Using Accessible Technology to Increase Employment of People with Disabilitie

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has released a sequal to last year’s Roadmaps for Enhancing Employment of Persons with Disabilities Through Accessible Technology (AT). Roadmaps II describes federally funded AT programs, summarizes some of the barriers that limit the use of AT by people with disabilities and makes recommendations to increase the employment of people with disabilities though AT, which theODEP believes should play a significant role in U.S. disability policy.

Roadmaps II cites data from the U.S. Census 2006 American Community Survey, which found that only 38 percent of non-institutionalized individuals with disabilities aged 21 to 64 were employed at least part-time, compared with almost 80 percent of individuals in the same age group without a disability — an employment gap of 42 percent.

The following are some of the recommendations in Roadmaps II:

  • Educate IT staff about interoperability issues, such as security and backup policies, and take steps to avoid reducing the utility of AT software either by accident or because of security, maintenance or similar issues.
  • Purchase or allow the use of portable AT, especially AT software or electronic and information technology (EIT) AT devices, which people can bring to standardized offices or work spaces.
  • Allow flexibility in employer policies in regards to buying, installing or training on AT. For example, employers should allow job coaches on the worksite to demonstrate how people with disabilities can use an AT device and ensure that AT purchases are approved as quickly as possible.
  • Encourage managers to seek out publicly available AT information and resources after a job applicant or employee asks for an AT accommodation.
  • Develop, disseminate and offer resources developed by others on AT that address the concerns, myths and lack of awareness of employers, such as resources offered by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ( www.uschamber.com ).
  • Take advantage of demonstration projects/programs and become more knowledgeable about the capacity of individuals with disabilities to use AT in the workplace.
  • Create and keep statistics on the use and productivity of employees with disabilities using AT in the workplace.

The complete report can be downloaded in PDF or Word format and is available atwww.disabilityinfo.gov.