Resource Alert: NCD 2016 Progress Report Tackles Accessible Workplace Technology Issues
This year, the National Council on Disability (NCD)’s annual report to Congress notably focuses on improving access to technology for Americans with disabilities. Recognizing the core role technology plays in all aspects of modern life, National Disability Policy: A Progress Report prominently addresses accessible workplace technology as a right for all Americans, and a key pathway to employment.
Based on analysis of the current state of accessible technology and its availability in workplaces around the nation, the report provides actionable recommendations for the federal government, technology industry, and private and public sectors.
A Technology Bill of Rights
NCD’s primary recommendation calls upon Congress to clearly outline the technology rights of people with disabilities through a Technology Bill of Rights. As PEAT has highlighted previously, the federal government has recognized accessible information and communications technology (ICT) as a civil right and a vital employment issue for individuals with disabilities. But people with disabilities continue to face barriers to using technology—undoubtedly in part due to the absence of clear language that specifies the responsibility of covered entities to provide accessible technology.
Likewise, this proposed bill would ensure access to “equal and fair access to existing and emerging technology and related services” by providing guidance for future legislative efforts.
Guidelines for Implementing Accessible ICT
NCD’s report also provides detailed recommendations for how employers and tech providers can help improve workplace accessibility by building and buying accessible technology. NCD’s core recommendations for employers include:
- Ensuring that technology used by job candidates and employees is accessible to people with disabilities;
- Establishing and implementing procurement criteria and procedures that ensure the acquisition of accessible technology;
- Adhering to WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards when designing for the web;
- Including people with disabilities in all phases of product development and user testing; and
- Educating technology developers on the principles of accessible design.
And, finally, the NCD recommendations highlight PEAT as a valuable source of guidance in implementing these efforts. PEAT offers numerous resources on many related topics, from accessible eRecruiting to staff training.
As NCD’s report notes, "civil rights laws and technological advances have done much to level the playing field for people with disabilities. However, much work is left to be done as people with disabilities continue to face barriers to employment." Despite the many technological advances that are opening doors for people with disabilities, there is work to be done to ensure that everything from online job applications to time sheets to workplace communication tools are accessible to everyone. NCD’s framework for improving accessible technology in the workplace offers both policymakers and employers tangible steps to help increase employment opportunities and job success for people with disabilities.
And of course, this wide-ranging report also addresses the countless ways that technology impacts how Americans with disabilities learn, receive health care, and experience community living. To read the full report, please visit http://www.ncd.gov/progressreport/2016/progress-report-october-2016.