Webinar: Accessible Technology

 

audio version (opens in a new tab)

 

 

 

Introduction

As a person with a disability, I place a high value on technology which is accessible. Accessible technology can provide inclusion and independence for people with disabilities. On June 22, 2021, I attended a webinar from the

Earn (Employer Assistance Resource Network).

The topic was “Digital Accessibility: Driving Disability Inclusion in the Workplace”. In this article, I will share what I learned.

 

Overview

July 2021 is the 31st anniversary of the ADA. Accessibility is more than web sites. For example, an employer’s online application submission system should be accessible. Proactive thought is important for disability inclusion. The first presenter represented the

U.S. Department of Labor, office of contractor compliance policy.

The second presenter was from the

“Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT)”.

The first presentation was then given.

 

Telework and Hiring Processes

During the pandemic, many employers have ensured employees have sufficient technology for remote work. Additionally, the number of people teleworking is expected to increase. Telework can increase employment possibilities for individuals with disabilities. It is important for screening and hiring processes to be accessible. This means requests for accommodations regarding online tools used by employers must be accessible. Two examples: provide interpreters upon request during tests and/or interviews. Additional time can be provided to accommodate someone with dyslexia or visual limitations. It is important for employers to ensure artificial intelligent hiring technology is not biased, including against people with disabilities. In a brief question-and-answer session with this presenter, it was reiterated to consider use of telework in the future. The presenter also reiterated that people with disabilities could be at a disadvantage when artificial intelligence hiring tools are used. Examples: include time-based or personality screening tools. It is important for people with disabilities to know how they can request a reasonable accommodation. The second presenter then focused on accessible technology.

Accessible Technology

Accessibility means anyone can use the same technology. Two examples: a smartphone can be accessible for someone with visual limitations if a screen reader is included. Curb cuts can help those who do and do not use wheelchairs. Currently, the presenter said, 1 billion people worldwide have a disability. The explanation of digitization can create challenges because people with disabilities might not be able to access the technology. For example, remote meetings can be less accessible for some people with disabilities. However, accessibility has been more of a consideration in some cases. Focus then moved to accessible presentations.

 

Presentation Accessibility

 

It is important to consider how the presentation will be delivered. When an invitation is sent out, accommodations should be provided upon request. This means sending the invitation out with sufficient time for accommodation provision. Additionally, meeting materials need to be accessible. The audience needs to have a way to interact with presenters, such as a chat function. It can also be helpful for accessibility to have presenters describe what they look like (physical appearance). After a presentation concludes, it is important to distribute information (example: survey for event feedback and event recording). During question-and-answer period, someone asked if turning video off can be an accessibility problem. At minimum, video from interpreters and speakers should be on whenever possible. Bottom line: it is important to consider the needs of as many people with disabilities as possible.

 

Question for readers: As a person with a disability, what technology do you consider to be useful and accessible? I will return next week with another article.

 

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