by Ned Stoller Ned Stoller

How do you decide what tool to modify when there are thousands of tools in the shop?  Think about which tasks are most important to you.  List desired improvements in order of priority with realistic dates of completion.  Addressing issues one at a time makes the worksite accessibilityTrailer tailgate lift. project doable instead of overwhelming. 


Completing necessary tasks on the job is the end goal of making the worksite accessible.  We might think of a great way to fix up a special tool or workstation, but if it does not help bring a job task to completion, we have forgotten our purpose.  Make a list of all the tasks you do throughout the course of a year.  To keep the completion of tasks at the forefront of accessibility planning, start by prioritizing your job tasks.  We will think about modifying the worksite once we know which tasks are most critical.  


Once your tasks are listed clearly, think which tasks are the most important.  Here are points to consider when prioritizing tasks. 

  • Business importance – how important is the task to your boss, or how essential is that task to keeping your business healthy?  
      • More important = 5, less important = 1.
  • Health & safety – are there any parts of the task that are especially dangerous to you? 
      • More healthy = 5, not applicable = 3, less healthy = 1.
  • Satisfaction – do you personally enjoy doing the task? 
      • Enjoy the task = 5, dread the task = 1.
  • Replaceability – can another person do that task instead of you, or is it your specialty? 
      • It is my specialty = 5, other workers could easily trade this task with me = 1.
  • Difficulty – is the task easy for you to perform, or will it require significant adaptation for your abilities?

      • I can almost do it = 5, this task is impossible = 1.
  • Frequency – how many times per year do you need to do this task? 
      • I do this daily = 5, I do this task rarely = 1.

Man raking snow off his roof from the ground level.You can give your tasks a score from 1 to 5 for each priority listed above.  Add the priority scores up and it will help point you to the most important tasks to accommodate. Working safely is always a high priority.  When workers have disabilities, it is especially important to follow medical advice to avoid secondary injuries.  


Now that you have thought through your annual tasks and carefully evaluated which are most important, it is time to figure out how to accommodate for your abilities. and other assistive technology professionals can help research appropriate solutions for your worksite.  Low-cost high-priority technology or methods should be pursued first.  The most important tasks are worth the greatest investment in assistive technology.  However, some lower priority tasks that are very simple and inexpensive to accommodate could also be addressed early in the process. 

As you research assistive technology for your worksite, it may become apparent that the cost of accommodating your whole work site is prohibitive.  By making a list of all your tasks and prioritizing them, you can make a scheduled and budgeted plan to purchase the assistive technology that will make the greatest difference in your ability to work.  It is critical to evaluate your tasks from every angle to make sure to invest in the area of greatest benefit.  Quick purchases of ‘cool’ technology may be fun to have, but not provide any cost benefit advantage.  By careful planning, you can make your worksite accessible one step at a time without feeling overwhelmed.