1997 Conference Proceedings

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Director, Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program
Department of Defense, 5111 Leesburg Pike, Suite 810
Falls Church, VA 22041
V/TDD/Messages: (703) 681-3976 FAX (703) 681-9075
E-Mail: dcohen@ha.osd.mil

Director, Accessible Technology Program and TARGET Center
Department of Agriculture
14th & Independence Ave. S.W., Suite 1006-S
Washington, D.C. 20250
V/TDD/Messages: (202)-720-2600 FAX (202)720-2681
E-Mail: ofalls@usda.gov

The Federal government has had a long standing commitment to hiring and employment of people with disabilities. Technology has leveled the play field for many disabled people in the new computer office environment. To successfully hire and place people with disabilities managers must become familiar with the needs assessment process . This includes the various types of accommodations and the current technology available in today's environment.

In order for a manager to successfully hire and place people with disabilities a through needs assessment must be completed for successful placement purposes. The steps to a needs assessment process are the following:

Meet with users with disabilities and select the best accommodation solution that enhances performance--

The presenters have personal experiences managing Federal agencies's (Departments of Agriculture and Defense) accommodations requirements. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) sponsors the Accessible Technology Program (ATP), which supports the Technology Accessible Resources Gives Employment Today (TARGET) Center, and Midwest TARGET Center. The Department of Defense (DOD) established the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) and CAP Technology Evaluation Center (CAPTEC).

The ATP mission are to support USDA's work force diversity and the Federal work force 2000 policies. The Center provides technology and information services to assure equal access to electronic technology and automated systems essential to today's jobs. The Centers assists in making information and microcomputer technology accessible to persons with disabilities for career enhancements. The Centers serves as focal points in USDA conducting assessments, demonstrations, evaluations, training, and acquisition support for accommodations and technologies. The ATP staff is available to service to employees and the public using agricultural information with sight, hearing, speech, or mobility disabilities. For additional information, contact the TARGET Center on (202)720-2600 (V/TDD/TTY) or e-mail ofalls@usda.gov.

The CAP mission is to provide adaptive devices to DOD employees with disabilities. The mission also includes accommodating the disabilities of its employees and making its programs and activities accessible not only to employees, but also to other people with disabilities including military retirees, military family members, and members of the public. For example, CAP purchases equipment that helps blind people to access computers and printed materials, allows deaf people to use the telephone, and lets dexterity impaired people "type" without uisng their hands. The CAP services make DOD work environments more accessible to DOD employees with visual, hearing, dexterity and cognitive impairments. The CAP staff is here to assist DOD employees, supervisors, and managers. With the right accommodations, people with disabilities have the power to EXCEL. For additional information, contact the CAP office on (703) 681-8811 or e-mail cap@ha.osd.mil.

Managers also need to be familiar with the various types of accommodations and technologies available for people with disabilities. The following is a list of a very few with a brief definition:

Sight Accommodations

Hearing/Speech Accommodations

Mobility Accommodations

The growth of computers and technology in today's office environment has provided opportunities for people with disabilities. Developing resource centers seems to be the next part of the information network that is needed to make information easily available to people with disabilities. Technical evaluation centers provide the information to link individuals with needed accommodations and resource information. As with any initiative, the success of your Center depends upon the work completed up-front to identify your customer base, determine requirements, solicit management support, and obtain sufficient funding.

The TARGET and CAPTEC Centers displays accommodations and technologies in the office work environment that can aid people with disabling conditions. The services provided by the Centers facilitate the evaluation and assessment of various accommodations and technologies. The staff assist in identifying solutions that will best meet the needs of an individual. The Centers hands-on techniques is a benefit to employees and managers by ensuring the best and most cost effective accommodation are evaluated. Technologies in the Centers have been tested and proven to meet the needs of the documented requirements of the solution. Senior and mid level managers are enlightened on the capabilities technology can provide to a persons with disabilities. The benefits include a decrease in resources (time and dollars) for a manager to accommodate an employee, improved productivity, and assist in career enhancements. The managers of the Centers are working to incorporate techniques in their Departments for information system designs to include accessibility that will provide the environment for universal design of information systems. Universal design ensures information systems design include features to provide solutions for a variety of limitations for people with disabilities and those who will become disabled in the future.

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