Accessible and usable workplace technologies, and various types of assistive technology, are paramount in helping people with disabilities succeed on the job and deliver for their employers. Reflecting this, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) launched the Accessible Technology in the Workplace initiative, which influenced policies to advance the development and adoption of accessible information and communication technology (ICT) in workplace settings.
Beginning in 2010, this effort involved facilitating a national dialogue on accessible workplace technology with public and private sector stakeholders; educating IT providers on the benefits of creating interoperable, accessible workplace technology; and teaching employers about the strategic advantage of adopting accessible ICT and setting universal accessibility policies in their organizations. These activities culminated in a series of educational webcasts, webinars and podcasts, branded as AT Works, which explored the vital connection between accessible technology and the employment of people with disabilities. ODEP later established the Accessible Technology Action Center to continue its work in this area.
From 2010 to 2012, Concepts worked closely with ODEP to shape its policy agenda on accessible workplace technology, which was built around a vision of future ICT applications that are accessible, interoperable, universally designed and usable by everyone. As part of these efforts, Concepts helped ODEP develop a public-private sector task force comprised of developers, accessibility experts and executives from the nation’s leading technology companies, such as Adobe, AT&T, IBM, Microsoft, Unisys and W3C. This group helped educate ODEP on industry needs and explore ways to ensure that developers receive training, education and certification related to developing accessible workplace applications.
Concepts also assisted with educating public and private sector employers about the importance of adopting and implementing accessible ICT policies, practices and procedures in the workplace. As part of this, Concepts and key partners produced a paper to help employers develop a corporate-wide, comprehensive strategic plan for adopting and implementing accessible ICT corporate policies in their own workplace. In addition, Concepts drafted a series of AT Works fact sheets on the following topics: Building an Accessible Workplace; Cloud Computing and Accessibility; Mobile Technologies and Accessibility; Understanding Federal Regulations affecting Accessible Workplace Technology; What Is Accessible Technology; and Why Should Our Organization Build and Buy Accessible Technology?
In the summer of 2012, Concepts conceptualized and executed AT Works, an ODEP-sponsored educational series, to bring visibility to the agency’s progress in the accessible technology arena. From panel discussions to educational presentations, AT Works events featured insightful dialogues from industry luminaries, including Vint Cerf, vice president and chief Internet evangelist at Google, who is widely considered to be one of the fathers of the Internet. Concepts managed these training events from start to finish, including coordinating production, writing talking points, prepping participants and working with technology vendors to ensure the accessibility of webinar interfaces. Thousands tuned in to the live events, while scores of others watched the archived versions.