original WINDMILLS training program was developed to raise our
awareness of the limitations we impose on the employment of people with
disabilities because of our lack of understanding and our acceptance of myths.
title WINDMILLS is derived from the literary classic Don
Quixote. Our goal was to slay the dragons of misunderstanding created by
fear, myths, biases, and stereotype.
Twenty-five years have passed since we wrote the original curriculum. The Americans with Disabilities Act is now law, and it embraces the tenets of
our original training program.
new WINDMILLS program, like the original, is specifically designed
to be easily portable, and is comprised of training modules, each of which
requires about one hour to complete. The modules can stand alone or be combined
in any configuration to meet the needs of different target populations,
including middle management, personnel staff, and first‑line supervisors. The
program is also designed to allow modules to be used to supplement and enhance
ongoing training programs.
With all of the positive changes that have occurred since the first Windmills,
attitude remains the major barrier to employment and integration for all
people of diversity, especially for people with disabilities. WINDMILLS has become known as a leading teaching instrument in shattering attitudinal barriers.
Who Uses WINDMILLS
A sampling of past and current users:
Bank of America
U.S. Departments of:
Health and Human Services
National Institutes of
1 - Empathy | 2 - The Story
| 3 - Rumor | 4 - Profiles
| 5 - Disabilities: Fact or Fiction? |
6 - Pick a Disability | 7 - Ask
it Basket | 8 - Encounter |
9 - Whose Fault? |
10 - Reasonable Accommodation |
11 - Taking the Emotion Out of Emotional Disabilities
12 - Traumatic Brain Injuries
GOALS & OBJECTIVES
WINDMILLS has a proven
twenty-seven year history of assisting those with and without a disability to
understand better the culture of disability in the workplace. It is best defined
as an employer-employee training tool designed to shatter attitudinal barriers.
It accomplishes this by offering modules wherein participants and a professional
trainer interact. Although there are twelve modules, training sessions may vary
to include any single module, several modules, or all of the modules in one or a
series of workshops. The overall concept of WINDMILLS is to:
• Build a spirit of teamwork
• Reduce human relationship conflicts
• Present a better understanding of legal
concerns and workplace accommodation issues
• Lower lost time costs
• Increase communication
• Create a pathway for conflict resolution
Module 1 - Empathy
introduce group members to each other;
help participants identify their feelings about disabilities in 'first
explore how participants' initial feelings might impact negatively on
interactions with people with disabilities.
In this exercise we
explore some typical human responses to circumstances where our experience may
be limited or affected by mistaken perceptions. Employers and others who have
limited experience interacting with people with disabilities will probably feel
some anxiety or fear of "doing the wrong thing." These feelings of anxiety may
also be felt by the person with the disability. When we realize that these
potentially awkward situations do not involve "we and they" but simply "we," we
have taken together the first essential step to effective communication.
Module 2 - The Story
participants to realize that they have had experiences with disabilities or
persons with disabilities;
participants to learn that other people have had similar experiences and
participants in realizing that "people with disabilities" are often our family,
loved ones, ourselves.
While participants may
think they're coming to a workshop on "them", they are actually going to talk
about a group that doesn't seem that separate from "us". It turns out that
disability has touched all of our lives, even though we might not have realized
Module 3 - Rumor
how facts become distorted through rumor;
how rumors and inaccurate information can affect the employment and return to
work of people with disabilities;
practical suggestions for avoiding rumor problems that can arise when employing
people with disabilities;
To explore fears,
stereotypes and concerns that supervisors and employees may have about bringing
ill and injured employees back to work.
This exercise points
out a few Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act implications,
such as negative environment that may be created by rumors for a person with a
disability. It is important for employers to defuse environments that are potentially hostile
for workers with disabilities, just as they would work to defuse situations
involving racial or sexual harassment.
Also discussed are the ADAAA implications
concerning confidentiality issues, and the need to distinguish between the "right to know" and the "need to know" when evaluating how relevant an employee's disability is to the functions of the job.
The rumor exercise points
out the importance of training all staff on the goals, objectives and procedures
for corporate disability management and return to work programs.
Module 4 - Profiles
stereotyping of persons with disabilities may impact employment decisions;
participants to evaluate, on a case-by-case basis, each job match with a person
with a disability;
assumptions about "Good" and "Bad" jobs for certain disabilities.
The most important point of
this exercise is that you are not provided enough information about the person
to determine if it was a good or bad job match. You look at the disability
itself and not the person with the disability. It is vital that duty
statements and/or job descriptions be broken down into essential and marginal
job functions, and that you base your interview questions on the essential
functions. This method will allow the person with a disability to tell you
how they can perform the job.
If you have a concern about
how an applicant with a disability will perform an essential function do not be
afraid to just ask them. More times than not the applicant will have an answer.
If the applicant does not have the answer there are other recourses for
Don't always assume that
just because a job has been done one way it must always be done that same way.
Do not allow stereotypes and misconceptions to cause you to miss out on a
valuable employee. Consider each individual on a case-by-case basis.
Module 5 - Disabilities: Fact or Fiction?
participants to anticipate situations that might occur in the workplace with
people with disabilities;
participants aware of respectful etiquette and language in creating a
comfortable work environment for all employees;
participants with some of the basics of disability employment law.
Much of the
discrimination that occurs – intentionally or not - and that is addressed in
state and federal Laws, results from faulty assumptions, generalizations, and
misinformation about people with disabilities.
