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Reintegration of a project manager at a foundation


The employer is an international foundation with the aim of political education, student support and international cooperation with around 600 employees.

Disability and functional restriction of the employee:

The employee has Guillain Barré Syndrome or an inflammatory disease of the peripheral nervous system. As a result of the disease, quadriplegia with paralysis of the legs and arms occurred. Because of this, the employee is dependent on a wheelchair for movement and his arm and hand function is not sufficient for almost all everyday activities. In addition, he is less physically resilient and, for example, after a certain time in a seated posture, requires a shift to a lying position.
The GdB (degree of disability) is 100. In the long term, the symptoms of paralysis caused by GBS may regress and the GdB may also change accordingly.

Medical-professional rehabilitation:

The illness was followed by a ten-month stay in hospital and rehab. During the last months of the rehabilitation stay, the employee worked a few hours a week after consultation with the health insurance company and the employer. They also looked for a suitable position for the period after the rehabilitation at the employer. Two months after being released from the rehabilitation clinic, he took up his new job with the employer, with a three-month gradual reintegration based on the Hamburg model. It started with four working hours a day. These were then increased by one working hour a day after every two weeks until he could then work full-time again.

Training and job:

The employee studied economics and social sciences in Germany and the USA. A postgraduate program specializes in development cooperation. Then he started working for his current employer. Before he fell ill, he worked for him in various foreign offices in Southeast Asia, North America and Africa and for several years he was the manager of a team with 30 employees. After his illness, he worked as a manager or as head of strategic planning in the international development cooperation department at the employer.

Workplace and work organization:

As head of strategic planning, he coordinates an international team that ensures the standardization of the supply of the approximately 100 foreign offices of the employer with IT services. In addition to applying for public funds to fund the project, the main tasks are contact with donors and external service providers, recruiting and leading the team.
Due to his disability, the work organization with video conferences, chats and digital collaboration platforms is particularly helpful for him, including working three to four days a week in the home office.
At work, phases alternate between sitting in a wheelchair at the desk and phases of lying work. The manager uses an active wheelchair with push rims and a special seat cushion, with whose support he can sit for up to six hours.
In the office at the VDU workstation there is a height-adjustable work table that is wheelchair accessible. In the home office there is an office table that can also be driven under or has a fixed height. For the required lying work phases there is a couch in the office, which has been adjusted by a carpenter to the seat height of the wheelchair for better implementation. In the home office he uses the bed for the lying work phases.
The most important tool for office work is a commercially available laptop that is used for the phases in a sitting or lying position. Special speech recognition software (Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional) is used to replace the mouse and keyboard. The software can be used to perform many of the laptop's control functions and to dictate and correct texts with almost no errors. The mouse can also be operated using voice commands, but this is not sufficiently practical for the employee in everyday work. He therefore uses a head mouse (eViacam) with which he controls the mouse pointer via the head movement and webcam of the notebook. In poor lighting conditions, however, the detection of the head movements does not work so well and the head is not correctly recognized, especially when lying down.
For such situations, the manager uses another head mouse (HeadMouse Nano), which emits infrared radiation that is reflected at a reflector point on the glasses. This means that he can control the mouse by moving his head even in poor lighting conditions and in any position. The actual mouse click is triggered via the voice control. With additional software (Point-N-Click) for input help, the drag-and-drop function can also be used.
The manager can also operate a standard smartphone. At the beginning of reintegration, he did this with the help of a pen, which could be easily guided with the mouth by thickening with a cushion. He can now also operate the touchscreen with his right thumb.
Since not all activities can be carried out on his own, he is supported by a work assistant with up to 130 hours per month, which is about three quarters of his monthly working time. He needs this support all day for office working days and outside appointments. The work assistant helps with undressing and dressing, switching devices on and off, taking notes during appointments and pushing the wheelchair. The work assistant also helps with transfer to the lying position and setting up the computer for lying work phases.

Work environment - mobility:

The manager's office is located in a relatively new office building, which has been designed to be barrier-free from the start. Getting around with the push wheelchair works on level hard floors such as parquet and tiles. Another person must push the wheelchair on carpeted floors and outdoors. For this reason, an electric wheelchair has already been applied for, which is then controlled via a joystick or tetragabel.
A driving service is available for commuting. The transfer was particularly difficult in the first year after resumption of work, as the manager lived on the third floor of an old building. It therefore took two people to get him down to the vehicle.

Comment of the employee:

'During my stay in rehab, it was signaled to me that my course of the disease would probably result in a disability pension. Nevertheless, it was always clear to me that I would try everything to find my way back into my everyday work. Without the very positive signals that my employer had sent out from the start and the great support from my family, this would not have been possible. Since I am not afraid of bureaucratic processes and forms due to my job, I was able to successfully handle the sometimes very extensive applications for the support services. If you do not bring this socialization with you, I recommend that you seek external help for your reintegration into work. '

Assistive devices used:

Wheelchair seat cushion
Input software
Head mouse

Support and participation:

The employer financed the electrically height-adjustable work table and the couch. The professional version of the speech recognition software was also financed by the employer. The head mouse with infrared detection of the head movement was promoted by the statutory health insurance as an aid that is supposed to enable participation in society in the private sector by compensating for the disability. The inclusion office bears the costs for the work assistance, which was granted after a two-month application process. The employee is responsible for recruiting and accounting for the work assistance. The pension insurance fund provides 85 percent of the driving service based on income based on a three-month application process.



  • telework /
  • inclusion /
  • rehabilitation /
  • participation /
  • participation in working life /
  • organisation /
  • environment /
  • best practice /
  • wheelchair /
  • working equipment /
  • full-time job /
  • reintegration /
  • vocational rehabilitation /
  • driving service /
  • mobility /
  • input device /
  • mouse /
  • mouse control /
  • speech recognition /
  • speech control /
  • software /
  • computer /
  • laptop /
  • screen work /
  • computer workplace /
  • office work /
  • economist /
  • manager /
  • management /
  • couch /
  • worktable /
  • table /
  • desk /
  • sit down /
  • head control /
  • paralysis /
  • digitalization /
  • EASTIN /
  • office for vocational integration /
  • medical insurance /
  • pension insurance /
  • Wheelchair-driver /
  • arm paralysis /
  • neurological disease /
  • tetraplegia /
  • office /
  • gripping /
  • holding /
  • body posture /
  • walking /
  • finger hand movement /
  • body load /
  • sitting /
  • shoulder arm movement /
  • workplace design /
  • work organisation /
  • assistive product /
  • staged reintegration /
  • working environment design /
  • job assistance /
  • body posture and body part movement /
  • mobility and locomotion /
  • environmental influences, safety and loads

update status: 17.12.2019

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