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Control Data Corporation's 'Homework' and Selective Placement Programs, from Managing and Employing the Handicapped: The Untapped Potential (1981)


Control Data Corporation's 'Homework' and Selective Placement Programs, from Managing and Employing the Handicapped: The Untapped Potential (1981)
Pati, Gopal C.
Adkins, John I.
Morrison, Glenn
Control Data Corporation
PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations)
Disability Employment
Disabled Workers Programs
William Norris
A report from 1981 on industry programs for employing handicapped persons. The section on Control Data Corporation reads:

Another Midwestern giant corporation (3M is headquartered in St. Paul; Control Data's home is in Minneapolis) has put its own technology to good use for itself and its disabled employees. Control Data has a developed a program called "Homework" for severely disabled homebound employees.
Homework is designed to provide, first, training and, then, employment through the technology at the PLATO system. PLATO is a computer-based educational system that utilizes a computer screen and keyboard. A PLATO terminal can be installed in anyone's home and linked to terminals at the office, or nearly any other location.
The project began in 1978 with 12 trainees who were disabled employees of the corporation. Each had a terminal installed in his or her home. For a year they were trained to become PLATO courseware writers. The trainees proved the success of the venture by writing a course that teaches programmers how to write in Pascal, a computer language.
Control Data was sufficiently pleased with the initial project to begin two more: one will train 14 disabled employees to be business application programmers; the second will teach other disabled workers to become tutors in the rather extensive Control Data Institute (CDI) educational program, which also uses the PLATO system. Thus, CDI tutors (like Carol Anderson, an original course-writer trainee) can still remain at home and provide instant feedback to students via their terminals in an instruction center.
William Norris, chairman and chief executive officer of Control Data, believes the Homework concept has a significant future. He points out that "there are more than two million Americans classified as being homebound because of a severe mental and/or physical disability." Further, Norris envisions that the Homework
and programs like it "will become an employment alternative, not only for the disabled population, but also the able-bodied."
Control Data's involvement in social issues—including seeking employment outlets for the disabled—stems from a point of view that might also be of general interest. Again, we quote William Norris:
The time is long overdue when business should take the initiative, in conjunction with government and other sectors of society, in addressing these problems as profitable business opportunities, with an appropriate sharing of costs between the private sector and government.

Since 1975 Control Data has employed a rehabilitation counselor, much in the mold of Paul Ashton of 3M. Again, the purpose is to rehabilitate and selectively place disabled employees in suitable
jobs. The objectives are to not waste human resources, to maintain productivity, and to save on disability payments. (To that last objective, Control Data estimates that its rehabilitation program has saved several hundred thousand dollars.)
Stephen Wastvedt, of the personnel office of Control Data, has provided us with two examples of their selective placement pro- gram. The first is an epileptic applicant, whose medication slowed his mental faculties somewhat. Recognizing that his slowness did not negate his basic reliability and competence, the corporation found him a job he could handle—cleaning computer tapes. Since then he has been promoted to process control aid and is doing well. The second case involves an applicant who was close to a degree in computer science and who had cerebral palsy. Mr. Wastvedt was able to find the applicant an internship, so that he could finish his degree. He became a permanent employee (computer program- mer) when Wastvedt was able to locate a position that did not put excessive demands upon the employee's limited communication abilities. The placement is considered a success by both employee and corporation.
Parallels In Time: A History of Developmental Disabilities. The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD)
Brace-Park Human Resource Press
ISBN 094256006X
Control Data Corporation
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Bibliographic Citation
Pati, Gopal C & Adkins, John I., 1949- & Morrison, Glenn, 1948- (1981). Managing and employing the handicapped : the untapped potential. Brace-Park Human Resource Press, Lake Forest, IL

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