Successful Aging at the Workplace (2007–2009)

Primary Investigator: Dr. Daniela Jopp & Jon Sanford

Project Partner: Center for Assistive Technology and Environmetnal Access, Georgia Institute of

Technology, Atlanta, GA

Project Team: Dr. Daniela Jopp (responsible project member), Jon Sanford, NN

Project Description


How individuals with disabilities manage to age successfully in the workplace has been largely neglected (for an exception, see Krause, 2001; Mitchel, Adkins, & Kemp, 2006). Although a wide variety of tools and aids are provided in the workplace to assist employees with disabilities (see Milchus & Bruce, in press, for an overview), the data suggests that these individuals encounter additional challenges due to age-related changes (Sabata, et al., 2006). The severe drop in employment rates above the age of 50 among individuals with disabilities compared to able-bodied individuals (e.g., Krause, 1992; Krause & Anson, 1996) apparently reflects that additional aids are not made available, or that no effective means are found to assist the majority of individuals to deal with age-related changes which add to the challenges posed by disability. The major goal of the present project is thus to explore in more detail how aging affects individuals with disabilities in the workplace and to examine how these effects can be modified or compensated for.


Of particular interest is if and how older adults with disabilities are able to overcome age-related difficulties with tasks at work. In collaboration with Microsoft Corporation, this project is designed to assess how individuals with disabilities deal with the difficulties they encounter in the workplace, with a specific focus on computer access including both hardware (i.e., monitor and interface devices) and software (e.g., accessibility features) environments. The specific aims of the project are to identify: 1) Specific problems experienced by older adults in using computers; 2) The types of off-the-shelf and custom made tools and aids that are used to overcome problems; and 3) accessibility features that are available (e.g., magnified screen view), but not being used to overcome problems. Based on these findings we will develop guidelines for strategies for improvement in the workplace and conduct usability studies supported by Microsoft Corporation to determine the need for and provision of the necessary aids and training.


A minimum of one hundred employees with disabilities and 100 employees without disabilities aged 55+ years will participate in the main study. Groups will be matched on job type and type of work tasks. In addition to this, a group of 20 individuals with and without disabilities will be randomly selected to participate in follow-up telephone interviews. The online survey will use both standardized and project-specific measures. Because there are no standard measures available in order to assess SOC strategies at the work-place, we will develop a new measure. Furthermore, we will use lists of workplace modifications to measure which are regularly used by the individual. In order to assess what individuals do when being confronted with difficulties, we will ask them to report about difficulties encountered in their everyday life at work and ask them about the strategies they use to cope with these situations. This open material will then be coded by independent raters.


The project is currently in its first phase, we are preparing measures and data collection.

Publications and Materials

Findings from the first phase of the project can be found at:


This project is part of the Workplace Rehabilitation Engineering and Research Center (RERC), which the following institutions are involved in:

Responsible: e-mail
Latest Revision: 2018-05-23
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