1998 Conference Proceedings

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ENVIRONMENT CANADA'S ADAPTIVE COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY (ACT)PROGRAM)

Andre Demers
ACT Technology Specialist
Andre.Demers@ec.gc.ca 
Lyne Cyr
ACT Senior Training Officer
Lyne.Cyr@ec.gc.ca 
Dave Goods, Director
IT Operations
Dave.Goods@ec.gc.ca 

Environment Canada
Les Terrasses de la Chaudi?re Complex
10 Wellington Street, 2nd floor
Hull, Quebec
K1A Oh4
TEL: (819) 953-2492
TTY: (819) 994-3792
FAX: (819) 953-5995

Presenters: Andre Demers and Lyne Cyr

ABSTRACT

Environment Canada is a highly computerized Canadian Federal government department. At least 80 percent of our employees require the use a computer to do their jobs.

The Adaptive Computer Technology Program was established in 1991 to provide adaptive computer technology services to new and existing employees who have disabilities. Its mandate is to allow all employees access to the same information, in the same office environment, as effectively and efficiently as anyone else. It is a comprehensive program that covers all disabilities.

BACKGROUND

In 1991 Environment Canada recognized that standard employment equity programs alone were insufficient to meet the goals of employment equity, particularly in the area of technology. Before 1991, Environment Canada had limited success in integrating those that required assistive technology into its workforce.

After much research on the subject of assistive technology, Environment Canada recruited Darola Bray from the University of Missouri-Columbia to establish and manage the program. Ms. Bray's extensive experience in every aspect of the field of adaptive technology made her the ideal choice to lead the program. The Adaptive Computer Technology Program was implemented with a mandate to improve access to computer technology, and to fully integrate employees with disabilities into its general workforce. Ms. Bray then became the Director of Client Services where she continued to promote the ACT program's ideas and objectives.

The current staff of the program includes two full-time trainers and a technology specialist.

COMPREHENSIVE SERVICE

Today Environment Canada the only Canadian federal department to operate a comprehensive program. When the program began in 1991, the ACT program was unique in North America because of the broad scope of services the program provided and the clients it supported. To this day, Environment Canada continues to support and enhance its Adaptive Computing Technology (ACT) Program. The Program is a division of the IT Operations Branch of the Systems & Informatics Directorate of Corporate Services.

The ACT Program's mandate is to assist in the workplace integration of persons with disabilities who require computer access.

OUR OBJECTIVE:

To enable access to computing resources by compensating for visual, mobility, or sensory impairments.

The ACT program provides the following services:

OUR PURPOSE:

To promote employment and career advancement of people with disabilities through successful implementation of adaptive computer technology as part of Environment Canada's Employment Equity Program.

To comprehensively cover all disabilities incorporating the assessment, implementation of the applicable technology, training and the ongoing support.

Successful implementation of Adaptive Computer Technology is based on identifying the adaptive computer technology needs of our employees regarding their abilities, job requirements and career aspirations.

The success of the program results from its full service approach. We identify and evaluate adaptive technology for suitability in the workplace. As part of this service, we test adaptive computer technology to ensure compatibility with our existing technology and systems. We encourage manufacturers and vendors to loan or donate adaptive technology to the Center. They benefit because the equipment is on display in an excellent venue with our trained staff to demonstrate it. We benefit because we can be proactive in finding and solving technical problems, and our clients benefit by having access to a wider range of possible solutions.

We perform detailed employee-job assessments to find the best match between the clients' needs and the available technology.

These assessments involve the following:

STATISTICS

Since February 1991, the ACT Program has served 106 clients. These clients have received a complete service consisting of assessments, evaluation, training and on-going support. Recently, the program has expanded to provide these services to other Canadian Federal Government departments on a cost recovery basis. This is part of the Federal Government's locally shared support services initiative.

These statistics do not include requests for information from outside sources. On average the ACT Program receives approximately 80-100 requests per year for information on the assorted tools (60%) and the ACT Program (40%).

PARTERSHIPS WITH OTHER DEPARTMENTS AND PROJECTS

In conjunction with various government departments and agencies, as well as private industry, Environment Canada's ACT program has been continuously involved in a variety of projects related to technology and disabilities. The following are a few of the ACT program's projects:

The ACT program has participated in many workshops and conferences since 1991. We have received international attention with visits from representatives of various foreign governments as well as representatives of disability groups worldwide, inquiring about the ACT program mandate and services offered.

Awards

The Environment Canada ACT Center has been nominated and won several awards related to technology, training and team work since 1991.

CONCLUSION

Environment Canada's ACT Program has clearly demonstrated through the successful implementation of adaptive computer technology, that it is possible to integrate people with disabilities into the workforce.

One consistent goal of the ACT Program in collaboration with other organizations, has always been to transfer some of its knowledge and expertise to those organizations. It provides awareness sessions on adaptive computer technology and how it can best be implemented to enable persons with disabilities access to standard technology.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

INNOVATIVE MANAGEMEMT, ACT Program references.

TECSO Projects, ACT Program references (teleworking, emploi-acc?s, audidact, ergonomics) ACT Program Mandate.

ACT Program presentations, ACT Program references.


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