Future Friday: The Disability of the Future Workplace?

 
 

Is simulation sickness the ADA issue of the future?
Is simulation sickness the ADA issue of the future?

Google Glass and virtual reality are two technologies widely speculated to be tools of the future workplace. While they may end up being very valuable they also may be a cause for concern. They could be related to a disability that will become more common in the workplace of the future.
“I don’t feel so good”
Not everyone can deal with simulations or virtual reality. They have a problem with the fact that these produce visual perceptions of movement without the associated inner ear perceptions. This results in motion sickness. I have it. I cannot watch a movie-the-round where there is all this appearance of movement yet I am rooted in one place. Even 3-D causes some queasiness. Christopher Mims, writing in Digital motion sickness will be the occupational disease of the 21st century, says that the Army has long known of this problem because it has used simulations for training for many years. He says the actual term for this illness is “simulation sickness” and occurs in a large number or people depending on how immersive the simulation his. He reports that he has experienced it wearing Google Glass. If you suffer from motion sickness you know it is not any fun.
The Americans with Disability Act
So what happens if you require an employee to wear a simulation device of some sort to perform their job? Will we be facing a potential ADA claim? The EEOC says that for something to be considered a disability it must “substantially limit” someone’s ability to perform a “major life activity”, of which working is one. I foresee someone making a claim under the ADAAA of having a disability associated with simulation sickness. Of course this will require you to get into the “interactive discussion” phase of dealing with their inability to perform the essential functions of their job.
I am not quite sure how this will play out in the future, but I will guarantee it WILL be an issue that needs to be prepared for. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
 
Image courtesy of Ohmega1982 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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