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Layout of a telephone exchange in a reception area for an employee with multiple sclerosis


The employer is a sheltered workshop for the disabled (WfbM). Included in the service sector achievements of the sheltered workshop are eg. manual and machine assembling and packaging work, metal work, testing work as well as cleaning work (laundry). 200 people work in the sheltered workshop. Of the 200 people 46 belong to full-time staff who accompany and support the disabled people in carrying out their activities.

Disability and functional limitation of the employee:

The man suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS). Because of the MS he is unable to move his right arm and legs and is therefore wheelchair dependent. As well as this he needs a urine bag and a colostomy bag ( for the artificial anus) for collecting his bodily wastes. His disability grade is 100 (GdB 100).


The man is a car mechanic and since the onset of his disease works in the reception area of the sheltered workshop for the disabled (WfbM).

Work duties and workplace (actual status):

The workplace of the employee is in the reception area of the WfbM (figure 1). At his workplace he receives the clients, visitors as well as the suppliers of the sheltered workshop. He gives them eg. information, or announces them by telephone to the respective colleagues. Telephone client and delivery enquiries are transfered by him to the respective colleagues using a normal push-button telephone. At the workplace in addition to the push-button phone there is:
- a portable reception desk (worktable)
- an electric door opener (push-button), eg. to open the reception door for clients
- a microphone for announcements over a loudspeaker system. For opening the entrance door and for announcements the employee operates a push-button for each with the left hand (door opener and microphone button). The left hand is also used for holding the telephone receiver. The static strain of the left arm and left hand is too high because of the frequency and length of the telephone calls, as for telephoning he must hold the receiver with the left hand. In addition to this their is also the weight of the arm itself that he must bear.

Work duties and workplace (desired status):

The static work posture and too high strain while telephoning is avoided by the use of a microphone-
headphone set (headset telephone) (figure 2 and 3). The microphone headphone set is used together with a telephone station for transfering calls. For telephoning he talks into the microphone which is directly in front of his mouth. He hears the voice of his telephone partner over the headphone. The display of the telephone station shows him who is phoning in the building (which telephone is used at the moment) and who is phoning (figure 4). The keyboard of the telephone station can be programmed and has large buttons for easier use so that by only pressing a button he can transfer calls. The telephone station enables him to transfer callers into a waiting line by pushing a button. If he needs a replacement, by removal of the microphone headphone set the telephone system can also be used completely normally by the replacement by means of a telephone receiver.

Work environment:

The changing of the urine and colostomy bag takes place in the WC which is laid out barrier free and also allows washing (figure 5 to 7). For changing he is pushed in his gripping- wheel wheelchair into the toilet. He prefers the gripping-wheel wheelchair and being pushed by a helper as he does not cope well with an electric wheelchair.
The transport pool of a company for passenger transport brings him to work in the mornings and takes him home in the evenings. The transport from the parking place to work is over a ramp at the building entrance which enables barrier-free reaching of the workplace.

Technical aids:

- Gripping-wheel wheelchair with leg support and footrests (Firm Ortopedia)
- Telephone terminal (Telekom AG, type Octaphon 200)
- Microphone headphone set (Firm Plantronics)

Assistive devices used:

assistive products for ostomy care
urine and faeces collectors
showers and shower units
wash basins
mirrors for facial care
bimanual handrim-drive wheelchairs
fixed grab bars and handgrips
fixed ramps
assistive products for telephoning and telematic messaging


The gripping-wheel wheelchair was supported by the health insurance and the telephone terminal with microphone headphone set by the Main Welfare Office. The Main Welfare Office also bears the costs for the transport pool.



  • working environment /
  • environment /
  • physical disability /
  • paralysis /
  • one-handedness /
  • one-hand operation /
  • wheelchair /
  • telephone /
  • head set /
  • head set /
  • placement /
  • calling /
  • announcement /
  • ramp /
  • toilet /
  • washbasin /
  • mirror /
  • support grip /
  • sanitary facility /
  • driving service /
  • working equipment /
  • urine bag /
  • stoma bag /
  • operating control /
  • work task /
  • access to workplace /
  • barrier-freedom /
  • washing /
  • mobility /
  • mobility aid /
  • use means of transport /
  • communication /
  • communication aid /
  • telephone switchboard /
  • using telecommunication device /
  • telecommunication device /
  • telecommunications /
  • telephone aid /
  • toileting /
  • shower /
  • participation in working life /
  • participation /
  • vocational rehabilitation /
  • brain /
  • arm /
  • hand /
  • handling /
  • leg /
  • EASTIN /
  • body posture and body part movement /
  • mobility and locomotion /
  • environmental influences, safety and loads /
  • brain damage /
  • office for vocational integration /
  • Wheelchair-driver /
  • hand impairment /
  • arm impairment /
  • leg impairment /
  • arm paralysis /
  • multiple sclerosis /
  • urinary incontinence /
  • incontinence /
  • sheltered workshop /
  • telephone switchboard /
  • reception /
  • gripping /
  • holding /
  • body posture /
  • standing /
  • walking /
  • finger hand movement /
  • reaching area /
  • body load /
  • shoulder arm movement /
  • workplace design /
  • technical advice /
  • barrier-free design /
  • assistive product /
  • working environment design

update status: 12.11.2009

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