One thing they did as I also suffer arthritis in my hands was to let me sit my exams either at home (for which they would send an exam invigilator) or at the OU offices, which i chose, and where again I had my very own exam invigilator and breaks from the timing of the exam for me to get up and walk around to ease my back. In advance we came to an agreement about how much extra time I'd get to break from writing and walk around - in fact, they offered more time than I wished/needed - they were very, very good. For my hands, they allowed me to use a PC instead of handwritten examination (obviously you are watched to make sure you don't cheat with the computer). Definitely worth arranging what you will do in examinations well in advance (*now* would be good, even if they are a year or more away). Having this all arranged meant I did not have any extra exam stress than anyone else.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,878
    Dealing with spinal problems in a pure work environment is much different from a school environment.

    Most companies needs to address various requirements that employee's have. Special seating, Time to get up and walk around and move, and many other considerations.

    Schools, on the other hand do not have to abide by these same requirements. Some colleges will, some will not.

    Overall, the best for YOUR health would be:

    1 - Getting up and moving around from time to time
    2 - A chair that will provide you with comfort. Believe or not, one of the best chairs is really the big green exercise balls. It helps your posture and puts you into a perfect spinal position.
    3 - Talk with your professors about using a TENS unit. That should be non disruptive to the class so, to me, it would be easy to do.
    4 - Objects that are too heavy or could cause a problem. That again, I believe if you talked to your professors in advance, they would be agreeable to help you out

    In today's environment, no group, company or university wants to become a target of NOT helping people with spinal/disability problems. I think it may all come down to how you approach them. Coming in with two guns blasting will probably get you nothing. Discussing your situation and explaining how much you want to participate and continue may go a long distance.

    Wishing you the best with this
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • you can get help in certain education environments in your exams. I forgot to mention this before, but the Open University also arranged for me to type my exam and also allowed adequate breaks for me to get up and walk about. This was arranged well in advance. The OU were brilliant and, if I could afford it, I would have no hesitation in studying with them again.

    I hope your studies go really well.
    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!
  • who has posted has this pretty well covered.

    I can say that 99% of ANY University will accommodate almost ANY one of "us". They simply want to be the best they can be at what they do.

    You will find few that teach for money. Most do it for the love of teaching. I was actually at a close friends, mothers funeral LAST NIGHT. The friend confessed to feeling relieved that her mother was done suffering and in the next sentence said she was glad that she worked at the college where she is employed. Why? Well ,because it was all on ONE floor and she would be able to drive her mobility scooter in and teach until she was 90 if she lived that long!

    Talk to the dept that handles accommodations at the place you are going to school. Don't worry to much about the list until you talk to them. Anyone in the administration level can point you to the correct contact and most can be found searching the schools website.

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