For employers, knowledge of state and federal laws regarding
discrimination on the basis of disability is essential not only to meet legal
obligations, but also to benefit from the wealth of talent and skill available
in people who happen to have a disability.
A variety of resources
are available to employers to inform themselves of their responsibilities and
rights under the law and to assist them in designing accommodations to
facilitate employee satisfaction and optimum productivity.
Module 6 - Pick a Disability
stereotypes associated with common disabilities;
participants' emotional reactions to specific disabilities;
understand the impact of attitudes about people with disabilities and the effect
they can have on our relationships with each other.
in mind that one experience with a person with a particular disability is not
automatically transferable to other people with the same disability. This kind
of thinking can lead to beliefs that there are jobs that are "well suited" to
people with disabilities. Just as with people without disabilities, each
individual will have particular strengths and weaknesses that must be evaluated
in light of the position for which he/she is applying.
It's important to
understand that we all react to disabilities. To ensure valid or defensible
actions, make your decisions based on the experience and qualifications of the
Module 7 - Ask it Basket
inherent fears about asking questions regarding disabilities or persons with
To reduce the
threat of seeking answers to questions which can prevent employment and
advancement of people with disabilities;
To broaden the
group's knowledge of disabilities and to focus on the abilities of these people
which allow them to work;
will learn simple and easy ways to get answers to any future questions they or
their co-workers might have about disabilities or people with disabilities.
important to understand that most people are not knowledgeable about
disabilities. It is natural for us to have questions about specific people with
disabilities or disability in general. It is okay to ask questions. It is when
we don’t obtain the information we need, that qualified people with disabilities
are overlooked for promotion or not considered for hire. The answers do exist.
Module 8 - Encounter
participants feel more confident and relaxed in dealing with disabilities;
To provide a
better understanding of specific disabilities;
participants to become exposed to people with disabilities in a safe,
and federal disability discrimination law limits the types of questions a
manager/supervisor may ask a person with a disability during a job interview.
This exercise is specially designed to help you feel more comfortable, but be
aware that many of the questions being asked in this module may not be legal in
a job interview.
Module 9 - Whose Fault?
participants' awareness of the different players and roles in a successful
business program employing persons with disabilities;
participants in considering their own roles in making a program successful;
more effective ways to communicate and resolve conflict;
To review methods that
participants can implement to improve the way they work with persons with
Many employers are hesitant to employ
a person with a disability for fear that the person will fail and the employer
will be blamed. This exercise shows that it is not necessary to blame if we
learn from our mistakes.
Persons with disabilities have problems
just like everyone else. Unfortunately, they do not always have them handled
like everyone else. Hiring a person with a disability is not enough. Business
must also effectively utilize and supervise them if an employee with a
disability is to succeed.
Module 10 - Reasonable Accommodation
participants with the creative process in identifying possible reasonable
participants with the interactive communication process to develop
participants to a wide range of disabilities which might require reasonable
participants on the ADAAA definition of reasonable accommodation.
One of the
most important concepts within the ADAAA is that of reasonable
accommodation. It is central to the idea of providing an opportunity for
individuals with disabilities to participate fully in the workplace.
accommodation is also the subject that engenders the most confusion and
misunderstanding among employers, as well as among those with disabilities
themselves. The ADAAA states that persons with disabilities are their own best
experts when it comes to assisting the employer to determine what accommodation
will work best for the person. While this is true in most cases, experience
tells us that it is essential for the employer to have more than a passing
knowledge of this important subject. This is what this module attempts to offer.
Module 11 - Taking the emotion out of emotional disabilities
demonstrate that employers are more effective at brainstorming reasonable
accommodation ideas for persons with physical and sensory disabilities than they
are for persons with emotional disabilities;
the effects of employers’ emotional reactions to emotional disabilities;
To provide a
way for employers to consider reasonable accommodations for persons with
emotional disabilities in an emotionally neutral environment.
There is a
vast body of information about accommodating people with emotional disabilities.
They are not necessarily unpredictable or out of control. The key to developing
reasonable accommodation for this population is to approach their needs in the
manner we approach the needs of those with physical disabilities.
The key is not
to try to accommodate the diagnosis but rather to identify how the
impairment affects the person's ability to perform the essential functions of
Module 12 - Traumatic Brain Injuries
To improve participants’
awareness of the range and scope of mild to severe traumatic brain injuries;
To explore the participants’
assumptions and beliefs about how traumatic brain injuries affect job
To identify effective ways to
accommodate employees with traumatic brain injuries;
To review strategies participants can implement to improve how they work with people with traumatic brain injury.
injuries are a challenge for employers, they are less taxing if we keep
ourselves informed. Remember not to become intimidated by the nature of the
injury, but instead to concentrate on specifically how each employee is
Traumatic brain injuries have been called the "injury du jour"
of the war on terrorism. Hundreds of thousands of our soldiers are, and
will be, coming home with such injuries. Our ability to assist them in
their transition back to civilian life should be both a national and a corporate
A - Program planning and sequential checklist
B - Examples of job accommodations
C - Suggested films/videos
D - Guide to acceptable terminology in the field of disability
E - Guide to etiquette and behavior for working with people with disabilities
F - Overview of major disability legislation (including the American with
Disabilities Act and the Federal Rehabilitation Act)
G - General Resources
Individuals who have attended a T for T session within the last two
years qualify to initiate the credentialing process.
Obtaining a credential is a new process that accompanies the publication of
the 2009 edition of WINDMILLS. Credentialing consists of participating in a T
for T program, a follow-up interview, and documentation of on-going training