1999 Conference Proceedings

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Integrating Assistive Technology in the Workplace

DINAH F.B. COHEN
Director, Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program
Department of Defense
5109 Leesburg Pike, Suite 810
Falls Church, VA 22041
V/TTY/Messages: (703)681-3976
FAX (703)681-9075
Email: Dinah.Cohen@tma.osd.mil 
WWW: www.ha.osd.mil/hpcap2.html 

OPHELIA Y. FALLS
Director, Accessible Technology Program and TARGET Center
Department of Agriculture
14th & Independence Ave. S. W., Suite 1006-S
Washington, D.C. 20250
V/TTY/Messages: (202)720-2600
FAX (202)720-2681
Email: ofalls@usda.gov 
WWW: www.usda.gov/oo/target.htm

The Federal government has had a long-standing commitment to the hiring and employment of people with disabilities. Technology has leveled the playing 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 thorough needs assessment must be completed for successful placement purposes. The steps to a needs assessment process are the following:

The presenters have personal experiences managing Federal agency's (Department 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 the Midwest TARGET Center. The Department of Defense (DoD) established the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) and the CAP Technology Evaluation Center (CAPTEC).

The ATP mission is to support USDA's workforce diversity and the Federal workforce 2000 policies. The USDA TARGET Centers provide technology and information services to assure equal access to electronic technology and automated systems essential to today's jobs. The Centers assist in making information and microcomputer technology accessible to persons with disabilities for career enhancements. The Centers serve as focal points in USDA for conducting needs assessments, demonstrations, evaluations, training, and acquisitions support for accommodations and technologies. The ATP staff is available to service employees and the public using, agricultural information with sight, hearing, speech, or mobility disabilities. For additional information, contact the TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (Voice/TTY) or email at ofalls@usda.gov.

The CAP mission is to provide assistive technology to DoD employees with disabilities. The mission also includes making DoD programs and activities accessible for employees and visitors with disabilities, including military retirees, family members, and hospital patients. For example, CAP purchases equipment that helps blind people access computers and printed materials, allows deaf people to use the telephone, and lets people with dexterity impairments access the information environment with voice recognition systems. The CAP services make the DoD work environments more accessible to DoD employees with visual, hearing, dexterity, and cognitive impairments. The CAP staff is available to assist the DoD, Federal, and general communities. With the right accommodations, people with disabilities have the power to excel. For more information, contact the CAP office at 703-681-8811 (Voice/TTY) or at cap@tma.osd.mil.

Managers also need to be familiar with the various types of assistive technologies available for people with disabilities. The growth of computers and technology in today's office environment has provided opportunities for people with disabilities. Developing accessible resource centers is the next section of the information environment that is required to make information easily available for 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 display 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 are a benefit to employees and managers by ensuring the best and most cost effective accommodations 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 of the capabilities technology can provide to people 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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